List of companies operating trains in the United Kingdom

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This article only covers companies operating trains on Network Rail lines. For other companies, see List of British heritage and private railways.

There are many companies operating trains in the United Kingdom, including the 23 operators of franchised passenger services, officially referred to as "train operating companies" or TOCs, as distinct from "freight operating companies".

Passenger operators in Great Britain[edit]

Franchised passenger operator structure in Great Britain[edit]

Sector of British Rail Franchise Pre-grouping Company Original privatised operator Current operator(s)
InterCity InterCity East Coast Great Northern Railway Great North Eastern Railway Virgin Trains East Coast
InterCity West Coast London & North Western Railway Virgin West Coast Virgin Trains
Great Eastern Great Eastern Railway Anglia Railways Abellio Greater Anglia
Great Western Great Western Railway Great Western Trains Great Western Railway
Midland Midland Railway Midland Mainline East Midlands Trains
CrossCountry N/A Virgin CrossCountry CrossCountry
Network SouthEast Essex Thameside London, Tilbury & Southend Railway LTS Rail c2c
Chiltern Great Central Railway Chiltern Railways Chiltern Railways
Gatwick Express N/A Gatwick Express Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern
Great Eastern Great Eastern Railway First Great Eastern Abellio Greater Anglia and TfL Rail
Thames Great Western Railway Thames Trains Great Western Railway
Island Line Isle of Wight Railway Island Line Trains South West Trains
North London North London Railway Silverlink London Midland
London Overground Rail Operations
South Eastern South Eastern & Chatham Railway Connex South Eastern Southeastern
South Central London, Brighton & South Coast Railway Connex South Central Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern
South Western London & South Western Railway South West Trains South West Trains
Thameslink N/A Thameslink Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern
West Anglia Great Northern West Anglia Great Northern Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern (services to King's Cross & Moorgate)
Abellio Greater Anglia and London Overground (services to Liverpool Street)
Regional Railways North West Predominantly London & North Western Railway North Western Trains Arriva Trains Wales
TransPennine Express
North East Northern Spirit
Scotland Caledonian Railway, Glasgow and South Western Railway, Great North of Scotland Railway, Highland Railway & North British Railway ScotRail Abellio ScotRail
South Wales & West Cambrian Railways, Great Western Railway Wales & West Arriva Trains Wales

Great Western Railway

Valley Lines Barry Railway, Cardiff Railway, Great Western Railway, Rhymney Railway, Taff Vale Railway Valley Lines Arriva Trains Wales
Merseyrail Electrics N/A Merseyrail Electrics Merseyrail
Central Central Trains CrossCountry
London Midland
East Midlands Trains

Current passenger operators[edit]

The following operate the National Rail network.

Operator Type Franchise Parent(s) Passenger satisfaction[1] Start date Expiry date Replaced
Abellio Greater Anglia Franchise Greater Anglia Abellio 79% 5 February 2012[2] 15 October 2016[3] National Express East Anglia
Abellio ScotRail Franchise ScotRail Abellio 86% 1 April 2015 31 March 2025 First ScotRail
Arriva Trains Wales Franchise Wales & Borders Arriva UK Trains 87% 8 December 2003 13 October 2018[4] Wales & Borders
c2c Franchise Essex Thameside National Express 91% 26 May 1996 10 November 2029 Network SouthEast
(London, Tilbury and Southend Division)
Caledonian Sleeper Franchise Caledonian Sleeper Serco 31 March 2015 31 March 2030 First ScotRail
Chiltern Railways Franchise Chiltern Railways Arriva UK Trains 90% 21 July 1996 21 December 2021[4] Network SouthEast (Chiltern Division)
CrossCountry Franchise New CrossCountry Arriva UK Trains 84% 11 November 2007 9 November 2019[3] Central Trains (Birmingham – Stansted & Cardiff – Nottingham route) &
Virgin Trains (CrossCountry franchise)
East Midlands Trains Franchise East Midlands Stagecoach 88% 11 November 2007 4 March 2018[5] Central Trains (Liverpool – Norwich & East Midlands routes) & Midland Mainline
Eurostar Open access N/A Eurostar International Limited, SNCF & NMBS/SNCB 14 November 1994 N/A
First Hull Trains Open access N/A FirstGroup 93% 25 September 2002 December 2019
TransPennine Express Franchise TransPennine Express FirstGroup 83% 1 April 2016 31 March 2023 First TransPennine Express
Grand Central[6] Open access N/A Arriva UK Trains 95% 18 December 2007 December 2026[7]
Great Western Railway Franchise Greater Western FirstGroup 82% 1 April 2006 30 March 2019[8] First Great Western, First Great Western Link, Wessex Trains
Heathrow Connect Open access N/A Heathrow Airport Holdings
92% 12 June 2005
Heathrow Express Open access N/A Heathrow Airport Holdings 93% 23 June 1998
London Midland Franchise West Midlands Govia 86% 11 November 2007 31 October 2017[9] Central Trains (Birmingham routes) & Silverlink (Northampton Line)
London Overground TfL concession London Overground MTR Corporation
Arriva UK Trains
85% 11 November 2007 12 November 2016[10] Silverlink (North London Lines) & Abellio Greater Anglia (Liverpool Street-Enfield Town/Chingford/Cheshunt via Seven Sisters and Romford-Upminster )
Merseyrail Merseytravel contract Merseyrail Serco-Abellio 93% 20 July 2003 19 July 2028[4] Arriva Trains Merseyside
Northern Franchise Northern Arriva UK Trains N/A 1 April 2016 31 March 2025[3] Northern Rail
North Yorkshire Moors Railway Open access N/A Yorkshire Moors Railway Enterprises April 2007 (additional GrosmontWhitby services)
Pre Metro Operations Open access N/A Parry People Movers N/A June 2009
Southeastern Franchise Integrated Kent Govia 80% 1 April 2006 24 June 2018[3] South Eastern Trains
Southern / Thameslink and Great Northern Franchise Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern Govia 48% 14 September 2014 September 2021

