Monitoring timetable production


​ORR is responsible for holding Network Rail to account against the conditions in its licence, which includes the requirement to produce the timetable.

ORR monitors industry compliance with timetable production timescales by gathering data from Network Rail and train operators on key milestones in the Network Code. ​

​Meeting timetable production milestones allows robust timetables to be produced on time, providing certainty to passengers and freight. Monitoring any significant changes in train operator variation requests indicates the stability of the timetable as it approaches publication. Changes close to or later than  12 weeks prior to the timetable coming into operation are of particular interest because operators have a commitment to open advance booking for passengers at the 12 week point. ​

​For details of how the rail industry produces timetables, please see our report on the timetable development process.​

Rail industry compliance with timetable production milestones - December 2023 and June 2024

This new report uses management information data on Network Rail and operators' compliance with timetable production outputs. The data is monitored and analysed during the industry process of producing a timetable for passengers and freight operators. Key messages will be made available on the ORR website after the main two timetable changes in a year. Data tables and charts will be published with the next scheduled publication in July 2024.​

​If you have any questions or feedback, please contact​

Key findings

  • Almost all operators are submitting their proposed new timetables (“bidding”) in line with the calendar milestones set by Network Rail. For the December 2023 timetable, the milestones were later than the Network Code milestones. This meant some production processes were conducted later, shortening the time available to communicate timetables to passengers and operators.​
  • 81% of operators revised their timetable bids after making an initial submission for the December 2023 timetable. A total of 1189 Train Operator Variation Requests (TOVR) were made in the 26 weeks before the new timetable came into operation. ​
  • Most TOVRs were requested by freight operators, and most freight operator TOVRs were made less than 12 weeks prior to the timetable going live. We (and industry) expect freight operators to have high TOVRS because of their business model which relies on identifying and bidding for unused capacity in the base timetable. Nonetheless, TOVRs introduce complexity in finalising the timetable. ​
  • Of the passenger operators, TransPennine Express and ScotRail had the highest number of TOVRs for the December 2023 timetable change. Most of these were in the final 12 weeks before the timetable change. This does not align with operators' commitment to open advance booking 12 weeks before the timetable goes live. ​
  • Looking ahead to the June 2024 timetable change, as of 5 April 2024, TransPennine Express and ScotRail have again made significantly more TOVRs for this timetable change than other passenger operators.