Stations “the most dysfunctional part of the network” says Network Rail boss
Railways stations are the “most dysfunctional part of the network” according to Network Rail’s property development director, Stuart Kirkwood.
Addressing Landor’s conference he said: “Station ownership is very fragmented as there is no single owner or guiding mind to manage them or realise their full potential. So we are working with the government to set up a station company for our managed stations and introduce a proper form of integrated control. We shall also introduce private sector capital to meet funding challenges.”
Kirkwood added that until fairly recently stations were not seen as engines of growth in their own right or as catalysts for wider regeneration, though this was now beginning to change.
“The number of passenger journeys using the network continues to rise (1.65 billion in 2014/15) and is expected to reach 2 billion in 2020. Network Rail owns 2,500 stations and manages 18 of the largest: 850 million visitors were recorded in 2015; the billionth mark should be reached in 2020.
“Sales growth from our managed stations was more than 6% in2014/15; that was ten times higher than the high street. Proceeds from our property realised £1.4bn during CP4 (2009-14) and is expected to reach £1.8bn in CP5 (2014-19). We are considering disposing of around 250 surplus sites to raise revenue. We can no longer rely on the record levels of public support we previously enjoyed.”
This was a reference to the belt-tightening now underway to plug the deficit in CP5 funding for major infrastructure works. Kirkwood also pointed out that the success of the Kings Cross /St Pancras redevelopment was largely underwritten by public sector funding that Argent (the private sector developer) was able to build on. Public sector funding would not be so generous in the future.
An exclusive report from Landor’s 16th Rail Stations & Property Summit, London, 18 February, 2016