First Capital Connect, Southern

South West Trains Franchise South Western Stagecoach 87% 4 February 2007 February 2017[3] South West Trains & Island Line
TfL Rail TfL concession Crossrail MTR Corporation N/A 31 May 2015 30 May 2023 Abellio Greater Anglia (Liverpool Street – Shenfield)
Virgin Trains West Coast Franchise InterCity West Coast Virgin Group & Stagecoach 90% 9 March 1997 31 March 2018[3] InterCity (West Coast Division)
Virgin Trains East Coast Franchise InterCity East Coast Virgin Group & Stagecoach N/A 1 March 2015 31 March 2023[11] East Coast
West Coast Railways Open access N/A 1998 N/A (Fort WilliamMallaig summer "Jacobite" services and charter operations)

There are also a number of heritage railways and light rail systems.

Defunct operating companies[edit]

Operating companies have ceased to exist for various reasons, including withdrawal of the franchise, the term of the franchise has expired, bankruptcy or merger.

Operator Type Franchise Parent(s) Date started Date ceased Replaced by
Anglia Railways Franchise Anglia GB Railways 5 January 1997 31 March 2004 one (National Express East Anglia)
Arriva Trains
Franchise Merseytravel contract Arriva UK Trains February 2000 20 July 2003 Merseyrail
Arriva Trains Northern Franchise Regional Railways North East Arriva UK Trains February 2000 12 December 2004 Northern Rail & First TransPennine Express
Central Trains Franchise Central National Express 2 March 1997 11 November 2007 CrossCountry, East Midlands Trains & London Midland
Connex South Central Franchise South Central Connex 13 October 1996 16 June 2001 Southern
Connex South Eastern Franchise South Eastern Connex 26 May 1996 9 November 2003 South Eastern Trains
East Coast Franchise InterCity East Coast Directly Operated Railways 14 November 2009 28 February 2015 Virgin Trains East Coast
First Capital Connect Franchise Thameslink Great Northern FirstGroup 1 April 2006 13 September 2014 Thameslink and Great Northern
First Great Eastern Franchise Great Eastern FirstGroup 5 January 1997 31 March 2004 one (National Express East Anglia)
First Great
Western Link
Franchise Thames FirstGroup 1 April 2004 31 March 2006 First Great Western
First North Western Franchise North West Regional Railways FirstGroup 2 March 1997 12 December 2004 Northern Rail, First TransPennine Express & Arriva Trains Wales
First ScotRail Franchise Scotrail FirstGroup 17 October 2004 31 March 2015 Abellio ScotRail
First TransPennine Express Franchise TransPennine Express FirstGroup 01 February 2004 31 March 2016 TransPennine Express
Gatwick Express Franchise Gatwick Express National Express 28 April 1996 22 June 2008 Southern
Great North Eastern Railway Franchise InterCity East Coast Sea Containers 28 April 1996 8 December 2007 National Express East Coast
Great Western Trains Franchise Great Western Great Western Holdings 4 February 1996 March 1998 First Great Western
Island Line Franchise Island Line Stagecoach 13 October 1996 3 February 2007 South West Trains
Merseyrail Electrics Merseytravel contract Merseyrail MTL 19 January 1997 February 2000 Arriva Trains Merseyside
Midland Mainline Franchise Midland Main Line National Express 28 February 1996 11 November 2007 East Midlands Trains
National Express East Anglia Franchise Greater Anglia National Express 1 April 2004 5 February 2012 Abellio Greater Anglia
National Express East Coast Franchise InterCity East Coast National Express 9 December 2007 13 November 2009 East Coast
Northern Rail Franchise Northern Serco-Abellio 12 December 2004 31 March 2016 Northern
Northern Spirit Franchise Regional Railways North East MTL 2 March 1997 February 2000 Arriva Trains Northern
North Western Trains Franchise North West Regional Railways Great Western Holdings 2 March 1997 March 1998 First North Western
ScotRail Franchise ScotRail National Express 31 March 1997 17 October 2004 First ScotRail
South Eastern Trains Franchise South Eastern Strategic Rail Authority 9 November 2003 31 March 2006 Southeastern
Silverlink (previously North
London Railways)
Franchise North London Railways National Express 2 March 1997 11 November 2007 London Midland & London Overground
Southern Franchise South Central Govia 26 August 2001 25 July 2015 Connex South Central
Thames Trains Franchise Thames Go-Ahead Group 13 October 1996 31 March 2004 First Great Western Link
Thameslink Franchise Thameslink Govia 2 March 1997 31 March 2006 First Capital Connect
Valley Lines Franchise Valley Lines National Express 13 October 1996 13 October 2001 Wales & Borders
Virgin CrossCountry Franchise CrossCountry Virgin Group
5 January 1997 11 November 2007 CrossCountry, Virgin Trains (West Coast) & First TransPennine Express
West Anglia Great Northern
(West Anglia Main Line and Lea Valley Lines)
Franchise West Anglia Great Northern National Express 5 January 1997 31 March 2004 one (National Express East Anglia)
West Anglia Great Northern
(Great Northern and Fenline routes)
Franchise West Anglia Great Northern National Express 5 January 1997 31 March 2006 First Capital Connect
Wales & Borders Franchise Wales & Borders National Express 14 October 2001 7 December 2003 Arriva Trains Wales
Wales & West Franchise Wales & West Prism Rail 13 October 1996 13 October 2001 Wales & Borders & Wessex Trains
Wessex Trains Franchise Wessex National Express 14 October 2001 31 March 2006 First Great Western
Wrexham & Shropshire Open access Wrexham to London DB Regio
Renaissance Trains
28 April 2008 28 January 2011 Closed due to lack of profitability

