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Network Rail


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We run, maintain and develop Britain’s rail tracks, signalling, bridges, tunnels, level crossings, viaducts and 17 key stations.

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Planning and operating the railway

One of our most important responsibilities is to continually improve the railway so that it delivers great value for taxpayers and users - we achieve this through our role as system operator

A system operator plans and operates the network seamlessly. It also ensures all current or potential future train operators, whether they carry passengers or freight, are treated fairly when they use or seek to use the railway. We want to be as effective as we can be as system operator, which is why we are trying to improve how we choose where to invest, and how we timetable trains to make best use of the network. In particular we:

a) Plan how to meet future demand on a whole network basis using our Long Term Planning Process – building on the success of our Route Utilisation Strategy (RUS) programme.

Consult with train operators on the framework for charging them for access to our infrastructure as part of our five yearly Periodic Reviews – this informs our annual Network Statement, which contains all the information anyone wanting to operate on our infrastructure will need.

Work with passenger and freight train operators in Event Steering Groups to improve our timetable planning and strike the right balance between train running and engineering access – events like a new electrification which may require a major timetable change will be included in our Calendar of Events, which we update twice each year.

d) Integrate the work of the Event Steering Groups into our process for selling infrastructure access to current or potential train operators through the Sale of Access Rights Panel.

e) Consult relevant railway users twice a year on the Operational Rules that govern the timetable, as well as managing the Railway Operational Code, which sets out how we manage the network during and after disruption.

By arranging ourselves in ten routes supported by central system operator functions, we have improved our ability to work closely with all train operators in performing these activities.

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