Investment over five years will prioritise track replacement and maintenance

Network Rail has told passengers to expect a “new era for rail,” starting tomorrow.

The UK’s transport infrastructure manager said it would spend more than £34bn over the next five years (also known as Control Period 4).

It said the bulk of the investment (£11.5bn) will be invested in replacement of old track, signalling and bridges with new, £9.2bn will be spent on maintenance, operating and running the network, £8bn will be invested in projects to reduce overcrowding, including platform lengthening and capacity increasing to allow “more and longer trains to run.” And £3.7bn was included for further investments not funded through the periodic review, such as Crossrail and the Edinburgh to Glasgow improvements programme.

Chief executive, Iain Coucher, said the country was poised on the brink of a rail revolution. “Tomorrow we embark upon one of the most exciting chapters in the history of our railways. Network Rail is ready to unleash the biggest expansion of Britain’s railways since the age of Brunel.”

Network Rail said it was committed to increased train punctuality “to record levels” – an average of 92.6% of trains on time over a 12 month period by 2014 in England and Wales and 92% in Scotland.

The firm said it would reduce costs by 21% on top of the 27% cost savings already achieved since 2004.

It also said it would aim to reduce disruption to passengers by 37%. The news will interest transport minister, Lord Adonis, who laid into Network Rail about simultaneously closing both lines to Scotland over two successive weekends.

According to reports in the Financial Times, Lord Adonis accused Network Rail of "serious failure to take account of passenger interests" and making "misleading" promises.

Rail union RMT repeated its claims that safety was being forfeited by track renewal delays and said: “No amount of spin can disguise the hard reality that Network Rail is under a huge financial squeeze and has shelved nearly a third of the track renewals projects it had already scheduled for this year,” RMT general secretary Bob Crow said today.

Meanwhile, Transport for London (TfL) has also unveiled its £3.9bn budget for next year, as it cancelled two large transport projects, including the Greenwich Waterfront Transit. It had previously said this was "a key part of public transport improvements to support the regeneration in the London Thames Gateway area that will help to improve access to employment, education, healthcare and leisure services for local communities" and "improve connections for the 2012 Games" Labour leaders said it proved London mayor Boris Johnson was the “pay more, get less mayor.”

TfL also pulled plans to introduce step-free access to Baker Street tube station. Retained commitments include work on adapting Tottenham Court Road tube station for Crossrail, the completion of the upgrade of the Jubilee line, the start of works on the East London line and Docklands Light Railway (DLR) and works to deliver the cycle highways.