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Railways: Property Transfer

Question for Department for Transport

UIN 33637, tabled on 12 April 2016

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department has taken to protect alignments of disused rail lines on publicly-owned land from inappropriate development since May 2010; and whether his Department has established any successor arrangements to BRB (Residuary) Ltd's former Property Review Group.

Answered on

18 April 2016

There are various different ways of protecting land for future railway use but local authorities are usually best placed to identify such land. Guidance issued by the Department for Communities and Local Government, ‘Planning Policy Guidance 13: Transport’, states that when preparing development plans and considering planning applications, local authorities should “ … protect sites and routes which could be critical in developing infrastructure to widen transport choices for both passenger and freight movements.”

As part of the abolition of BRB Residuary Ltd in 2013, land identified for potential operational use was transferred to Network Rail.

Condition 7 of Network Rail’s operating licence requires the Office of Rail and Road (‘ORR’) to grant consent for any proposal to dispose of any land in Network Rail’s ownership. ORR has issued a general consent, allowing some forms of disposal to be implemented without prior notice. The process for seeking consent requires Network Rail to carry out a wide consultation covering the rail industry and other interested bodies, including the Department, local authorities, ports and airports etc. Further details of ORR’s land disposal policy may be found at

The Department for Transport also has a role in protecting land for future rail use, for example through Safeguarding Directions for major schemes such as HS2 and Crossrail.

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