NETWORK Rail has set out its £38bn upgrade plans for the next five years, though new boss Mark Carne underlined the difficulty of cutting running costs while keeping Britain’s railways in shape.
Carne and his team are totting up how much more money they will need to protect the railways against the weather, following the damage wrought by flooding over the winter. Their review will be complete in September. The Dawlish line, which was partly destroyed two months ago, reopens on Friday.
As well as flood preparation, Network Rail intends to renew 7,000km of track and get closer to its goal of 92.5 per cent of services running on time.
The public sector body has been told to cut day-to-day costs by a fifth by 2019 as government subsidies fall.
“While I am under no illusion about the size of the task, or the many areas in which we are both imperfect and need to improve, as a newcomer I see an industry which is growing and a railway which more and more people want to use every day,” said Carne.
“In the next five years we must do everything we can to deserve that trust – to deliver not just a good service, but one people can afford.”
Network Rail also confirmed that it aims to accommodate 30 per cent more freight in the next decade, as well as working with service operators to provide 170,000 more seats for commuters.