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Is This The Age of The Train?

Improving rail transport links can enhance property values: Mark Hempshell reports

In the 1980s the then British Rail ran a now infamous advertising campaign proudly proclaiming This Is The Age Of The Train. Over thirty years later, some might say that levels of service, journey times and capacity on some routes are struggling to even keep up with 1980s standards. It seems to be 'all change' at the moment though, with Network Rail recently announcing plans to invest billions in our railway infrastructure and bring it right up to date.

In property it's a widely held belief that location is key. And specifically, if you make a location more accessible, then occupier demand and capital values will appreciate.

So in this report we will look at what improvements are being made to the national rail network. Then try to identify locations where, just possibly, property investors could enjoy a rise in values as a result.

What is happening? According to Network Rail around 1.5bn passenger journeys are now made by rail each year. Passenger numbers have almost doubled over the last decade and continue to rise. By 2019 another 225m more passenger journeys will be made each year, and the railways will be carrying more people than at any time in history.

Network Rail has announced a five year plan to invest £38bn in infrastructure. This includes some new railways, 850 miles of electrification, new stations and upgrades, plus speed and capacity improvements. Capacity improvements alone will allow 20% more passengers to be accommodated on London commuter trains and 700 more daily trains between northern commuter cities. In addition, £13bn will be put into renewing associated infrastructure.

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