Investing in the rail network: Securing access

If a train operator wants to run trains on the national railway network, it needs a track access contract with Network Rail. In January 2018 we published a short guide to how investors can secure access to the national rail network. More detailed information on track access is available.

What are the Railways (Access, Management and Licensing of Railway Undertakings) Regulations 2016 and how might they affect my project?

The 2016 Regulations set out entitlements and obligations in respect of access and governance for railway undertakings, service providers and infrastructure managers. Information on the implications of these regulations is in our guidance 'The Railways (Access, Management and Licensing of Railway Undertakings) Regulations 2016'.

These regulations implement an EU Directive. Some local and other networks are not within scope.

Am I guaranteed access to a new asset I have funded?

This depends, and access contracts are normally subject to ORR approval. You do not need an access contract to use your own facilities, but you may need an access contract to use someone else's facility, even if you have funded it. In particular, if you require access to a rail network/facility to support your investment this can be secured through the use of access contracts. More information is available in our guidance Investing in the railway: securing access. If you own a service facility (a facility supplying services to a railway undertaking), under certain circumstances, you could be expected to grant access to other train operators (see the above section on the 2016 Regulations).

Can I charge other users of my asset?

The 2016 Regulations say the charge for access to, and the supply of services at, service facilities must not exceed the cost of providing it, plus ‘a reasonable profit'. You will have to publish your charges or charging principles.

For national rail infrastructure you should refer to Part 4 of the 2016 Regulations. In particular, regulation 14 concerns the establishment, determination and collection of infrastructure charges. ORR is responsible for establishing the charging framework and the specific charging rules governing the charges set by Network Rail and other infrastructure managers. For Network Rail, ORR fulfils this obligation through the periodic review process. See our guidance on the 2016 Regulations.