Why choose Network Rail development and commercial land?

We have been releasing land for development for over a decade through successful partnerships with both the public and the private sectors; all to deliver for the railway and for Britain. We’re also working across the UK to deliver positive outcomes for housing, jobs and economic growth. We are committed to supporting third-party investment into the railway and have overseen billions of pounds of investment.

We are Open for Business as outlined in the Hansford Review 2017 and have suitable experience to support your requirements, allowing us to provide the best sought developments and secure sites that appeal to all preferences – near stations, close to retail and restaurants, excellent commutable surroundings etc.

By choosing to partner with Network Rail, you enter an agreement that provides clarity and a bond of trust. A guidance document has been produced to assist third-party developers working in the railway environment. The document is available to download or is easily viewable in the sections below.

Guidance for prospective development partners
(258.7 KB) (pdf)

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The following guidance is to give you an introduction to some of the processes you may encounter when working on Network Rail (NR) land.

This note is not intended to be exhaustive or definitive but is designed to provide you with key information, which will enable you to work closely with Network Rail to deliver your proposed development safely and successfully. It is recommended that you seek independent legal advice.

As a confirmed land purchaser or developer, you will be working with a surveyor from Network Rail’s Property team. Part of their role is to be your point of contact in Network Rail and to help you navigate your way through the process of developing near railway infrastructure.

You will be expected to confirm:

  • details of the land you wish to acquire as advertised on our website
  • proposed use of the land
  • any temporary or permanent rights to be required
  • details of any works required on the land

Please note that our website will make clear, where necessary, any Clearances and Consents that have already been obtained and therefore where timescales will be adjusted accordingly.

In general, Network Rail will be required to market its land openly. This will usually involve external consultants in addition to Network Rail’s own website. Network Rail will usually only consider off-market transactions where combining Network Rail’s land with that of an adjoining owner would add demonstrable additional value.


The sale of railway land involves technical investigations, which are required to ensure the safe and efficient running of the railway. Due to the number of enquiries we receive and the level of abortive costs that can arise out of such investigations, we will require an initial cost undertaking, followed by non-refundable payments in advance at each stage to cover costs incurred by Network Rail Property. These are detailed in the document titled Guidance for prospective development partners.’

Regulatory Processes

Network Rail is a regulated company, regulated by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), an independent regulatory body.  Network Rail must comply with any legislation applicable to it and its activities. In terms of other external commitments, Network Rail must comply with the following:

  • Network (and Station) Licence
  • Our Contracts
  • Station Change
  • Accessibility
  • Network Change
  • Closure
  • Land Disposal
  • Stakeholder Engagement

Information on the above compliance procedures can be found in the document titled Guidance for prospective development partners.’

Working on Network Rail land

When carrying out works on Network Rail land, you will be required to comply with Network Rail, ORR and Her Majesty’s Railway Inspectorate standards. Therefore, appropriately qualified consultants are an essential part of the professional team who should be able to access and advise on current standards and procedures. It is essential that the personnel employed by you have the required experience and expertise.

Asset Protection

Why do Network Rail use Asset Protection? – “Network Rail makes the safety of passengers and colleagues its number one priority and wishes to avoid any risks that could result in injury or loss of life to public, passengers and workforce”.

Further information on Asset Protection can be found in the document titled Guidance for prospective development partners.’

How can you get further information?

Any aspect of your property development proposal can be discussed with your Network Rail surveyor who will be appointed at the outset of your dealings with Network Rail.

Further guidance on Network Rail’s regulatory obligations can be obtained from the Regulatory Compliance & Reporting team:

Further guidance on asset protection and opportunities for third parties can be obtained via the link below.

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