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Railwatch 074 - December 1997

Land appeal

RDS joined with other organisations in October in a last-minute bid to halt the sale of railway land to protect it for future rail development.

We urged the Government's transport supremo John Prescott to freeze all sales by Rail Property - the former British Rail Property Board. Mr Prescott was warned that the land should be retained for rail or other transport uses.

Even from a strictly commercial view, there is a good case for reopening many former lines for freight or passenger use.

"These property sales are asset-stripping the railway's future," said Transport 2000 director Stephen Joseph in a letter to Mr Prescott. "If the Government wants more people and freight to use the railways, this land has got to be retained for future development."

Mr Prescott was asked to freeze the sales of land because it has become clear that the situation has changed since it was decided in 1994 that the land was "surplus to railway requirements".

Railtrack has also written to Transport Minister Glenda Jackson "expressing interest" in at least half the land now held by Rail Property.

There have been several recent examples of land now thought to have a rail use being offered for sale with minimum consultation. Mr Prescott was urged to have full consultations with rail operators, and rail officers from councils and passenger transport executives before disposing of land.

He was also urged to allow only leasehold, not freehold, sales until the proposed strategic rail authority could draw up long-term plans for railway expansion.

RDS believes safeguarding this land for future transport use is vital if the Government wants to see less car use, more rail freight, and more walking, cycling and public transport use.

Our other allies on this issue are the Railfreight Group, the Association of Train Operating Companies, and the English, Welsh & Scottish Railway.

Note: contact details (postal and email addresses, along with telephone numbers) in old editions of Railwatch out of date. Click CONTACT US for latest contact details.

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