Office of Rail and Road

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Office of Rail and Road
Welsh: Swyddfa Rheoleiddio'r Rheilffyrdd
Office of Rail and Road.png
Civil Aviation Authority Head Office, London (18827487).jpg
Non-ministerial government department overview
Formed 5 July 2004
Preceding Non-ministerial government department
Jurisdiction Great Britain
Headquarters 1 Kemble Street, London, WC2B 4AN
Employees 280
Annual budget £30 million[1]
Non-ministerial government department executives
  • Stephen Glaister, Chair
  • Joanna Whittington, Chief Executive

The ORR is responsible for ensuring that railway operators in Britain comply with health and safety law. The ORR regulates Network Rail’s activities and funding requirements, regulates access to the railway network, licenses the operators of railway assets and publishes rail statistics. The ORR is the competition authority for the railways and they enforce consumer protection law in relation to the railway.

The ORR is also responsible for monitoring Highways England's management of the strategic road network – the motorways and main 'A' roads in England.

As a non-ministerial government department it is operationally independent of central government.


The ORR's main functions are:

Rail safety[edit]

The ORR regulates health and safety for the entire mainline rail network in Britain, as well as London Underground, light rail, trams and the heritage sector.

The ORR has a team of more than 100 rail health and safety inspectors and professionals who have powers of enforcement. Their remit is to ensure that the railway is safe, and is kept safe, at a reasonably practicable cost.

Network Rail[edit]

The ORR regulates Network Rail, holding it to account for delivering levels of performance and service, as well as value for money – for passengers, the freight industry and taxpayers.


The ORR regulates the High Speed 1 line between St Pancras and the Channel Tunnel. This line is operated by HS1 Ltd, and is separate to the rest of the national railway network operated by Network Rail, but the ORR regulates it in much the same way. This includes holding HS1 to account for its performance, service and value for money for passengers and the freight industry.

Fair access and fair treatment[edit]

A primary role for the ORR is to enforce consumer law and compliance with the conditions contained in Network Rail’s and train operators’ licences, to help ensure that all rail users get the service to which they are entitled.


The ORR aims to regulate such as to balance the interests of investors, customers, taxpayers and the industry. The ORR does not regulate fares.

Highways England[edit]

The ORR is responsible for monitoring and enforcing the performance and efficiency of Highways England (which was previously the Highways Agency) and is delivering this through its Highways function.

Highways England maintains, renews, operates and improves the strategic road network – the motorways and main 'A' roads in England.

The ORR holds Highways England to account for its management of the strategic road network – including delivery of performance and efficiency. They also advise the UK Government on the levels of funding and performance requirements for future road periods to help frame performance and efficiency requirements.

Statutory duties[edit]

In carrying out its railway functions, the ORR must discharge its statutory duties, which are its formal objectives. These are laid down in section 4 of the Railways Act 1993, and include the protection of the interests of users and the promotion of competition, efficiency and economy in the provision of railway services.

ORR’s duties as the Monitor for Highways England are set out in section 12 of the Infrastructure Act 2015. These require that ORR must exercise its functions in the way it considers most likely to promote the performance and efficiency of Highways England. ORR also has a role within The Railways (Access, Management and Licensing of Railway Undertakings) Regulations 2016.

Public law obligations[edit]

Like other public authorities, the ORR must comply with the rules of administrative law, and is amenable to judicial review, so it must act lawfully, rationally, proportionately and in accordance with the relevant rules of procedure. Although operationally independent of central government as a non-ministerial government department, it is still covered by legislation such as the Freedom of Information Act 2000.


All members of the ORR board are appointed by the Secretary of State for Transport for a fixed term of up to five years. The current ORR Chair is Professor Stephen Glaister CBE and the Chief Executive Officer is Joanna Whittington, both appointed in January 2016 on an interim basis. Ms Whittington was appointed substantively in February 2017.

The ORR employs approximately 280 people, with offices in London, Birmingham, Bristol, Glasgow, Manchester and York.


The ORR is the main provider of railway industry statistics in Britain.

The ORR publishes a range of statistics about railway performance, rail usage and safety – to support performance evaluation, analysis and decision-making for the railway industry. It produces usage statistics for each station.

History of ORR[edit]

The ORR was established as the Office of Rail Regulation on 5 July 2004 by the Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003, replacing the Rail Regulator. It became the Office of Rail and Road on 16 October 2015 following ORR's appointment as Monitor for Highways England under the Infrastructure Act 2015.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Who we are, Office of Rail Regulation, 28 January 2014, retrieved 11 March 2014 

External links[edit]