The Office of Rail and Road has called on Network Rail to allocate an extra £1bn to replace worn out assets bringing total spend up to £18bn over control period 6.
This extra spend must be included in the baseline route plans, spending on a range of assets, with particular priorities including earthworks, drainage, track and structures.
Network Rail has also been instructed in the draft determination of investment plans to make savings and sell off extra property such as railway arches to fund improvements.
The rail watchdog has listened to concerns from contractors about fluctuating investment and told Network Rail to smooth out its spending profile going forward from 1 April 2019.
Joanna Whittington, Chief Executive, ORR, said: “ORR’s initial assessment of Network Rail’s five-year plans shows that the transition from a centrally run company to one structured round eight geographic routes has improved the quality of the plans but we want to see £1bn more spent on renewing the railway to improve reliability and boost safety.
“ORR will be monitoring and enforcing delivery by each of the routes, so that passengers and freight customers will be able to rely on the railway for the essential service it provides.”
To reflect the increased responsibility of route teams, ORR is restructuring Network Rail’s licence to make routes more accountable for their plans.
Whittington said: “ORR will monitor and hold to account each route as well as the new System Operator, which will focus on system planning and timetabling, throughout CP6.”
ORR will publish its final determination at the end of October.