A £37.5 billion plan to run and expand the railways including projects in Essex over the next five years was unveiled today by Network Rail.

If approved, the plan will provide 170,000 extra commuter seats at peak times by 2019, by which time the railways could be carrying as many as 225 million more passengers than at present.

But despite the big investment plans, NR envisages no overall improvement in train punctuality compared with the trains-on-time target for 2009-2014.

A figure of 92.5% punctuality was set for the period 2009-2014 - a target which NR has failed to meet.

In today's business plan, the company said it expected to achieve a trains-on-time figure of 92.5% "by the end" of the period 2014-2019.

NR also warned that even with the extra trains and seats this would "not be enough" on the busy West Coast Main Line where the added capacity of the London to Birmingham HS2 high-speed rail line project was, it said, "essential".

And NR chief executive Sir David Higgins added, ominously, that the industry, under pressure to cut costs, had entered "the era of trade-offs".

He went on: "Increasingly we have to balance the need to build more infrastructure, run trains on time and cut costs, and in many areas choices will need to be made."

The NR plans come at a time of passenger anger at the above-inflation 4.2% season ticket average fare rises this month.

Publication of the high salaries and attractive bonuses of some of the bosses of the train operators' parent companies has also done little to assuage commuter ire.

To be agreed with and approved by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR), the NR plan envisages improvements that by 2019 will: :: See 225 million more passengers per year travelling and 355,000 more trains in service - the highest numbers ever; :: Provide 20% extra morning peak seats into central London and 32% into large regional cities in England and Wales; :: Provide 700 more trains a day linking key northern cities and a 10-minute reduction in journey time between Manchester and Leeds; :: See 30% more freight being carried than today; :: Cut CO2 emissions per passenger by 37% and reduce risk at level crossings by 8%; :: Plan a move away from more than 800 signal boxes to 14 major operations centres; :: Reduce the cost of running Britain's railways by a further 18% and cut annual public subsidy to between £2.6 billion and £2.9 billion in 2019 - down from £4.5 billion in 2009 and £7 billion in 2004.

Projects include various electrification schemes, including the Great Western and Midland Main Lines, station improvements at Birmingham New Street and Reading in Berkshire, and reopening 31 miles of railways in Scotland closed under the Beeching cuts of 50 years ago.

The main schemes benefiting the east of England are:
Crossrail and the Great Eastern main line
• Completion of Crossrail will transform commuter services between Shenfield and London Liverpool Street, with upgrades to 13 stations on the Great Eastern main line between Shenfield and central London
• Longer, more frequent Crossrail trains will provide more seats for commuters with new, direct services to central London and beyond to Heathrow Airport and the Thames Valley.
• The new Crossrail station at Liverpool Street will free up surface platforms, providing opportunities for additional services from key commuter hubs on the Great Eastern main line during the busiest times of day
• As part of the work to deliver increased capacity into Liverpool Street, which includes the remodelling of Bow Junction near Stratford, Network Rail will examine improvements to journey times on the Great Eastern main line
• Track will be renewed between Liverpool Street and Norwich
• Several sets of points on the Great Eastern main line and the West Anglia main line will be renewed
West Anglia
• Remodelling Ely North Junction will relieve a key bottle neck on the West Anglia main line, enabling more passengers and freight services, including increasing the number of trains running between King's Lynn and London.
• A third track from Stratford to Tottenham Hale will alleviate growing overcrowding on the busy Lea Valley line. A further extension of the new third track to Angel Road is under consideration.
• The new third track would also help enable faster journey times to and from Stansted Airport. A line speed study is also underway to examine further improvements to journey times.
• Although not part of the Anglia business plan, the Thameslink programme will provide passengers from Cambridge with new trains and more destinations.
Overhead line upgrade
• The upgrade of outdated overhead power lines between London Liverpool Street and Chelmsford is set to be completed by May 2017, providing a more reliable service for passengers.
• The next step is to renew overhead line equipment on the branch line to Southend, which also dates back to the 1950s
• Network Rail will also renew the overhead lines from Cheshunt to Bishops Stortford and Hackney Downs to Cheshunt via Southbury
Modernising signalling across the region
• A new rail operating centre (ROC) will open in Romford in 2014, which will eventually control the entire railway in the Anglia region, covering parts of London, Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire
• The railway between Norwich, Yarmouth and Lowestoft will be the first part of the route to have control migrated to the Romford ROC in 2016.
• Norwich East and Cambridge will be controlled from the ROC in 2015 and 2016 respectively. 2016 also sees the first stages of Liverpool Street being recontrolled to the ROC. 2017 will see Colchester added to the ROC, along with the first stages of the North London Line
Level crossings
• Network Rail will continue to improve safety at level crossings and focus on closing level crossings where possible as well as investing in new technology
• Between 2014-2019, Network Rail plans to renew or upgrade 154 crossings across the region. Since 2009, Network Rail has closed more than 90 level crossings on the Anglia route
Third party proposed stations (subject to approval)
• Beaulieu Park, Chelmsford
• Cambridge Science Park
• Soham
• Lea Bridge station
• Beam Park, near Rainham