ORR closes signalling market study due to COVID-19

8 April 2020

In January 2020, the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) opened a formal study into the UK signalling market in order to explore whether there were any competition issues affecting these important supply chains, and to determine if any action was needed as a result.

Given the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, we have now taken the decision to close the market study. This will allow industry to focus on operational and safety issues during these challenging times. We were making sound progress and had reached a critical point in gathering information from industry, having identified a number of issues warranting further close investigation. We therefore considered that carrying on would place too great a burden on critical personnel, and we would have been unable to reach a fair and accurate decision by the legal deadline of 26 July 2020.

The signalling market remains a key focus for ORR, and re-opening the study when the railway returns to a ‘steady-state’ will be a high priority. In the meantime, we will continue our work in this area without placing burden on industry. We will also continue to deploy our resource and expertise to play our part in ensuring the continued, safe operation of the railway, which is critical to maintaining supply lines of goods and the transport of key workers.

A final report, setting out full reasons for why we have had to close the study at this stage will be published in due course.

Notes to editors

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Notes to editors

  1. ORR opens market study into railway signalling - 27 January 2020.
  2. ORR is the independent economic and safety regulator for the railways in Great Britain, and the monitor of performance and efficiency for England’s motorways and trunk roads. We keep the provision of railway services under review and monitor the competitive situation in rail services markets.
  3. Market studies can lead to a variety of outcomes including:
    • Clean bill of health;
    • Referring the market to the Competition and Markets Authority for a more in-depth investigation which could result in powerful remedies;
    • Taking consumer or competition law enforcement action;
    • Making recommendations to the government to change regulations or public policy;
    • Actions which improve the quality and accessibility of information to consumers; and
    • Encouraging businesses in the market to self-regulate.
  4. Current coronavirus (COVID-19) advice for the railway industry, and a summary of ORR working arrangements at the present time.