UK National Rail Contracts and Public Sector Services Contracts

A (hopefully) comprehensive listing

Last update 8 May 2024

Additional information is always gratefully received, whether entirely new records (particularly historical records) or information to fill in gaps or correct errors, via the contact link under the Miscellaneous entry in the navigation bar above. Thank you.

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National Rail Contracts (NRCs) took over from the previous franchising system from 2021. Public Sector Service Contracts apply to 'nationalised' TOCs, starting with LNER in 2018. This page aims to bring together all such contract awards.

Terms used

Contract Name given by contracting authority at time of letting. All are NRCs except those marked otherwise; a diamond (♦) denotes a Public Sector Service Contract or equivalent for the government area. Titles in bold, thus, are current and those with a strike through, thus, are no longer valid.
Preceded by Links to preceding contract(s) to simplify tracing operator history.
Dates The dates for which the particular contract ran. Entries are listed in order of start date. Note that most, but by no means all, contracts ran from/to 02:00/01:59 respectively to suit the railway traffic day. This listing treats the transition time as midnight of the calendar day. A club (♣) indicates a Temporary Measures Agreement, introduced by the Scottish government from 1 April 2022.
Trading as Public face of a contractor or marketing title.
GB timetable code Code used to distinguish the franchise's services in the GB Passenger Railway/National Rail timetable. For those codes that do not normally appear in this timetable, marked with a dagger (†), the code that is (or has been) used in other systems (e.g. Realtime Trains or similar that receive official feeds).
Run by The 'front end' limited company (legal entity) running the contract.
Superseded by Links to successor contract(s) to simplify tracing operator development.
Notes Any other useful or interesting information.

