How we prioritise our activities


Our enforcement powers are established by legislation.

The most important laws that apply to us are:

  • Economic enforcement (Railways Act 1993);
  • Competition enforcement (Competition Act 1998);
  • Powers and functions¬†under the Railways (Access, Management and Licensing of Railway Undertakings) Regulations 2016 and other associated legislation;
  • Market studies and market investigation references (Enterprise Act 2002);
  • Consumer enforcement (Consumer Rights Act 2015 and Part 8 of the Enterprise Act).

We prioritise our activities to help us focus our resource in a way that will deliver most value out of our interventions.

When planning actions we consider:

  • Strategic significance
    We will consider how our intervention will deliver outcomes which are in line with our strategic objectives; for example to secure value for money from the railway, for users and funders.
  • Are we best placed to act?
    In some cases, it may be more appropriate for a body other than ORR to investigate or take action (e.g. a passenger body, the franchising authority or an industry association). We will consider, on a case-by-case basis, whether or not there are other organisations better placed to take the matter forward.
  • Impact
    An important consideration for us will be the likely impact of our intervention. Factors which we will take into consideration in measuring that impact include:
    • The actual or potential level of harm (which, depending on the circumstances, could be harm to passengers, taxpayers or other railway users);
    • Evidence to suggest a systemic rather than an isolated incident;
    • Circumstances that suggest conduct that is recurrent and/or ongoing;
    • Whether the conduct in question is leading or could lead to inefficiencies in the market either in terms of costs or end prices to consumers.
    • The likely deterrent effect or any other beneficial effects such as raised awareness amongst consumers. This impact can be in the market in question or in related markets.
  • Costs
    For efficiency reasons we will estimate the internal and external costs attached to our intervention. The internal costs will include any opportunity costs (e.g. knock-on effects on our current and future portfolio of strategic work). It is important that the costs of our intervention are proportionate to the impact that we are seeking.
  • Risks
    We will adopt a risk-based approach when assessing whether or not a matter constitutes a priority. The risks that we will consider include:
    • The probability of a successful outcome particularly in terms of better outcomes for taxpayers, passengers or other railway users; the legal risks, notably the strength of the evidence available or likely to become available during the investigation; and
    • The impact of our decisions on our reputation since credibility plays an important role in the overall effectiveness of the regime.

The list of criteria set out above is not exhaustive and we may consider other factors where appropriate.