Investing in the rail network

We encourage investment in the rail network, supporting the Department for Transport and Network Rail’s ambition to make it easier for a wide range of investors (such as investment funds, scheme promoters, developers, and Local Authorities) to promote and deliver projects. There is already a well-established framework for investing in the railway. The Office of Rail and Road's (ORR) Investment Framework has been in place since 2006 and Network Rail has an equivalent document, Investing in the Network, which is highly relevant to any new investor. To date, hundreds of schemes have been promoted by investors providing benefits such as line-speed or capacity improvements, re-developed stations, and associated infrastructure such as car parks or retail outlets. It is also possible to build new lines and add them to the network. Some schemes may be multi-modal, with rail transport connections forming just one element.

We are prepared to assist local, regional and national bodies in developing projects to be safe, compliant to relevant standards and legislation and accessible to train operators. Whether you are an experienced rail industry organisation or new to the rail industry, we can help you understand and navigate the regulatory requirements we oversee.

Funding and financing in CP6

Control Period 6 (CP6) will see a major change in the funding of rail projects; access to the Regulatory Asset Base (RAB) will no longer be available for either Network Rail or investors, with Government-funded investment being via grant in future.

The RAB allowed Network Rail and investors to finance projects by borrowing against the value of the asset they were delivering at lower-than-market rates; investors will now need to either fund their projects themselves (via raising their own money or accessing their own finance) or discuss any alternative options that may be available with the Department for Transport (DfT) in England and Wales, or Transport Scotland (TS) in Scotland. If you are looking to secure access to public funding which is crucial to your business case, please engage with the relevant department as soon as possible.

ORR Contacts

If you have specific questions that are not covered here, or would like to discuss any of the regulatory issues in more detail, please contact us at investment@orr.gsi.gov.uk.

You will receive confirmation of receipt and we will allocate your query to the relevant team within ORR, who will respond.

The information below provides an introduction to the main areas where we interact with third parties investing in the railway. As our role does not include developing business cases or making funding decisions, we also set out the other main organisations you will need to engage with.

When do I need to start engaging with ORR?

As a general rule, it is helpful if you engage with us as soon as possible.

The Investment Framework

The 2010 Investment Framework provides a means for infrastructure projects to be approved, specified and delivered outside of the periodic review process.

Managing safety

You will need to comply with general health and safety requirements applicable to all UK employers.



Interoperability

Interoperability authorisation has a direct relationship to safety, but has a wider purpose of ensuring technical compatibility, reliability, performance and accessibility of new or substantially modified rail vehicles or infrastructure.

Securing access to the rail network

If a train operator wants to run trains on the national railway network, it will need a track access contract with Network Rail.

Licensing

We issue licences to show that a person is ‘fit and proper’ to operate railway assets.

What other bodies might I need to engage with?

Those wishing to invest in the national rail network or rail assets connected to it should approach various other bodies to discuss their proposals.