Making an application

Applications for our approval must be made under section 18 of the Railways Act 1993 (new access agreements) or section 22 (amendments to access agreements). 

Depending on their nature, some amendments may be automatically approved under a general approval.

When the parties cannot agree the terms of a new agreement or amendments to an existing one, the party seeking access can ask us to direct an agreement under sections 17 or 22A of the Railways Act 1993, respectively using the relevant form below.

We have published criteria and procedures for the approval of:

These documents are intended to be a comprehensive reference guide for use by any party intending to make a submission to us for consideration of regulatory approval.

Applications for our approval should ideally be made electronically. Hard copies can be submitted, but we will usually also request an electronic version of the application. Please contact us to submit an application electronically.

General approval

Sections 18(1)(c) and 22(3) of the Railways Act 1993 enable us to give its prior approval for new access agreements and to the amendment of existing agreements.

We anticipate that the majority of applications to us could be submitted in accordance with a general approval, provided that certain preconditions are met.

Submissions made in accordance with a general approval typically undergo less scrutiny than submissions made for consideration of our specific approval. The use of general approvals is also consistent with our agenda of handing responsibility to the railway industry, in addition to allowing us to focus on areas where it can provide greater value, including policy development.

Specific approval

Where an application cannot be made under a general approval, it may still be submitted to us to consider granting our specific approval.

Specific approval should be sought for amendments to agreements which do not fall under a general approval, or for new agreements which deviate from the permitted departures outlined in the guidance notes to our general approvals.

To discuss any aspect of making an application to us, please contact us.

Station and depot change proposals

ORR will not typically comment on proposals for change if submitted to us, and will await formal submission for our approval of any subsequent amendments to the access documentation. The Stations & Depots and Network Code team can provide general advice, if requested, in advance of any submission.

Any safety related queries about a proposal for change should be sent directly to our railway safety directorate at an early stage in the station/depot change process.