Thursday, 10 December 2009

Lord Adonis flogs off Kings Lynn station car park

Not many outside the industry know that the British Railways Board still exists, albeit in a residuary capacity.

Known, surprisingly enough, as British Railways Board (Residuary), it is the repository for much of the former nationalised industry's liabilities, in particular claims relating to industrial disease - asbestosis, emphysema and other unpleasantness suffered as a consequence of working on the railway.

It is also tasked with the management and disposal of the industry's remaining land and buildings, which are surplus to the needs of the operational railway.

In most cases this relates to disused tunnels, bridges and viaducts, old track formations, abandoned goods yards and the like - which today's railway has no interest in.

Where possible BRB(R) tries to sell these disused assets off - raising a couple of bob in the process for HMG and getting shot of the liability at the same time.

The BRB(R) is chaired by Doug Sutherland, the former SRA's finance director, and he reports directly to the Secretary of State.

So far so good.

And mostly the BRB(R) does indeed do a pretty good job.

But there are exceptions.

Take the overspill car park at Kings Lynn for example.

Almost four years ago a 96-space overspill car park was built on a plot of land owned by BRB(R).

The BRB(R) has now decided to sell that land, complete with overspill car park, and it has been entered into a Residential Auction to be held by Allsops next Tuesday the 15th December (Lot 83)

The sale could raise as much as £400,000 for the Treasury, which in these fiscally challenging times is not be sniffed at.

After all the BRB(R) is merely fulfilling its remit.

However, according to the BRB(R)'s website:

Land is only disposed of when it has been agreed with the Department for Transport that there is no need for it to be retained for future railway purposes.

Surely a well used overspill car park serving a busy station like Kings Lynn is very much a railway purpose and it ought to be retained for use today, let alone in the future?

Therefore, it is unimaginable that the Department for Transport (prop. Lord Adonis) could have sanctioned the sale of the land to a developer who will not have the interest of rail passengers in mind.

So Eye wonders whether the Noble Lord is paying lip-service to modal shift or whether he continues to be badly advised?

The buck stops with you My Lord - what will you do?

UPDATE: This from the saintly Driver Joseph Locke...

After reading your item on the Kings Lynn car park, I turned to the alliteratively titled section 6.46 ("Prioritising projects and programmes") of the Pre-Budget Report.

The section where it promises to save £170 million by (among other things) increasing the capacity of station car parks.

I wonder if the BRB(Residuary) has read it yet?

UPDATE: This from Charles Yerkes...

Forget whether BRB(R) has read it.

Has the Department for Transport, they approve land sales.