Network Rail to start selling commercial properties to fund rail projects

Network Rail has announced the sale of its commercial property business in England and Wales to help fund upgrades to its network.

The move has been made in a bid to see “the railway positively transformed” and should bring about a “major cash boost”, according to the taxpayer-owned railway company. Most of the 5,500 properties in the portfolio are up for sale in England and Wales – the majority of which are spaces in railway arches. They will be sold as leasehold with Network Rail retaining the freeholds to ensure access rights continue unaffected. Network Rail is not selling any properties in Scotland. 

Mark Carne, Network Rail’s chief executive said: “This deal will bring more investment into the commercial estate for the benefit of the local communities and it will help fund a better railway. I hope to see areas around the railway positively transformed with new and refurbished shops, amenities, and extra facilities for local people and passengers. The sale will bring a major cash boost to help fund key projects across England and Wales as part of the Railway Upgrade Plan. Passengers are about to see a bigger, better railway, with more reliable, more frequent services, and upgraded stations and facilities as these huge projects finally come to a conclusion in the months ahead.”

Network Rail spends £130m every week on infrastructure within the UK, and is actively looking for ways to add investment into significant projects such as the Thameslink programme, Crossrail and Waterloo's upgrade. 

Current tenants will transfer to the new buyer with their existing leases and notice periods unchanged with Network Rail claiming there is considerable potential to develop unused spaces to allow local businesses to grow and jobs to be created. Rothschild & Co has been appointed to handle the sale.

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