Office of Rail and Road
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Regulator publishes new track access dashboard to hold industry to account on efficient use of the rail network

Today the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has published for the first time, the track access dashboard, an overview of how passenger and freight train operators are using the capacity available across the Britain's rail network (access rights) and how effectively the rail industry is meeting timetabling timescales.

ORR has worked with the rail industry to make the data publicly available in one location. ORR can help the rail industry make more efficient use of the rail network and support how ORR holds Network Rail and operators to account for meeting timetabling timescales.

The track access dashboard shows that for the December 2023 timetable change, 25 new requests for access to the rail network were made, and 16 were submitted after the industry deadline for publishing the timetable.

Late submission of access applications reduces the time to analyse impacts and introduces the risk of the timetable performing poorly for passengers.

ORR’s dashboard shows that for the December 2023 timetable, industry planned to use 84% of the rail network capacity, based on the industry data provided.

The regulator now expects Network Rail, existing and new train operators, to use ORR’s dashboard to improve use of the rail network through more efficient and effective service planning, introducing new services or releasing rights where they are no longer required.

Stephanie Tobyn, Director, Strategy, Policy and Reform, said:

“Efficient use of network capacity is important for an affordable railway and robust timetables are fundamental if passengers are going to be able to travel with confidence. 

“We’ve worked with the rail industry to increase clarity and transparency in these important areas and in doing so, we’re supporting improvement in how rail network capacity is used and timetables are planned in the interest of passengers.” 

 Notes to editor

  1. Rail access rights planning and use: 10 December 2023 timetable change
  2. Track access dashboard
  3. The Office of Rail and Road is the independent economic and safety regulator for Britain’s railways and regulator of performance and efficiency for England’s Strategic Road Network.
  4. The main train service changes take place with the introduction of new timetables twice a year, usually in May and December. Operators need to obtain contractual rights to use rail capacity, and bid for departure and arrival times in the timetable, in line with contracted deadlines. Keeping to these planning deadlines means Network Rail has enough time to produce a robust timetable for passengers.
  5. Network Rail must then confirm timetables 12 weeks in advance of services running, allowing train operators to meet their advance booking commitments. Complying with the contracted deadlines means passengers can plan and book with confidence and supports better operational planning for trains and crew.
  6. ORR’s final determination of Network Rail’s spending plans for control  period 7
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