Track and signalling

20.09.16

Network Rail abandons plans to privatise telecoms network

Network Rail’s telecoms network has been excluded from its planned sale of assets, the infrastructure owner has confirmed.

Network Rail announced in March that it is considering selling off a wide range of assets, including its fibre optic and telecoms network, which delivers voice, data, video and broadband services to enable communication between trains and maintenance teams.

It is also considering finding a buyer for its electrical and land assets.

A Network Rail spokesperson said: “We started to look at options to divest of spare capacity in the telecoms network. There are now no immediate plans to progress this as we focus on other assets under consideration.”

They added that the sales were not part of plans to generate £1.8bn to fund the Rail Upgrade Plan, an ambitious programme of improvements currently being promoted in the ‘Britain Runs on Rail’ campaign.

Network Rail is facing significant funding shortfalls, with its debt due to reach £50bn by the end of the decade.

In August, Network Rail announced that it had appointed Neil Sachdev and Steve Smith as non-executive directors with responsibility for selling non-core assets through the recently-created Property board.

It has also appointed Citigroup to assess options regarding the sale of 18 major stations, including London Waterloo, Manchester Piccadilly and Birmingham New Street, with a report expected back by the end of the year. The proposals are opposed by anti-privatisation group We Own It.

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Comments

Ian Dinmore   20/09/2016 at 12:29

It's good news that NR will not now sell of their telecom assets, as the spare capacity has the potential to bring in an annual lease revenue from the 3rd party telecom operators and cable TV companies who are clamouring for additional capacity - that could be a very handy little annual fill-up for NR's hard budget management?

John Anderson   20/09/2016 at 15:58

Fortunately, someone with a functioning brain and an understanding that flogging vital assets isn't the brilliant idea that the Tory idiots would have us believe, must have remembered the utter farce which resulted from the last sell off of the Telecoms assets (the organisation is still in the recovery process from that mess).

Tothehills   21/09/2016 at 09:44

Given the move to ETCS, where telecoms is an integral part, this is definitely the right decision. My concern is that signalling systems structures are going to change very dramatically and NR's Fault finding measures are not up to it. As for John Anderson comment - I can remember when BT was state owned and state the customer service of the PO was awful. my parents had to wait 6 years for a phone line to be installed in the 70's. While BT customer services are not the best, they are still a billion times better than the abysmal self-serving quality of the 60's and 70's.

John Anderson   21/09/2016 at 11:04

FYI Tothehills, I wasn't referring to BT, I was referring to the BRT / Racal Telecom / Thales / Global Crossing / Level 3 farce after rail privatisation, which is still having a negative impact on the railway. However, I wouldn't say that BT is anything to boast about in terms of private sector 'success', still having a monopoly of physical service provision via Openreach for those of us located anywhere other than city centres. The 70s is really not a valid comparison now given advances in technology. I would suggest over 4 months to fix a simple copper cable fault just last year, with BT Retail and BT Openreach continually passing the buck between each other, and total indifference from the higher echelons when contacted, is a better indicator of the 'benefits' of the private sector.

Tothe Hills   22/09/2016 at 09:49

To JA, now I am with you. Agree with you that BT are nowhere near perfect, I have been advised to not go with them by one of their employees! Bizarrely though, they own Plusnet which has the best rating in the industry (though I think they are about to test my patience).

Lutz   27/09/2016 at 22:44

So if there is marketable spare capacity on the system, why has there been no significant take-up of that capacity by data carriers? Perhaps because the system is of no value to modern carrier operations?

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