Important reminder relating to central London, central Newcastle and central Glasgow
The developer and builder in this case were not aware of the tunnel until the incident because
- Routine conveyancing searches did not include the tunnel owner, Network Rail, because the organisation was not included in the options offered by the specialist conveyancing search provider used when the development site was purchased in 2010;
- The tunnel, in common with railway tunnels in urban areas, is omitted on most mapping, including all current and historic Ordnance Survey maps and plans. Although not relevant to the accident, maps showing underground railways often show a stylised, but incorrect, alignment; and
- 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’ (this railway company no longer exists but its assets, including the incident tunnel, have passed to other organisations).
It is Ordnance Survey policy not to show railway tunnels considered to be part of an ‘underground system’ on its maps.