- What we do
What we do
We are the independent regulator of Britain’s railways. We primarily regulate:
- Health and safety
As national safety authority we regulate health and safety for the entire mainline rail network in Britain as well as London Underground, light rail, trams and the heritage sector.
Our functions as economic regulator of the mainline railway include setting Network Rail’s funding to enable it to carry out its work efficiently, ensuring that it delivers the agreed outputs whilst improving its own efficiency.
As a competition and consumer authority we use our powers to ensure that users and funders of railway services benefit from competitive railway markets and that passengers are treated fairly.
Our key roles
Our key roles are:
- ensuring the industry delivers a safe, effective and efficient system, focused on the needs of users and responsive to the priorities of funders;
- ensuring that Network Rail complies with the conditions of its railway network licence;
- enforce health and safety legislation on Britain’s railways;
- encourage continuous improvement in health and safety performance;
- providing licences to railway operators;
- setting the terms for access by operators to the railway network and other railway facilities (for example stations and depots); and
- enforcing competition law and some consumer law in the rail sector.
We are not responsible for:
- regulating fares (this is the responsibility of the Department for Transport - DfT);
- specifying and letting contracts to train operating companies to run franchised passenger services in England and inter-city services to and from Scotland and Wales (this is the responsibility of the DfT);
- specifying and letting contracts to ScotRail and Arriva Trains Wales to run franchised passenger services. This is the responsibility of Transport Scotland and the Welsh Government respectively;
- deciding on the number of trains or carriages, stopping patterns, or, timetabling of Britain’s railways. That is a matter for train operating companies (TOCs), who must meet the obligations agreed with the DfT in their franchise agreements;
- penalty fares policy or implementation (DfT);
- rail companies’ customer service provision (Passenger Focus/DfT);
- ticket refunds and compensation claims (DfT);
- civil disputes and compensation claims relating to Network Rail (Network Rail); and
- personal track safety (PTS) training and certification (Network Rail).
We have consulted on the potential for an expanded role for us in respect of new passenger rail franchises in England and Wales. It sets out areas where the Government believes there may be a case for us doing more in relation to the protection of passenger interests, in line with the Programme for Government commitment to turn the rail regulator into a powerful passenger champion.
Last updated: February 2013