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  • Buying property next to the railway

    Whether you’re buying land or a house, there are some important things you might need to know

  • The majority of railway lines currently being used in Great Britain are owned by us so if you’re buying a property near the railway it’s likely you’ll be one of our neighbours.

    There are some disused ones which we don’t own. You can establish the current owner by checking the Land Registry records:

    Some lines could also be owned by the following organisations:

    Access to your property and the railway

    While we work hard to protect your privacy, the law does allow us to enter your land in order to carry out repairs or to prevent an accident (see section 14 of the Railway Regulation Act 1842).

    We’ll always try to let you know if we need to do this, but on rare occasions we may have to do it at very short notice such as when there’s a major safety issue.

    For more details on rights and restrictions check the title deed to your property.

    Development work along the railway

    It’s possible that a disused railway line might be reactivated or the number of trains using a line could change.

    We publish a document called the Route Utilisation Strategy (RUS) which outlines our development plans for the future.

    Check the RUS for your area

    We’re not the sole authority in charge of these developments so it is difficult to be 100% accurate with what developments will take place.

    It’s worth checking with your local authority too – some developments such as new railway lines have to be logged with them for planning permission first.

    Other companies too may be planning to build on the railway. We let out a number of depots and stations to train and freight operating companies and they may have plans to develop those facilities.

    Maintaining your property, walls and fences

    There may be restrictions on building next to the railway line – these are usually included in your title deed.

    These restrictions tend to be about safety such as the dangers of working near high voltage electricity cables overhead.

    If you want to maintain or build on your land, you have no legal right of access to enter the railway. We might give you consent so long as railway services and the safety of the builders are not compromised.

    Please contact us first before you enter our land as doing so without consent is a criminal act (according to section 55 of the British Transport Commission Act 1949).

    Apply to enter Network Rail land

    When it comes to maintaining boundary walls and fences between your property and the railway, it’s difficult to know who has responsibility.

    Each case is unique and identifying liabilities for walls and fences can cost a lot and might not be conclusive

    Making a 'railway search'

    If you’re buying a house you may be advised to carry out a conveyancing search. There’s no official railway search but, while we have no legal obligation to respond to these requests, we will be as helpful as we can.

    Network Rail cables over or beneath your property

    Unfortunately we don’t hold records of the services we have in land next to the railway. This information is generally kept by the utility companies so you should contact them in the first instance to see if they can help.

    More information

    If you want to know more about buying a house next to the railway, or have a problem with any of the issues above you can get in touch with us.

    If you're interested in doing business with us, please see our code of practice.