So the expected announcement came last week of Network Rail starting to sell part of its commercial property portfolio. It enables Network Rail to focus on its core business.
Good news for potential investors, many of whom have felt that railway property has been something of a missed opportunity over the years.
Dealing with any property in the vicinity of the railway is not without added complications. Statutory licensing and consents as well as access regulation along with a modified planning and landlord and tenant regime all lie in wait for the unwary. There is also the prospect of having to enter into access protection arrangements with Network Rail.
Network Rail is pushing ahead with plans to sell its commercial property portfolio, in the first part of a disposal programme aimed at shoring up the indebted infrastructure operator’s finances. The state-owned company, which runs the UK rail network, has a commercial property portfolio that includes 5,500 properties in England and Wales and is estimated to be worth more than £1bn. The majority of the properties are spaces in railway arches, which are home to a variety of small businesses, ranging from car mechanics to hairdressers. Network Rail has decided to sell its commercial estate business as one portfolio. It will officially kick off the sale on Friday, almost two-and-a-half years after it appointed Rothschild to assess its property business. The move is part of plans to raise billions to invest in the operator’s railways.