Consultation launched over reform of UK rail freight property


Network Rail, the owner and operator of the national rail network, has launched an industry consultation aimed at reforming the management and ownership of rail freight property.

The consultation outlines the proposed transfer of the majority of DB Schenker Rail UK’s 250 property interests across the rail network to Network Rail. 

In a statement, Network Rail says the aim is to promote freight network capacity on the railway, facilitate competition between rail freight operators, by making a number of key sites more accessible, allow the introduction of around a dozen strategic staging yard locations across the network and identify surplus brownfield land that has the potential to be promoted for economic regeneration. 

The consultation, accessible from the Network Rail website, opened on 29 October 2012 and will close on 28 November 2012. All interested parties are invited to provide their views on the proposals. 

Tim Robinson, Director of Freight for Network Rail, said that if the proposals were adopted they would represent "the biggest change in rail freight for decades." 

His comments were echoed by Alain Thauvette, Chief Executive of DB Schenker Rail UK: "This is a progressive proposal and is good news for all users of freight trains and the entire rail freight industry." 

Maggie Simpson, Executive Director, Rail Freight Group (RFG), the UK’s leading rail freight trade association, said the proposed deal "offers strategic benefits for the growth of rail freight by separating land ownership from rail haulage and by encouraging Network Rail to take a proactive role in developing the freight business.” 

However, she went on to highlight its complexity: "RFG members and rail freight customers are likely to have legitimate concerns over any impact on their businesses. It is imperative that they respond to this consultation and that Network Rail and DB Schenker address all concerns in full, prior to the conclusion of this deal.”