Licence obligations


Operators of railway assets must normally comply with a range of conditions in their licences and the Statement of National Regulatory Provisions (SNRPs).

You can view the most up-to-date model licences and SNRPs, where the conditions relevant to each operator are set out.

The text of issued licences and SNRPs can be found in the public register.

Information for passengers

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Passenger train operators are:

  • Required to provide appropriate, accurate and timely information to enable railway passengers and prospective passengers to plan and make their journeys with a reasonable degree of assurance, including when there is disruption.
  • Cooperate with Network Rail and other train operators to enable Network Rail to carry out appropriate planning of train services and to establish or change appropriate timetables to enable it to satisfy its timetabling obligations.

Station operators:

  • Shall cooperate with train operators so far as is reasonably necessary to enable them to meet their obligations to provide information to passengers.

Provision of services for disabled people

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Passenger train and station operators are normally required to produce an Accessible Travel Policy that is approved by us. The requirements are set down in the Accessible Travel Policy (ATP). For further information please contact:

Complaints procedure

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Passenger train and station operators must establish a complaints handling procedure (CHP) that complies with ORR's Complaints Code of Practice and become members of the Relevant Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) scheme. 

We have published guidance on our Complaints Code of Practice to which applicants should refer for further advice. Please contact the Consumer team for further guidance.

Insurance against third party liability

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All licensed operators and certain licence exempt operators are required to hold and maintain third party liability insurance on terms approved by us.

Read more about third party liability insurance and insurance notifications.

Claims allocation and handling

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All operators must be a party to approved arrangements governing the allocation amongst operators of liabilities and the handling of claims. The only approved arrangements are those contained in the industry Claims Allocation and Handling Agreement (CAHA), and applicants must sign up to the agreement before the licence or SNRP can come into effect.

Through-tickets and network benefits

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Most passenger train operators are required to be party to, and comply with, arrangements approved by the Department for Transport (DfT) in respect of the sale and validity of through tickets and the operation of a national telephone enquiries service. The Rail Delivery Group manages schemes already approved by the DfT that deal with these and other matters, for example, the Ticketing & Settlement Agreement and National Rail Enquiry Scheme - membership of which would normally meet the DfT's requirements.

Liaison with the Passengers' Council (PC) and LTUC

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Passenger train and station operators must engage in reasonable liaison with the PC and LTUC , attending meetings and providing information as may be reasonably required by the PC and LTUC in the course of their duties.

Rail Safety and Standards Board ( RSSB ) membership

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Most train operators are required to become members of the RSSB, as well as comply with the obligations and exercise the rights of such membership, from the point when the licence comes into force. Licence holders are also required to complete the formal and legal documentation associated with such membership within three months of the date the licence or SNRP comes into force. ORR can provide the relevant contacts at the RSSB responsible for membership applications. A turnover threshold applies in relation to small operators, based on the definition of turnover as set out in the RSSB constitution agreement.

The RSSB's principal objective is to lead and facilitate the rail industry's work to achieve continuous improvement in the health and safety performance of the railways in Great Britain. Achievement of this objective requires the involvement of as wide a range of industry parties as possible and, in particular, all those parties which operate trains on Network Rail's network.

The RSSB constitution also allows membership to cease under certain circumstances; however, the obligation in licence/SNRP conditions stipulates the requirements to become and remain members of RSSB.

Safety and standards

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All operators are required to abide by the Railway Group Standards that apply to their operations.

Rail Industry Standards are now recognised in addition to Railway Group Standards.

Environmental matters

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All operators are required to produce an environmental policy within six months of their licence or SNRP coming into effect. Our environmental guidance must be taken into account when preparing this policy. One policy can cover all of an operator's activities.

Payment of fees

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This condition provides us with the option to recover costs from operators, and in certain circumstances, the costs incurred by the Competition Commission. However, at present we recover the costs of economic regulation from Network Rail.

Change of control

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The change of control condition requires operators to notify us in writing as soon as practicable after any person obtains control of the operator, for example if the operator is taken over by another company.

Licence holder change of control application form (ODT) / change of control application form (Word).


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This condition says the licence holder shall not unduly discriminate between particular persons or between any classes or descriptions of person.

Emergency access

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Station, network and light maintenance depot operators are required to grant access, so far as they are legally able, to any person where necessary or expedient to alleviate the effect of an emergency.

Cooperation with Transport for London

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Station operators must cooperate with Transport for London in the interests of ensuring efficiency and furthering investment in services.

Changes to the Schedule

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This provision allows station and light maintenance depot operators to vary the Schedule listing the assets they are authorised to operate. If we object, normally we would serve notice on the operator within 30 days from receiving the notice, and remove the asset from the schedule.

Rail Delivery Group

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All licensed passenger and freight operators using Network Rail’s network must become licensed members of the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) and comply with the associated obligations of membership. These obligations are set out in the RDG articles of association.

A turnover threshold for membership applies which, if met, requires licence holders to ensure that an executive director or senior executive of their group should be nominated as director and alternate to sit on the RDG leadership group.

Further information about membership can be obtained from the RDG at or from its website.

Delay Compensation

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The Delay Compensation Code of Practice (CoP) sets out requirements with regards to delay compensation for passengers. 

The CoP applies to all passenger train companies in Great Britain whose passenger train licence or SNRP includes condition 29 (this does not include Eurostar’s international services, charter operators or ‘small scale’ passenger operations of limited coverage of the national mainline railway).  

For further information please review the rail compensation section of our website.

Station asset stewardship

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Some franchises are awarded on the basis that a station stewardship asset condition is included in the franchised operator's station licence. ORR is responsible for monitoring and enforcing this condition. Conditions may vary between different operators to reflect the franchise commitments. It does not apply to every station licence.