A company called Ultramast, which used to be a 50:50 joint venture between Network Rail and Marconi until it was sold in late 2002 to engineering group Jarvis, claimed on its website that “With access to the telecommunications expertise of Marconi and the unique property portfolios of Railtrack and British Waterways”, it aims to “offer phone operating companies the ability to rapidly enhance their network coverage by implementing a quick mast roll-out plan across the country in locations that have not been previously accessible to them.”

They claimed that they were not reliant on ‘permitted development rights’ under Part 17(A) of the GPDO, which implies that they are hoping to use the Part 24 or Part 25 permitted development rights of commercial operators to erect many hundreds, perhaps thousands, of 15-metre GPRS or G3 masts alongside Network Rail's 30-metre GSM-R masts.

The company has now adopted a very low profile - its website's home page is no longer accessible, though you can reach some pages by searching for Ultramast on Google.

Jarvis has now sold the company.

AMEC: The Mast Project

We also came across a page on the website of AMEC, a project management and services company, describing a contract they have with Network Rail called The Mast Project, which is summarised as follows:

Cellular phone companies are rapidly expanding the number of base station sites needed to support their network infrastructure. Due to a shortage of available green field sites that are likely to be acceptable to local planning authorities, they have been approaching Railtrack with a view to erecting masts on Railtrack land. This mainly involves replacing the existing Railtrack Cab Secure Radio mast with a Cellular mast.

It seems that the CSR antenna are then hung on the new masts alongside the cellular phone antennae. So presumably the GSM-R masts will be in addition to these new masts, rather than replacing Network Rail's existing masts.