Initial consultation on proposals to modify Network Rail’s network licence requirement on timetable publication.
28 July 2023
On 25 April 2023, we published a consultation document seeking views on two proposed changes to Network Rail’s network licence. This was prompted by Network Rail’s timetabling reform programme, Better Timetables for Passengers and Freight (BTPF) which proposed changes to the way rail timetables are produced.
The first modification proposed changing the requirement for Network Rail to provide train operators with timetable information 12 weeks in advance of train services running. The second modification proposed changing the definition of “Relevant Timetable Changes”. We also asked respondents for evidence of how finalising a timetable with less than 12 weeks’ notice would impact on planning journeys.
We have now published our decision letter which sets out:
- our decision not to proceed with the licence modifications at this time;
- a summary of responses to the licence modification proposals and views on the potential reduction of the twelve-week publication period for timetable confirmation;
- our consideration of the responses; and
- how we would consider any further timetabling-related proposals that would change either the Network Code or the network licence.
Alongside this decision, we have published a letter to the Department for Transport, Network Rail and the Industry Class Representative Committee, to provide our views on the direction of timetabling reform and passenger information.
April 2023 consultation
Date of publication: 25 April 2023
Closing date: 23 May 2023
This public consultation was on proposed changes to Condition 7.18 of Network Rail’s network licence. This condition requires Network Rail to provide train operators with timetable information 12 weeks in advance of trains running following a timetable change. Specifically, we proposed to remove the explicit reference to the 12 weeks and replace it with the requirement for Network Rail to follow the timescales in the Network Code.
In parallel, Network Rail’s timetabling reform programme, Better Timetables for Passengers and Freight (BTPF), has agreed to formalise different timelines in the Network Code for the publication of train timetables. This Network Code proposal would introduce eight weeks (instead of 12) as the deadline for Network Rail’s publication of a timetable in advance of trains running.
This would mean that train operators would only be able to inform passengers of confirmed train times at this eight-week milestone, thereby introducing a new ‘Informed Traveller’ deadline at T-8. The Network Code proposal would still require ORR approval.
Changes to Licence Condition 7.18
This consultation was on proposed changes to Network Rail Licence Condition 7.18. The amended licence requirement would be for Network Rail to follow the timescales in the Network Code. We also proposed a clarification of the technical definition of Relevant Timetable Changes in the licence.
Our consultation asked whether the proposed Network Rail licence changes achieve the following objectives:
- future proof the timetable information deadlines for industry by explicitly linking the licence and Network Code;
- improve the clarity of the Relevant Timetable Change definition; and
- at a future point, enable ORR to consider the industry-agreed proposal to amend the Network Code so timetables are finalised 8 weeks prior to trains running (T-8).
We also asked respondents for evidence of how finalising a timetable with fewer than 12 weeks’ notice would impact on planning journeys.
Publishing your response
We plan to publish all responses to this consultation on our website.
Should you wish for any information that you provide to be treated as confidential, please be aware that this may be subject to publication, or release to other parties or to disclosure, in accordance with the access to information regimes. These regimes are primarily the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR,) the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA) and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004.
Under the FOIA, there is a statutory code of practice with which public authorities must comply and which deals, amongst other things, with obligations of confidence. In view of this, if you are seeking confidentiality for information you are providing, please explain why. If we receive a request for disclosure of the information, we will take full account of your explanation, but we cannot give an assurance that confidentiality can be maintained in all circumstances. An automatic confidentiality disclaimer generated by your IT system will not, of itself, be regarded as binding on ORR.
If you are seeking to make a response in confidence, we would also be grateful if you would annex any confidential information, or provide a non-confidential summary, so that we can publish the non-confidential aspects of your response.
Any personal data you provide to us will be used for the purposes of this consultation and will be handled in accordance with our privacy notice which sets out how we comply with the General Data Protection Regulation and Data Protection Act 2018.
In responding to this consultation you consent to us:
- handling your personal data for the purposes of this consultation;
- publishing your response on our website (unless you have indicated to us that you wish for your response to be treated as confidential as set out above.)
Your consent to either of the above can be withdrawn at any time. Further information about how we handle your personal data and your rights is set out in our privacy notice.
Format of responses
So that we are able to apply web standards to content on our website, we would prefer that you email us your response either in Microsoft Word format or OpenDocument Text (.odt) format. ODT files have a fully open format and do not rely on any specific piece of software.
If you send us a PDF document, please:
- create it directly from an electronic word-processed file using PDF creation software (rather than as a scanned image of a printout); and
- ensure that the PDF's security method is set to no security in the document properties.