Rail owner’s board minutes had indicated the Treasury wanted property sell-off cash

The government has denied it is planning to grab around £1.8bn in proceeds from the sale of Network Rail property assets, despite board minutes from the railways owner indicating this was a possibility.

Network Rail is in the process of selling surplus land and property, under plans launched in the wake of the Hendy Report 18 months ago.

The organisation hopes the property sell-off will raise £1.8bn to pay towards upgrade works, but minutes from a board meeting held in September, released this month, suggested the Treasury wanted the money instead to help pay down the deficit.

The board minutes noted “there was a realistic prospect of a significant shortfall in funding, as [the Treasury was] now requiring the proceeds of the asset disposals programme to count towards deficit reduction thus handicapping Network Rail’s use of the cash to fund rail enhancement schemes”.

The papers said talks with the Treasury and the Department for Transport (DfT) to resolve the funding question would continue.

The DfT this week issued a statement denying the government was planning a raid on Network Rail’s property sell-off proceeds.

A DfT spokesperson said: “Network Rail is continuing to sell assets to generate more funding for the Railway Upgrade Plan. These proceeds will not be used to pay off the deficit.”