Network Rail considering selling 18 major stations including London Waterloo, Paddington and Birmingham New Street

 
Francesca Washtell
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London Underground Workers Participate In The first Of Two 48-Hour Strikes
London Waterloo is one of the stations Network Rail could look to sell off (Source: Getty)

The chief executive of Network Rail, Mark Carne, has revealed he is considering selling off 18 major stations including London Waterloo, Birmingham New Street and Paddington in order to cut debt and break up what he described in the interview as a "Kremlin-type model".

Carne said there would potentially be a £1.8bn sale of 7,500 other properties, including freight yards, car parks, arches, depots and spare land, it was reported in an interview with the Financial Times.

Network Rail's telecoms network, which includes the wifi provision on board trains, 123 electrical substations and 8,000km of overheard power lines, could also be put up for sale.

Network Rail has spent an estimated £2bn renovating key stations such as Kings Cross, Birmingham New Street and Reading, while £65m has been spent repairing and renovating Paddington's Grade 1-listed roof and Isambard Kingdom Brunel's wrought iron arches in the station.

The government has been putting pressure on the British railway network authority as its running costs have edged higher in recent years and having taken on £41bn of its debt onto the Treasury's balance sheet in 2014.

A spokesperson for Network Rail said the plans are still at a very early consultation stage and the organisation is considering its options.

"We are looking to generate some £1.8bn of funds from our property assets by 2019 enabling us to invest in building a bigger, better railway," a Network Rail spokesperson said.

"We're taking a long hard look at which assets, ensuring we keep what we need to grow and expand the railway, but then looking at ways we can realise best value from the rest to reinvest."

The Institute for Economic Affairs criticised Network Rail's "hybrid" system in January, claiming in a report that full privatisation would save households an estimated £180 per year.

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