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- A total figure for running and expanding Britain's railways between 2014 and 2019 - which includes the cost of servicing its vast debts as well as enhancements to the network - has been put at £40.1 billion by Network Rail but the ORR regulator said this should be £37.9 billion
- NR is already forecast to have delivered efficiencies of 40% in running the railways from 2004 and 2014 and ORR said it expected to see a further 20% from 2014 to 2019
- The regulator said that while it had approved a £12 billion programme of enhancements, some £7 billion of these were in the very early stages of planning
In an assessment of NR's plans for the five-year period, the rail regulator said it will also expect higher standards of management of the network's infrastructure as well as improved safety for passengers and railway workers.
The ORR said that savings on spending for the period could be achieved "through the implementation of new technologies, better management of the railways and more efficient ways of working".
It said the savings would not come at the expense of safety and that maintenance expenditure would be protected, with additional funding for the improvement of structures such as bridges and tunnels as well as upgrading level crossings.
ORR said money could be saved through measures such as keeping better data on the condition of the network so that problems could be identified and fixed before they occur, reducing delays.
Debt-ridden Network Rail (NR) has been told by regulators that it must shave nearly £2 billion from spending plans over the next five years and meet new punctuality targets.
The subsidised company, which is responsible for tracks and signalling, announced last month that its debt had soared past £30 billion.
It has set out plans to spend £23.3 billion running the railway network from 2014 to 2019 but the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) has calculated the day-to-day costs at the lower figure of £21.4 billion.
Last week the TUC union said privatisation had failed to deliver for rail users and taxpayers and had brought in little private sector investment.
Maria Eagle, Labour's Shadow Transport Secretary, has said commuters facing "inflation-busting" fare rises will be outraged at Network Rail paying large bonuses to senior managers:
Commuters facing inflation-busting fare rises will be outraged at the scale of the bonus packages being enjoyed by a few at the top of the rail industry. This comes on top of the Tory-led Government cutting taxes for the most well off while millions pay more.
With many passengers facing overcrowded services and too many delayed and cancelled trains, it is wrong for Network Rail to be paying out such large sums to its senior managers. It will particularly anger passengers that these bonuses are being paid for a year when Network Rail has failed to meet its own performance target on train punctuality.
At a time when people are struggling to make ends meet, this out of touch decision will simply add to the growing feeling that we need real reform to the way the rail industry operates in Britain.
This follows the revelation that chief executive Sir David Higgins received a bonus of nearly £100,000 despite failing to meet certain targets.
Ms Eagle called on the Transport Secretary Justine Greening to block the bonuses, and to make it clear to Network Rail that incentive payments on this scale are not appropriate for a company that receives so much money from taxpayers.
The chief executive of Network Rail is to receive an annual bonus of nearly £100,000 - despite the company failing to meet some of its performance targets.
Chief executive Sir David Higgins, who earns an annual salary of £577,000, will receive a bonus of £99,000 for 2012/13.
Five other high-ranking directors of the rail infrastructure are also set to get bonuses of between £59,000 and £67,000.
If all targets had been met, which included its trains-on-time target, Sir David Higgins and fellow directors could have been awarded bonuses of up to 60 per cent of their annual salaries.
Instead they only received bonuses worth 17 per cent of their annual salaries.