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Freight property interests could be transferred to Network Rail

A consultation has been launched proposing the transfer of DB Schenker Rail UK’s 250 property interests across the network to Network Rail.

The move could promote capacity and enable improved time-keeping, and make the railway more attractive for freight. The transfer could facilitate competition between operators, allow the introduction of strategic staging of yard locations and identify surplus brownfield land for the promotion of economic regeneration. 

Tim Robinson, director of freight for Network Rail, said: “These proposals represent the biggest change in rail freight for decades. If implemented, they will meet objectives of the McNulty report and the Office of Rail Regulation's market study into rail freight by enhancing open access, and promoting a more efficient and effective use of the railway network by freight traffic in coming years, as well as enabling redundant land to be redeveloped.”

Alain Thauvette, chief executive of DB Schenker Rail UK, said: “By transferring the majority of our property interests to Network Rail, we will modernise the rail freight industry. This is a progressive proposal and is good news for all users of freight trains and the entire rail freight industry.

“This will allow DB Schenker Rail UK to invest in new terminals and rail freight facilities, increasing the volume of freight moved by rail. Our direct competition is with road haulage, and these reforms enable the rail freight industry to compete more effectively to secure modal shift to the railway and reduce carbon emissions in the process.”

Maggie Simpson, executive director of the Rail Freight Group, said: “We welcome this consultation setting out the proposals for reform of DB Schenker's land and property interests. 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, this is a complex deal, and 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.”

The consultation is now open until November 28 and is at:

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