Future operators[edit]

Passenger operators in Northern Ireland[edit]

In Northern Ireland passenger trains are government-owned by Translink. The following brands are used:

Railtour operators[edit]

In Northern Ireland

  • Enthusiast Railtours
  • Luxury Railtours
    • Belmond Grand Hibernian (From August 2016)
    • Steam Dreams (Emerald Isle Explorer)

Freight operators[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ National Passenger Survey Autumn 2010 Main Report
  2. ^ "Pre-Qualification Process Document – Greater Anglia Franchise" (PDF). BBC News. 11 January 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-24. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f "DfT Rail franchise schedule" (PDF). Department for Transport. 26 March 2013. Retrieved 26 March 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c [1]
  5. ^ DVV Media UK. "New East Midlands direct award franchise agreed". Railway Gazette. 
  6. ^ In May 2010 Grand Northern services began, branded Grand Central to allow a single fleet pool to be used.
  7. ^ "10 year contract extension". 
  8. ^ DVV Media UK. "Five-year direct award Great Western franchise proposed". Railway Gazette. 
  9. ^ "London Midland wins franchise extension". Railnews. 3 December 2015. Retrieved 13 December 2015. 
  10. ^ Transport for London, Windsor House, 42-50 Victoria Street, London SW1H 0TL, "Media". 
  11. ^ "Media Centre". 
  12. ^ "London Reconnections: TfL Board Meeting Summary: DLR, Overground and Other Ways of Travelling". 
  13. ^ "Glasgow Trains". Renaissance Trains. Retrieved 15 August 2012. 
  14. ^ "Humber Coast and City Railway". Renaissance Trains. Retrieved 15 August 2012. 
  15. ^ "04/05/12 – Alliance Rail Press Release". Alliance Rail Holdings. Retrieved 11 August 2015. 
  16. ^ "GOCO Train". GOCO. Retrieved 2011-11-25. 
  17. ^ Applications for the East Coast Main Line Office of Rail and Road 12 May 2016
  18. ^ First Group to run Edinburgh to London budget rail service BBC News 12 May 2016
  19. ^ VTEC and FirstGroup granted East Coast Main Line paths Railway Gazette International 12 May 2016
  20. ^ Arriva wins £1.5bn London Overground contract BBC News 18 March 2016
  21. ^ Transport for London announces intention to award London Overground contract to Arriva Arriva 18 March 2016
  22. ^ TfL confirm London Overground contract with Arriva signed Railway Technology Magazine 18 April 2016