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Review to sort out finances

Edinburgh Waverley ‘on list of stations for sale’

Waverley station passenger ticket gateEdinburgh Waverley, Manchester Piccadilly and London Waterloo are said to be on a list of rail stations which Network Rail is preparing to sell in a major privatisation exercise.

Citigroup is understood to have been hired to look at options for selling some of the busiest rail and retail concourses in Britain.

Government ministers are keen to sort out Network Rail’s financial difficulties, which include a debt expected to rise to £50 billion by 2020.

It moved from being a semi-autonomous body to a formal part of government in September 2014, but a full privatisation of Network Rail could be on the cards.

Phil Verster, managing director of the ScotRail Alliance – a partnership launched last May between ScotRail and Network Rail – told Daily Business that its progress is being watched around the country.

A similar partnership has operated in the southwest, but on a smaller scale than in Scotland where Mr Verster said the integrated approach to projects was proving to be a “massively powerful” proposition.

Network Rail, the Treasury and the Department for Transport have commissioned a series of reviews of the organisation and have asked advisers to raise money by selling part of is property portfolio.

Nicola Shaw, the chief executive of the High Speed One link that runs from St Pancras in London to the Channel tunnel in Kent, is leading an inquiry into privatising Network Rail.

According to The Independent on Sunday it may recommend it remains in the public sector, but allows for infrastructure projects to be financed privately.

The paper adds that Citigroup’s options will include asking firms to run just the shops in the stations, grouping several together for sale, or offering individual concessions.

> Interview with Phil Verster

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