Freight terminals


Do you want to establish a freight terminal? This page will help you with the things you need to know.


The operator of the freight terminal operator will probably need a network licence exemption. See our licensing section.

Connection contracts

The facility owner will normally need a connection to the national rail network though some new terminals connect via another party's infrastructure. The arrangements for supporting a connection should be set out in contract known as a connection contract.

We have developed a model connection contract for connecting to Network Rail's network. Contracts using this model are covered by a general approval. The model connection contract can be readily adapted for other networks as necessary but they need our specific approval. If you cannot agree terms then you may be able to submit it to us for a decision. See our connection contracts web page.

Facility access agreements

Freight train operators who want to use a facility will need to enter into an agreement with the facility owner, known as a Facilities Access Agreement.  This is explained on our freight access web page.

Light maintenance depots

If your terminal includes facilities for the provision of light maintenance services it will be classified as a light maintenance depot (LMD) and additional rules will apply. See our licensing and depot access web pages.

Class exemption

At privatisation in 1994 certain named sites and types of freight terminal and LMD were exempted from the licensing and access provisions of the Railways Act 1993. Before you apply for a licence exemption or submit an access agreement you should check to see if you are already exempted from the requirements by virtue of the Railways (Class and Miscellaneous) Exemptions Order 1994 (the CMEO). Please note that the CMEO does not apply to any connection contract involving Network Rail. Also The Railways (Access, Management and Licensing of Railway Undertakings) Regulations 2016 will still apply.

Contact us

As you will see there are potentially several regulatory issues for you to consider when developing a rail linked facility. We recommend that you talk to us, with any network owners that you need to connect to, at an early stage. You can email us at: Network Rail has more detailed guidance on its website.

Further information