"We want work to be completed in eight hours or less," he told NCE. "Not necessarily all the work, but broken up into eight-hour segments that can be completed overnight so we can begin to enjoy a seven-day per week railway," he explained.
"We are dead serious about this," he added.
"Maybe in 10 years we can then reduce this to six hours."
His comments came as Network Rail this week announced a new round of bidding for professional services contracts, together worth £130M a year. The contracts up for grabs are in technical design, specialist engineering, commercial services and project management.
Network Rail expects its professional services suppliers to increase from 75 to around 100.
McNaughton said that he was looking for future work to be high quality and more standardised so that future repairs and maintenance could be more predictive than reactive.
"It does not matter what you are doing – track, signalling, power, bridges, earthworks, whatever. If you can't do it in eight hours, we won't be working with you in the future," he said.
"For normal work, this will be fully in place by 2011, that is the way we are going to things," he added.