Plenty of land: Leagrave station Picture by Network Rail

Government plans to sell off rail stations and other assets could cost taxpayers £10 billion over the next decade, campaigners warned today, 27 June 2016.

The warning comes after the Shaw report in March advised the Government to consider bringing more private companies into the rail system.

Now the campaign group We Own It, whose slogan is “Public service for people not profit”, says more privatisation would be a ticket to disaster.

Not-for-profit Network Rail owns much of the national railway system, including track, stations, car parks, freight yards and its electrical and telecommunications networks.

Network Rail has been trying to catch up on decades of under-investment in the rail system but the Government panicked when the cost of electrification escalated because of practical difficulties on the Great Western route.

Now the Government wants the company to sell off many of its assets, with stretches of track going to different train firms, and Network Rail’s chief executive Mark Carne has agreed to this.

Network Rail is now considering selling its largest railway stations, railway land, power stations and telecommunications equipment. 

In a report by Lynn Sloman of Transport for Quality of Life, the cost of the sale and the loss of income, would be £10 billion over the next 10 years, even though Network Rail thinks it can raise £1.8 billion from the sale.

“It is a grotesque false economy,” said Mick Cash, general secretary of the rail union RMT. "Only a fool, or someone with a twisted political ideology, would  sell of our national rail assets at a loss. The Tories hit that mark on both counts. The flogging off of stations and infrastructure should be halted immediately‎."

Ms Sloman’s figure includes billions lost in income from stations, commercial property and rent for phone masts.

Ms Sloman warned that Britain’s rail network would become a “Humpty Dumpty railway” if more parts of it were sold off.

“It will be almost impossible to put the pieces together again,” she said.

Cat Hobbs, director of We Own It, said: “The assets should be managed for our benefit, not given away.”

An article about the We Own It report was published by the Daily Mirror but ignored by other newspapers and the BBC.

More information: weownit