Network Rail licence enforcement powers

Enforcement is one of our key functions, and we shall use our powers firmly but fairly and in a timely manner. Our economic enforcement policy and penalties statement pdf icon PDF, 343 Kb explains our policy for enforcing all licences. It sets out in detail what powers we have to enforce compliance with the licence and our policies on when (and why) we would do so. It also sets out the remedies available to us if Network Rail and other licence holders are not compliant and how we will decide whether and how to use them.

In this section:

Powers of enforcement

We have substantial powers at our disposal to enforce railway and safety legislation.

  • The power to enforce licence conditions is under the Railways Act 1993.
  • The periodic review process sets out the charges to operate the network and the outputs that Network Rail should provide for that money.
  • The outputs that Network Rail is required to deliver are monitored and enforced by us under the network licence.
  • We are also a competition authority with powers to enforce UK and European competition law in relation to the railways.
  • The enforcement of contracts and industry wide codes is with the contract parties and as such we have no direct enforcement powers.

How we enforce Network Rail's licence

We monitor the industry's delivery of its key regulatory and public interest obligations. We also investigate complaints about the behaviour of industry parties. In some cases, our monitoring or investigation of complaints can lead to consideration of whether there has been, is, or likely to be, a breach of a licence obligation or of competition law.

Decisions on breaches of licence obligations or competition law are matters for our Board. Before making a recommendation to our Board, we will send the party under investigation a "case to answer" letter. This letter will explain what we are concerned about and why, and will describe the relevant licence condition and the nature of the possible breach. The letter will give the licence holder a reasonable time (which will vary depending on the case and its urgency) within which to make representations on the case. Following this, we will consider the representations and put a recommendation to our Board on whether we think there has been a breach and if further action should be taken. In some circumstances, we may wish to ask further questions.

After the Board has made a decision, we will send the licence holder a further letter explaining the decision. If the Board finds a breach, this letter may also contain details of any action we require or any penalty we propose to impose.

In the case of possible breaches of competition law, we will issue a statement of objection in the same way as other competition authorities.