Network Rail has pledged £6 billion to improve rail services in the South of England.

The company announced yesterday that it has joined its South East and Wessex routes to form a new southern region, which will benefit from the multi-billion pound investment over the next five years.

Manager John Halsall hailed the “milestone” as a way to “put passengers first and address the decline in train performance”.

Rail services in the South are among the worst performing in the country.

Operator Southern was ranked the least trusted rail service in England in a study published earlier this month.

In 2017, Southern ran the country’s most overcrowded train, with 267 passengers on their way to London Bridge packed into two carriages designed for 107 people.

But Network Rail claims the funding and reorganisation will leave passengers better off.

The company said the move is designed “to shift power and decision making into smaller, regional organisations... closer to customers and will give local managers the levers and authority to tackle performance issues head-on”.

The new zone will be the nation’s busiest, with more than 700 million services a year. It will also see more than 266,000 tonnes of freight passing through every week.

Network Rail’s investment will be used to run and renew four routes in the region: Sussex, Wessex, Kent, and Network Rail High Speed, all set to form later this summer.

In February commuters faced major disruption during a £67 million upgrade of the Brighton Mainline, part of a £300 million Government-funded drive to curb delays and make the railway in the South East more dependable. The line – used by some 300,000 passengers each day – is renowned for being one of the least reliable parts of the network.