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Buying property next to the railway

There are some useful things to know if you’re thinking about buying property or land near the railway – here are some points to help you plan

We own most of the railway lines in Britain, so if you decide to buy a property or land nearby, it’s likely we’ll become neighbours.

If the railway is one of the very few we don’t own – used or disused – you can find out who owns it by checking the Land Registry records for England or Wales.

It’s also useful to know that certain lines are owned by these organisations:

Searches

As with buying any property, it’s good to arrange a conveyancing search – there is no official ‘railway search’.

Cables and pipes over or under your property

Utility companies generally keep records of the services in or over land next to the railway, so it is best to contact them to see if they can help with any queries. We don’t have records of services outside our boundaries.

Our access rights

We work hard to protect your privacy, but the law does allow us to enter land when repairs are required or to prevent an accident. Section 14 of the Railway Regulation Act 1842 explains this.

We’ll always try to give you advance notice, but there might be the rare occasion when we need to enter your land at very short notice – for example, if there’s a major safety issue.

The property’s title deed will provide specific details on access rights and restrictions.

Maintaining or building on your property

Any restrictions on building next to the railway line are mostly included in a property’s title deed, and these restrictions are usually to keep you safe – for example, due to the dangers of working near buried cables, electrified tracks or high-voltage overhead cables.

More about carrying out work near the railway

It’s important to know that if you want to maintain or build on your land, you have no legal right of access to enter the railway, although we might be able to consent to access as long as railway services and worker safety is not compromised.

Please make an application to enter our land because doing so without consent is a criminal act. Section 55 of the British Transport Commission Act 1949 explains this.

Find out how to apply to enter Network Rail land here.

We understand that you’ll need to maintain boundary walls and fences between your property and the railway, but sometimes it can be difficult to determine who has responsibility. Each case is unique and identifying liabilities for walls and fences can cost a lot and might not be conclusive. If you want to clarify or contest ownership of a boundary with the railway, you should contact us in the first instance.

Noise from the railway

Railways can be noisy places, both during normal day-to-day operation and when we’re carrying out maintenance and improvement work. We work hard to reduce noise, but a certain amount is unavoidable. Find out what noise you might expect from maintenance and engineering work and general noise and vibration from the railway.

Developing or buying our land

Are you interested in developing or buying our land? Please take a look at our page Buying Network Rail land.

More questions?

If you have a question about buying a property or land next to the railway that hasn’t been answered here, or we can help with any other aspect, please get in touch with us.