Will the railway people keep off our turf?

Our lawyer, Fiona McNulty, answers your questions
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Couple sitting in garden listening to rail announcement
© Merrily Harpur
Question: A railway tunnel runs under my garden and there's a brick ventilation shaft down to it. The shaft is 12ft across and about 8ft deep.

When I bought the house a year ago I knew the railway company had a right under a covenant to enter my garden from time to time to inspect the tunnel but now a neighbour tells me that the last time they inspected they used a Land Rover and a crane!

I've just spent a fortune having turf laid everywhere and a new fence built. Can I make them pay for any damage next time they exercise this right of access?

Answer: Look at your title deeds so that you are absolutely clear about the rights of access that have been granted over your land. The majority of railway lines currently in use in the UK are owned by Network Rail.

I anticipate that your deeds will show that Network Rail has a right to enter your land for the purpose of inspection, maintenance and repair of its ventilation shaft and tunnel, but that such access should be on reasonable notice except in the case of emergency, and that Network Rail must do as little damage as possible and make good any damage caused.

Do note that even if this right is not expressly granted in your title deeds the relevant railway company will be entitled by law to enter your land to carry out repairs or to prevent an accident but, again, as little damage as possible must be caused and any damage must be made good and compensation may be paid.

What's your problem?

If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, email legalsolutions@standard.co.uk. We regret that questions cannot be answered individually.

Fiona is a partner in the residential real estate team at Thring LLP (www.thrings.com).

These answers can only be a very brief commentary on the issues raised and should not be relied on as legal advice. No liability is accepted for such reliance. If you have similar issues, you should obtain advice from a solicitor.

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