// Train companies seek government bail out or aid for station retail tenants
// Rail Delivery Group sends proposals to Department for Transport to introduce rent cuts & payment holidays for retail tenants
The UK Government is being urged to introduce rent cuts and payment holidays for retail tenants at railway stations to help them ride out the coronavirus pandemic.
According to The Financial Times, the Rail Delivery Group has sent proposals to the Department for Transport as retailers have been asked to pay full rent for their stores train stations, many of which are operated directly or indirectly by the government.
The Rail Delivery Group represents passenger and freight rail companies.
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It comes after revenues from travel retail plunged to all-time lows when people were forced to stay home during lockdown, and footfall and travel numbers since the easing of lockdown in mid-June continues to be sluggish.
Rail Delivery Group’s proposal includes changes to rents – including longer term leases or the possibility of linking them to passenger demand – as well as the introduction of payment plans to help retail tenants manage cash flows.
The BRC recently wrote to Transport Minister Chris Heaton-Harris to ask why train stations, including those operated by the Department for Transport (DfT), had not been helping struggling retailers.
Train station operators have said they were unable to support retail tenants because the government took control of the finances of franchised train-operating companies in March as part of emergency measures.
However, a DfT spokesman said these train-operating companies remained landlords and had the power to provide rent relief or agree to new lease terms.
Network Rail, which controls 20 stations around the UK, and Transport for London both waived or discounted rents during lockdown.
However, the other 2500 stations across the UK are managed by train-operating companies, with around half of them having retail tenants.