Last update 1 January 2019
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Station access introduction | Rail franchises | Station operators
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Under ordinary running, a train operator cannot call at any station (other than those it manages) at any time; it has to have an agreement in place with the station operator (in an emergency pragmatism comes into play). These station access agreements typically set out what the station operator will do, what the train operator (defined as the 'beneficiary') will do and how much the beneficiary will pay towards upkeep and operating costs. Access agreements are regulated by the ORR and are available in its public register. In theory, every station/beneficiary/SFO combination requires a separate agreement and the earliest contracts were set up this way. Later, multiple stations were dealt with in the same agreement.
The earliest station access rights pre-empted franchises in having contracts set-up between BR operating units. The early contracts ran to a fixed date, which had to be extended periodically. To simplify arrangements, later contracts settled on having expiry dates put as 'end of franchise' (the sooner of the beneficiary and SFO); the exact wording varies.
This listing shows operating companies under their legal names, whether franchised or 'open access', that run timetabled public services. Specifically excluded, therefore, are 'charter' companies such as Rail express systems and West Coast Railways; these companies generally have rights to all stations for most operators. Also excluded are freight companies that have station access rights for operational purposes (e.g. changing drivers). Borderline cases have the 'benefit of the doubt' and are included here. Early franchises often negotiated charter rights way outside their normal operating areas; these are included here, as are rights for service diversion to out-of-the-ordinary stations. Some diversionary or charter access rights lasted for one or two days only. Note that the existence of agreements does not necessarily mean the beneficiary ever used any given station. Occasionally, an operator has both 'normal' and charter rights simultaneously, reflecting the different conditions that apply in each circumstance.
The ORR register is incomplete. The lack of detail may be because a contract is missing, a modification is missing or either is present but some pages are missing. Additionally, the search function does not always return all results and alternative search terms, or even the same terms in a different order, are necessary. This relies on the user knowing what results to expect and modifying the search until they appear. If the results are not known they cannot be sought.
Many contract extensions are, apparently, missing from the register, particularly (but not only) concerning Wales & West Passenger Trains, Thameslink Rail and First Capital Connect.
Where agreements expire 'at the end of the franchise', it is possible that misunderstandings have crept in owing to uncertainty over service pattern changes. This is particularly true concerning the start of the First/Keolis Transpennine franchise that took over some Arriva Trains Northern and North Western Trains Company services in stages. Correction of any errors will be welcome.
Where access rights are shown multiple times under one SFO but with inferred dates, this implies that an agreement extension has not been found on the public register but it is known that trains called in this time period.
To save reworking contracts with the same conditions, it is possible to novate them from one company to another. Notations known are:
On occasion, an operator changed its legal name. No separate novation is necessary in this instance and contracts carry forward to the new name.
Links go to individual operator pages; each page has links to return here.