Review of the General Approval to amend passenger track access contracts

Consultation status
Conclusions published
Date of publication

ORR sought views on a review of the scope and definitions of the General Approval for passenger track access contracts.

Consultation outcome

15 May 2023

We have published the responses to the consultation, our updated consultation document, which sets out a high-level summary of the views submitted by respondents to our consultation, and a new marked-up General Approval showing the final changes that have been made.

We have also published the Passenger Access (Short Term Timetable and Miscellaneous Changes) General Approval 2023.

September 2022 consultation

Collapse accordion Open accordion

Date of publication: 5 September 2022
Closing date: 5 October 2022

A General Approval allows Network Rail and a train operating company (TOC) to make specific changes to their track access contract (TAC) without seeking ORR approval.

The General Approval and the accompanying explanatory note for passenger track access were last reviewed in 2009. 

We proposed amendments which will help us and the rail industry now and will remain relevant to support changes which may result from industry reform. 
This review aimed to:

  • simplify the process of amending the TAC in circumstances where the proposed revisions are low risk and low impact
  • reflect the changed nature of industry since the General Approval’s introduction
  • anticipate the need for greater flexibility in the future access application process
  • clarify the circumstances in which the General Approval can be used

The proposed amendments were in the consultation document:

  • the changes we consider in line with our duties are in the 'proposals' section
  • proposals which we consider as not meeting our criteria are in the 'proposals not supported' section. 

Consultees were asked to comment on both. 

A marked-up version of the General Approval showed the proposed changes in context.

Publishing your response

Collapse accordion Open accordion

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 UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK 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 UK GDPR 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.