Safety certificates and safety authorisations

This page provides guidance on ROGS safety certificates and safety authorisations, how to apply, and useful links related to the application process.

What is a safety management system?

In essence, it is a formal arrangement for a safer working environment. All operators and duty holders are now required to have in place arrangements for managing safety risks.

A safety management system defines roles and responsibilities, sets arrangements for safety mechanisms, involves workers in the process and ensures continuous improvement.

What is safety certification and safety authorisation?

Under ROGS, no one is able to operate vehicles or manage infrastructure on UK railway unless they have obtained the appropriate safety certificate or authorisation.

Those operating transport require a certificate, and those who operate infrastructure (signals, track, bridges, etc.) require a safety authorisation. If there is a train operating company that also manages infrastructure (for example, stations), they will need both a certificate and authorisation.

Does everyone in the industry need certification or authorisation?

All mainline operators require certification/authorisation. However, some lower risk non-mainline operations do not need one (such as heritage) but they still need a safety management system.

Those excluded are:

  • operations on a transport system with a maximum speed of 40kph (25 mph); and
  • tramways, regardless of their speed.

Is there just one certificate?

For mainline railways, the safety certificate is issued according to a European harmonised format and comprises of two parts:

  • Part A – a 'European portable' certificate demonstrating safety authority (the Office of Rail and Road in Great Britain) acceptance of generic SMS components. This sets out the organisation's general safety management arrangements.
  • Part B – a certificate demonstrating safety authority acceptance of the national provisions adopted by a railway operator.

For non-mainline operators, there is only one certificate.

Operating on both mainline and non-mainline railways

Some trains are run on both mainline and non-mainline railways. Because a lot of the information needed is the same, you can apply for one certificate in one application to run on both (the application needs to be clear about which parts of it apply to the mainline railway and which parts apply to the non-mainline railway).

Mainline transport undertakings that also run on non-mainline infrastructure should apply for a mainline certificate. The mainline certificate will cover operation on both types of infrastructure.

Non-mainline transport undertakings that also run on the mainline infrastructure should apply for a non-mainline certificate. Such non-mainline operators must also show that their safety management systems are adequate for operation on the mainline railway.

Where a holder of an existing mainline or non-mainline certificate proposes to operate a tram-train service on the mainline railway and they have not previously done so, this is likely to constitute a material change to their safety certificate and they must show that their safety management systems are adequate for tram-train operation on the mainline railway. Tram-trains will need a non-mainline certificate when they operate on the mainline railway.

How do I make an application?

Applicants should read the following document which provides information about the legislation, application process and what is required from the applicant:

To apply for a mainline safety certificate, applicants are required to complete the application form.  There is no application form to complete for the following applications:

  • Non-mainline safety certificate
  • Non-mainline safety authorisation

Applicants in the above three categories should provide in writing, the type of certificate or authorisation they are applying for.

To be awarded a certificate or authorisation, the application must provide evidence that the safety management system is able to meet the assessment criteria.

Upon submission of an application, the timescales for assessment will be around four months and we will then notify whether we will award the certificate or authorisation, or; refuse the application.

If awarded, the certificate or authorisation will be valid for up to 5 years.

Where can I find ROGS safety certificates and safety authorisations issued?

The list of safety certificates and safety authorisations issued (mainline and non-mainline) contains dates of issue plus hyperlinks to the certificates/authorisations. All certificates and authorisations listed are currently valid.

Unless otherwise indicated, the reasons for issue will be that the applicant has provided sufficient evidence that its safety management system (SMS) meets the requirements of the Regulations, and that provisions adopted by it meet the requirements necessary for safe operation. Where these reasons differ, or there are specific considerations, or the application has been rejected or revoked, links will also be provided to copies of the letters sent by us to the applicants/holders. Correspondence related to decisions is available, on request, to the public.


In view of the Department for Transport's (DfT) timescales, it is necessary for all preferred bidders for a new franchise to prepare an application for a safety certificate (and safety authorisation, if appropriate) before the winning bidder is announced.

The winning bidder must then submit their application to ORR within 3 days of the DfT announcement.

All bidders are advised to contact us early in the process to discuss an application.