Rail access rights planning and use: 10 December 2023 timetable change


This publication provides management information on access rights planning and use. It provides a holistic view of passenger track access rights and can display how these are being used across the network. Specifically on:

  • track access applications made by freight and passenger operators of rail services in Great Britain;
  • the submission and approval timescales for passenger track applications against the timetable production milestones of the Network Code; and 
  • information on the use of access rights by passenger operators.

ORR approves (or directs) the granting of access rights and monitors the timing of Network Rail and train operators’ applications. Comparing when an application is made against the Network Code timescales is important because:

  • passengers can have greater confidence that timetabled services will run because they are supported by a contract;
  • an operator has a contractual priority giving greater certainty its related services will run as planned in the timetable; 
  • the greater certainty supports better operational planning for trains and crew.

The latest data includes applications up to the Primary Timetable Change which began operation on 10 December 2023.  Download the factsheet for more details. 

The factsheet is accompanied by a Power BI dashboard and data tables available below. 

View the glossary for more information on dashboard terminology. 

Image of the cover of the track access dashboard - click to view the dashboard

Key messages

  • Passenger train operators made 24 applications for additional or different capacity use (track access) for the timetable change date on 10 December 2023 which required ORR’s specific approval. 13 of the applications were submitted after the industry deadline for publishing the timetable, which introduces risk of timetabled services for passengers not having the right to use the network
  • Although this was a significant proportion, it represented an improvement over the May 2023 timetable change, where 21 out of 28 applications requiring ORR’s specific approval were approved after the industry timetable should have been published
  • Based on operators contracted rights to use the network, as of 10 December 2023, the industry planned to use 84 per cent of the total capacity allocated
  • Operators ran train services which actually used 80 per cent of the total capacity allocated in terms of rights
  • Use of rights for most operators is impacted by planned engineering access. However, industrial action and short notice engineering work as well as decisions by operators and funders on when services run impact the use of rights