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A Quick Guide to the Railways

Published Tuesday, December 4, 2018

This paper provides a brief outline of the GB rail industry, including the bodies responsible for delivering services, how new schemes are chosen and financed.

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Following privatisation in 1993, British Rail was divided into two main parts: one part being the national rail infrastructure (track, signalling, bridges, tunnels, stations and depots) and the second being the operating companies whose trains run on that network.

The infrastructure is owned by Network Rail which is regulated by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR). The Department for Transport (DfT) looks after passenger- and train-related matters. Train operating companies (TOCs), both passenger and freight, run the trains. In most cases the actual train is leased from a rolling stock company (ROSCO). Railway stations are owned by the network operator, most being leased to the TOC that is the main user of that station. Network Rail retains the operation of the main passenger terminals.

Information on other rail-related issues can be found on the Railways Briefings Page of the Parliament website.

Commons Briefing papers SN04128

Author: Louise Butcher

Topic: Railways

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