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Network Rail sets out infrastructure investment plans for the next five years

Railways operator Network Rail has set out plans for over £10 billion of infrastructure investment over its next five year regulatory period, 2014 to 2019.30 Sep 2011

Its plans, which will include the completion of major projects already underway such as Crossrail and the cross-London Thameslink line, are now subject to approval from the Government and the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR).

Network Rail, which owns and operates UK railway infrastructure including tracks, signals, tunnels, bridges and stations, said its Initial Industry Plan would "deliver better value for money and play a key role in driving sustainable economic growth".

The operator said that it aimed to cut the cost of running the railways by £1.3bn per year by 2019 through "greater cross-industry collaboration and changes in the way government procures passenger rail services".

It seeks less than the £11.8bn investment needed in  2009, but aims to save 16% over the course of the investment period.

Network Rail has already cut 27% from the cost of running the rail network between 2004 and 2009, and expects to have saved another 23% by the time the new plan comes into force in 2014, it said.

In addition to £4.9bn needed to complete its existing projects, the plan identified £5.6bn areas for further investment including a £560m 'Northern Hub' scheme to deliver over 700 more daily services between Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle and Sheffield, further electrification of lines and increasing capacity for freight transport by 30%.

It hopes to improve facilities at medium-to-large sized stations. A 30-year programme to modernise the signalling system is also proposed, which will replace 800 existing signal boxes with 14 modern signalling centres.

It also plans to provide an additional 180,000 seats for passengers between major cities at peak times, while reducing the industry's carbon emissions per passenger kilometre by 25%.

Network Rail said that passenger numbers were continuing to grow, by an average of 4% per year over the last decade.

"This revenue growth and improved efficiency taken together provide governments with real choices to consider, choices around the appropriate balance between investment, fares and subsidy," said Paul Plummer, group strategy director of Network Rail said

Once ratified, the plans will be finalised by the ORR in 2013.