Network Rail could be forced to sell off its telecommunications operations, under plans being considered by the Department for Transport.
The company currently operates a range of safety-critical systems, including Global Standards for Mobile - Railway (GSMR) for signalling and communication between signallers and trains, as well as the National Radio Network, Cab Secure Radio and Radio Electronic Token Block systems.
It also operates a fixed line network, including telephones on the lineside to allow train drivers to contact signallers, telephone links from level crossings for public use, CCTV systems for Driver Only Operation trains, and voice recorders for monitoring safety-critical voice communications.
The DfT is placing NR under greater scrutiny following engineering overruns at Christmas, and does not regard telecommunications activities as a core activity. Should an auction of the telecommunications network take place, some reports suggest it could raise hundreds of millions of pounds for the Government.