Rail Transport in Great Britain - Statutory Framework - I

Rail Transport in Great Britain - I
Statutory Framework
  • Railways in Great Britain are in the private sector, but they are subject to control by central government, and to economic and safety regulation by arms of government.
  • In 2006, using powers in the Railways Act 2005, the DfT took over most of the functions of the now wound up Strategic Rail Authority. The DfT now itself runs competitions for the award of passenger rail franchises, and, once awarded, monitors and enforces the contracts with the private sector franchisees. Franchises specify the passenger rail services which are to be run and the quality and other conditions (for example, the cleanliness of trains, station facilities and opening hours, the punctuality and reliability of trains) which the operators have to meet. Some franchises receive a subsidy from the DfT for doing so, and some are cash-positive, which means the franchisee pays the DfT for the contract. Some franchises start life as subsidised and, over their life, move to being cash-positive.
  • The other regulatory authority for the privatised railway is the Office of Rail and Road (previously the Office of Rail Regulation), which, following the Railways Act 2005, is the combined economic and safety regulator. It replaced the Rail Regulator on 5 July 2004. The Rail Safety and Standards Board still exists, however, established in 2003 on the recommendations of a public inquiry, it leads the industry's progress in health and safety matters.
The principal modern railway statutes are:
  • Railways Act 1993
  • Competition Act 1998 (insofar as it confers competition powers on the Office of Rail and Road)
  • Transport Act 2000
  • Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003
  • Railways Act 2005
Industry Bodies
Statutory Authorities
  • Office of Rail and Road
  • Department for Transport
  • UK Notified Bodies
Devolved Authorities
  • Transport Scotland
  • Transport for Wales
Network and Signalling Operations
  • Railtrack (1996–2002)
  • Network Rail (2002–) – (A "not for dividend" company limited by guarantee)
Other National Entities
  • Institution of Railway Operators
  • Rail Delivery Group
  • Rail Freight Group
  • Rail Passengers Council and Committees
  • Rail Safety and Standards Board
  • Rail Forum Midlands
  • Railway Industry Association
  • Railway Mission
  • Railway Study Association
Trade Unions
The railways are one of the most heavily unionised industrial sectors in the UK.
  • Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen (ASLEF)
  • National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT)
  • Transport Salaried Staffs' Association (TSSA)
Rail Transport in Great Britain Overview
Infrastructure Company: Network Rail (until 2024)
Major Operators:
National Rail franchisees
Independent operators
State-owned operators
Ridership: 1.738 billion (2019/20)
Passenger km: 66.8 km (41.5 mi) billion (2019/20)
System Length Total: 15,811 km (9,824 mi)
Electrified: 5,374 km (3,339 mi)
No. Stations: 2,576
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