Contractors

Contract InterCity East Coast
Preceded by East Coast Main Line Company Ltd
Dates 24 June 2018 to 27 June 2020 (original contract) 28 June 2020 to 21 June 2025 (contract extension) (originally to 24 June 2023, two year extension option taken by DfT) 22 June 2025 to 19 June 2027 (with options to 15 June 2030 at DfT discretion) (contract extension) (planned)
Trading as LNER
GB timetable code GR HB (used in 9 December 2018 timetable in operator page; table column headings retained GR)
Run by London North Eastern Railway Ltd [DfT OLR Holdings]DfT OLR Holdings is an operator of last resort reporting to the Secretary of State for Transport
Notes Operator of last resort between taking over from previous incumbent and possibly reletting contract
Contract Northern
Preceded by Arriva Rail North Ltd
Dates 1 March 2020 to 15 May 2021 (original contract: Barton-on-Humber service) 1 March 2020 to 28 February 2022 (original contract: remaining services) 1 March 2022 to 28 February 2027 (contract extension)
Trading as Northern
GB timetable code NT ZZ (used in error in May 2021 timetable for one train shown on tables 39 and 41)
Run by Northern Trains Ltd [DfT OLR Holdings]DfT OLR Holdings is an operator of last resort reporting to the Secretary of State for Transport
Superseded by Abellio East Midlands Ltd (Barton-on-Humber service) remaining contract still current
Notes Operator of last resort between taking over from previous incumbent and possibly reletting contract, expected to be no earlier than 2026
Franchise Cross Country contract describes 2020-2023 award as a franchise
Preceded by XC Trains Ltd
Dates 18 October 2020 to 14 October 2023 15 October 2023 to 16 October 2027 (can be extended to 11 October 2031 at DfT discretion)
Trading as CrossCountry
GB timetable code XC
Run by XC Trains Ltd [Arriva]Arriva is a subsidiary of DB (Deutsche Bahn, the German state railway)
Contract Wales & Borders
Preceded by Keolis Amey Operations/Gweithrediadau Keolis Amey Ltd
Dates 7 February 2021 to 6 February 2026 (original agreement; extensions likely)
Trading as Transport for Wales Rail Services
GB timetable code AW
Run by Transport for Wales Rail LtdTransport for Wales Rail is an operator of last resort ultimately reporting to the Welsh Ministers
Notes Operator of last resort between taking over from previous incumbent and possibly reletting contract
Contract South West
Preceded by First MTR South Western Trains Ltd
Dates 30 May 2021 to 24 May 2025 (originally to 27 May 2023, two year extension option taken by DfT) 25 May 2025 to 20 May 2028 (with options to 14 May 2033 at DfT discretion) (contract extension) (planned)
Trading as South Western Railway
GB timetable code SW IL (Island Line-branded services)
Run by First MTR South Western Trains Ltd [First/MTR Corporation]MTR Corporation runs Hong Kong's Mass Transit Railway amongst other activities
Contract TransPennine Express
Preceded by First Transpennine Express Ltd
Dates 30 May 2021 to 27 May 2023 (transition contract; four year extension option not taken)
Trading as TransPennine Express
GB timetable code TP
Run by First Transpennine Express Ltd
Superseded by Transpennine Trains Ltd
Contract Essex Thameside Railway
Preceded by Trenitalia c2c Ltd
Dates 25 July 2021 to 19 July 2025 (originally to 23 July 2023, two year extension option taken by DfT) 20 July 2025 to 16 July 2028 (with options to 9 July 2033 at DfT discretion) (contract extension) (planned)
Trading as c2c
GB timetable code CC
Run by TrenitaliaTrenitalia is a subsidiary of FS (Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane, the Italian state railway) c2c Ltd
Contract East Anglia
Preceded by Abellio East Anglia Ltd
Dates 19 September 2021 to 14 September 2024 (can be extended to 19 September 2026 at DfT discretion)
Trading as Greater Anglia
GB timetable code LE SX (Stansted Express-branded services)
Run by Abellio East Anglia LtdAbellio is ultimately part of NS (Nederlandse Spoorwegen, the Dutch state railway) [taken over by Transport UK Group Ltd 28 February 2023] (to 1 April 2024) Transport UK East Anglia Ltd (from 2 April 2024)
Notes Expected to relinquish Stratford-Meridian Water service to Arriva Rail London
Contract West Midlands
Preceded by West Midlands Trains Ltd
Dates 19 September 2021 to 14 September 2024 (can be extended to 19 September 2026 at DfT discretion)
Trading as West Midlands Railway [Birmingham area services] London Northwestern Railway [West Coast Main Line services]
GB timetable code LM (Network Rail and internal system use and ATOC use for station operation and timetable search) LN (ATOC use only for train operator list; London Northwestern Railway-branded services) WM (ATOC use only for train operator list; West Midlands Railway-branded services)
Run by West Midlands Trains Ltd [AbellioAbellio is ultimately part of NS (Nederlandse Spoorwegen, the Dutch state railway) [taken over by Transport UK Group Ltd 28 February 2023]/East Japan Railway Company/Mitsui & Co]
