CLC reminder to include railway tunnels in searches

The Council for Licensed Conveyancers has issued a reminder to ensure searches include railway tunnels.

In inner London, conveyancers are reminded to search for Network Rail and Transport for London tunnels, while those commissioning searches in central Newcastle should consider the Tyne and Wear Metro and those in central Glasgow need to keep the Glasgow subway in mind.

The reminder came at the behest of the Rail Accident Investigation Branch, after a housing developer bored piling shafts through an underground railway tunnel in London last March.

The CLC explains why the developer was not aware of the tunnel beforehand, and one reason it gives is that routine conveyancing searches not including the tunnel owner as the organisation (Network Rail) was not included in the options offered by the specialist conveyancing search provider used when the development site was purchased.

Another reason it gives is that the tunnel is omitted on most mapping, including all current and and historic Ordnance Survey maps and plans, which is the same as railway tunnels in urban areas and the CLC points out that maps showing underground railways often show a stylised, but incorrect, alignment.

The council also said that the developer proceeded without understanding the significance of a Land Registry entry for the development site stating ‘so much of the sub-soil as was vested in the Great Northern and City Railway is excluded from the registration’ meaning the railway company, no longer in existetence, has had its assets passed to other organisations.

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