Promoting and protecting competition

We work to ensure that rail markets are competitive and fair – for passengers, freight customers, railway operators and taxpayers.

We do this by integrating our economic, competition and consumer functions and powers. Economic powers are an effective tool in addressing barriers to market entry and, in particular, tackling any incumbent advantages arising from ownership of key facilities and infrastructure. Competition powers can be used effectively to protect new entry and ensure conditions for its growth, and to send out powerful signals as to what is and is not an appropriate response by incumbents to new entry occurring.

The powers we use to promote competition are set out below:

  • Monitoring markets: carrying out market reviews, formal market studies under the Enterprise Act 2002 and making directions to businesses to correct market distortions or address undesirable developments under the Railways (Access, Management and Licensing of Railway Undertakings) Regulations 2016.
  • Assessing applications for access to the network.
  • Investigating companies who are in breach of competition law. See details of current and past investigations.

Competition Act 1998

The Competition Act 1998 prohibits any agreement, business practice or conduct which has, or could have, a damaging effect on competition in the United Kingdom.

How to report a breach of competition law

Reports from consumers and businesses about anti-competitive behaviour or problems in markets are vital in helping the ORR to ensure that the rail market is competitive and fair.

Competition Act 1998 investigations

We have enforcement powers under the Competition Act 1998. This page contains details of the investigations carried out under the Act.