Contract South Eastern
Preceded by London & South Eastern Railway Ltd
Dates 17 October 2021 to 12 October 2024 (can be extended to 16 October 2027 at DfT discretion)
Trading as Southeastern
GB timetable code SE
Run by SE Trains Ltd [DfT OLR Holdings]DfT OLR Holdings is an operator of last resort reporting to the Secretary of State for Transport
Notes Operator of last resort between taking over from previous incumbent and possibly reletting contract
Contract Chiltern
Preceded by The Chiltern Railway Company Ltd
Dates 31 December 2021 to 31 March 2025 (can be extended to 11 December 2027 at DfT discretion)
Trading as Chiltern Railways
GB timetable code CH
Run by The Chiltern Railway Company Ltd [M40 Trains]M40 Trains is a subsidiary of Arriva
Contract ScotRail
Preceded by Abellio ScotRail Ltd
Dates 1 April 2022 to 31 March 2025 (with options for up to ten years total)
Trading as ScotRail
GB timetable code SR QC (used in some internal systems for shipping services only)
Run by ScotRail Trains Ltd [Scottish Rail Holdings]Scottish Rail Holdings is an operator of last resort reporting to the Scottish Ministers
Notes Operator of last resort between taking over from previous incumbent and possibly reletting contract
Contract Caledonian Sleeper
Preceded by Serco Caledonian Sleepers Ltd
Dates 1 April 2022 to 24 June 2023
Trading as Caledonian Sleeper
GB timetable code CS
Run by Serco Caledonian Sleepers Ltd
Superseded by Caledonian Sleeper Ltd
Contract Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern
Preceded by Govia Thameslink Railway Ltd
Dates 1 April 2022 to 31 March 2025 (can be extended to 31 March 2028 at DfT discretion)
Trading as Gatwick Express Great Northern Southern Thameslink; ThamesLink/
GB timetable code GN (Great Northern-branded services) GX (Gatwick Express-branded services) SN (Southern-branded services) TL (Thameslink-branded services)
Run by Govia Thameslink Railway LtdGovia is a partnership between Go-Ahead and VIA GTI (later known as Keolis), the latter predominantly owned by SNCF (Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer, the French state railway)
Contract Great Western
Preceded by First Greater Western Ltd
Dates 26 June 2022 to 21 June 2025 (can be extended to 24 June 2028 at DfT discretion)
Trading as Great Western Railway
GB timetable code GW
Run by First Greater Western Ltd
Contract East Midlands
Preceded by East Midlands Trains Ltd
Dates 16 October 2022 to 17 October 2026 (can be extended to 12 October 2030 at DfT discretion)
Trading as East Midlands Railway
GB timetable code EM
Run by Abellio East Midlands LtdAbellio is ultimately part of NS (Nederlandse Spoorwegen, the Dutch state railway) [taken over by Transport UK Group Ltd 28 February 2023] (to 2 April 2024) Transport UK East Midlands Ltd (from 3 April 2024)
Contract West Coast Partnership
Preceded by First Trenitalia West Coast Rail Ltd
Dates 15 October 2023 to 18 October 2026 (can be extended to 17 October 2032 at DfT discretion)
Trading as Avanti West Coast
GB timetable code VT
Run by First TrenitaliaTrenitalia is a subsidiary of FS (Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane, the Italian state railway) West Coast Rail Ltd
Contract TransPennine Express
Preceded by First Transpennine Express Ltd
Dates 28 May 2023 to 24 May 2025 (options to 29 May 2027 at DfT discretion)
Trading as TransPennine Express
GB timetable code TP
Run by Transpennine Trains Ltd [DfT OLR Holdings]DfT OLR Holdings is an operator of last resort reporting to the Secretary of State for Transport
Notes Operator of last resort between taking over from previous incumbent and possibly reletting contract
Contract Caledonian Sleeper
Preceded by Serco Caledonian Sleepers Ltd
Dates 25 June 2023 to date
Trading as Caledonian Sleeper
GB timetable code CS
Run by Caledonian Sleeper Ltd [Scottish Rail Holdings]Scottish Rail Holdings is an operator of last resort reporting to the Scottish Ministers
Notes Operator of last resort between taking over from previous incumbent and possibly reletting contract
Contract Sheffield Supertram
Preceded by South Yorkshire Supertram Ltd
Dates 22 March 2024 to date (expected to run until at least 2029; Network Rail track access contract runs to 1 April 2028)
Trading as Supertram
GB timetable code SJ
Run by South Yorkshire Future Trams Ltd [South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority]
Notes Not a 'national' operator nor franchise, but does access national network around Tinsley/Rotherham See the light rail page for full details
Contract Crossrail
Preceded by MTR Corporation (Crossrail) Ltd
Dates 25 May 2025 to May 2032 (contract will be 7 years with options for extensions up to 2 years 7 months at TfL discretion)
Trading as Elizabeth Line
GB timetable code XR
Run by contract not yet awarded

Timetable change dates appear on this Rail Chronology page.