The Network Code

This page sets out the background of the Network Code, the set of rules behind the contractual relationship between train operating companies and freight operating companies to run their trains on Network Rail infrastructure.

The Network Code is a common set of rules and industry procedures that apply to all parties who have a contractual right of access to the track owned and operated by Network Rail.

Network Rail manages and maintains the Network Code, and all related documentation, including the full Network Code, can be found on the Network Rail website.

Our responsibility is to ensure that the Code provides appropriate contractual certainty for all affected parties and does not benefit one contractual party to a greater extent than another.

If you have any questions in relation to the Network Code, please contact us.

Description of the Code

The Network Code sets out the industry procedures governing:

  • the way in which service performance is monitored and measured (Part B);
  • modifications to the Network Code (Part C);
  • the translation of access rights into the construction of the timetable (Part D);
  • environmental protection issues (Part E);
  • the contractual arrangements governing changes to the trains used on the network and to the network itself (Parts F and G respectively);
  • the Railway Operational Code (Part H);
  • changes to access rights (Part J);
  • the flow of information between Network Rail and other access parties (Part K);
  • the process for establishing performance agreements between Network Rail and train operators (Part L);
  • appeals to the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) (Part M); and
  • the Access Dispute Resolution Rules (ADRR), setting out how disputes under access contracts are resolved, are annexed to the Network Code.

Detailed explanations of each part of the Network Code can be found in on Network Rail's website.

Safety responsibilities, for example through safety certificates and safety authorisations, and Railway Group Standards, take priority over Network Code obligations.

Approved amendments to the Network Code

Part C of the Network Code provides processes by which the Code can be modified.

  • Condition C5, which provides a democratic industry process whereby Network Rail, train operators or ORR can propose changes; and
  • Condition C8, which provides the ORR with a right to make changes.

Recent modifications are listed on the Network Code - modifications web page.

Appeals under the Network Code

Under Part M of the Network Code, parties can appeal to ORR against determinations made by the relevant panel of the Access Disputes Committee which it considers to be wrong or unjust because of a serious procedural or other irregularity.

Details of appeals made under The Railways (Access, Management and Licensing of Railway Undertakings) Regulations 2016 and the Railways Infrastructure (Access and Management) Regulations 2005 are available separately.