UK rail regulator Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has urged Network Rail to invest an additional £1bn to replace its outdated railway tracks and assets over the next five years. The move would bring the total renewals budget across Britain to £18bn.

The call was made in response to Network Rail’s recently announced five-year plan, the Control Period 6 (CP6), which aims to spend more than £34bn by 2024.

In its assessment, ORR said that Network Rail should do more than proposed to improve the reliability and safety of its railway for the benefit of both passengers and freight customers.

ORR also said that Network Rail should include an additional sum of £80m for a new safety-related expenditure.

The infrastructure manager was further recommended to reallocate £0.9bn of its £1.7bn funding destined for England and Wales.

“ORR will be monitoring and enforcing delivery by each of the routes so that passengers and freight customers will rely on the railway for the essential service it provides.”

Among other suggestions, ORR said that Network Rail should ensure to work effectively with all passenger train companies, as well as create a £10m performance innovation fund to support the testing and implementing of new ideas across the UK.

ORR chief executive Joanna Whittington said: “The entire rail industry, including passengers, freight customers and train operators, relies on Network Rail to deliver a high-quality service.

“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.”

ORR is expected to publish its final determination on the CP6 by the end of October.