List of companies operating trains in the United Kingdom
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 (TOCs), as distinct from freight operating companies.
- 1 Passenger operators in Great Britain
- 2 Passenger operators in Northern Ireland
- 3 Railtour operators
- 4 Freight operators
- 5 Franchised passenger operator structure in Great Britain
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Passenger operators in Great Britain
Current passenger operators
The following operate the National Rail network.
|Operator||Type||Franchise||Parent(s)||Passenger satisfaction||Start date||Expiry date||Replaced|
|Abellio ScotRail||Franchise||ScotRail||Abellio||87%||1 April 2015||31 March 2025||First ScotRail|
|Arriva Rail London||TfL concession||London Overground||Arriva UK Trains||—||13 November 2016||26 May 2024||London Overground Rail Operations|
|Arriva Trains Wales||Franchise||Wales & Borders||Arriva UK Trains||82%||8 December 2003||13 October 2018||Wales & Borders|
|c2c||Franchise||Essex Thameside||Trenitalia||81%||26 May 1996||10 November 2029||Network SouthEast
(London, Tilbury & Southend Division)
|Caledonian Sleeper||Franchise||Caledonian Sleeper||Serco||—||31 March 2015||31 March 2030||First ScotRail|
|Chiltern Railways||Franchise||Chiltern Railways||Arriva UK Trains||91%||21 July 1996||21 December 2021||Network SouthEast (Chiltern Division)|
|CrossCountry||Franchise||New CrossCountry||Arriva UK Trains||86%||11 November 2007||December 2019||Central Trains (Birmingham – Stansted & Cardiff – Nottingham route)
|East Midlands Trains||Franchise||East Midlands||Stagecoach||86%||11 November 2007||August 2019||Central Trains (Liverpool – Norwich & East Midlands routes)
|Eurostar||Open access||—||Eurostar International Limited||—||14 November 1994||—|
|Grand Central||Open access||—||Arriva UK Trains||96%||18 December 2007||December 2026|
|Greater Anglia||Franchise||East Anglia||Abellio (60%)
|77%||16 October 2016||October 2025||National Express East Anglia|
|Great Western Railway||Franchise||Greater Western||FirstGroup||84%||1 April 2006||April 2020||First Great Western
First Great Western Link
|Heathrow Connect||Open access||—||Heathrow Airport Holdings
|83%||12 June 2005||May 2018|
|Heathrow Express||Open access||—||Heathrow Airport Holdings||91%||23 June 1998||—|
|Hull Trains||Open access||—||FirstGroup||94%||25 September 2002||December 2029|
|Merseyrail||Merseytravel contract||Merseyrail||Serco-Abellio||90%||20 July 2003||19 July 2028||Arriva Trains Merseyside|
|Northern||Franchise||Northern||Arriva UK Trains||82%||1 April 2016||31 March 2025||Northern Rail|
|Southeastern||Franchise||Integrated Kent||Govia||69%||1 April 2006||December 2018||South Eastern Trains|
|Southern / Thameslink and Great Northern||Franchise||Thameslink, Southern & Great Northern||Govia||69%||14 September 2014||September 2021||First Capital Connect, Southern|
|South Western Railway||Franchise||South Western||FirstGroup (70%)
MTR Corporation (30%)
|—||20 August 2017||18 August 2024||South West Trains|
|TfL Rail||TfL concession||Crossrail||MTR Corporation||79%||31 May 2015||30 May 2023||Greater Anglia (Liverpool Street – Shenfield)|
|TransPennine Express||Franchise||TransPennine Express||FirstGroup||87%||1 April 2016||31 March 2023||First TransPennine Express|
|Virgin Trains East Coast||Franchise||InterCity East Coast||Stagecoach (90%)
Virgin Group (10%)
|88%||1 March 2015||31 March 2020
(originally 31 March 2023)
|Virgin Trains West Coast||Franchise||InterCity West Coast||Virgin Rail Group||92%||9 March 1997||April 2019||InterCity (West Coast Division)|
|West Midlands Trains||Franchise||West Midlands||Abellio (70%)
JR East (15%)
|10 December 2017||April 2026||London Midland|
There are also a number of light rail systems.
Defunct operating companies
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|
|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||First TransPennine Express
|Central Trains||Franchise||Central||National Express||2 March 1997||11 November 2007||CrossCountry
East Midlands Trains
|Connex South Central||Franchise||Network SouthCentral||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|
|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||Arriva Trains Wales
First TransPennine Express
|First ScotRail||Franchise||Scotrail||FirstGroup||17 October 2004||31 March 2015||Abellio ScotRail|
|First TransPennine Express||Franchise||TransPennine Express||FirstGroup (55%)
|1 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|
|London Midland||Franchise||West Midlands||Govia||11 November 2007||9 December 2017||West Midlands Trains|
|London Overground Rail Operations||TfL concession||London Overground||Arriva UK Trains (50%)
MTR Corporation (50%)
|11 November 2007||12 November 2016||Arriva Rail London|
|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||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|
|Silverlink||Franchise||North London Railways||National Express||2 March 1997||11 November 2007||London Midland
London Overground Rail Operations
|South Eastern Trains||Franchise||South Eastern||Strategic Rail Authority||9 November 2003||31 March 2006||Southeastern|
|South West Trains||Franchise||South West||Stagecoach||4 February 2007||19 August 2017||South Western Railway|
|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 Rail Group||5 January 1997||11 November 2007||CrossCountry
First TransPennine Express
Virgin Trains West Coast
|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|
|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||National Express||13 October 1996||13 October 2001||Wales & Borders
|Wessex Trains||Franchise||Wessex||National Express||14 October 2001||31 March 2006||First Great Western|
|Wrexham & Shropshire||Open access||Wrexham to London||DB Regio||28 April 2008||28 January 2011||Ceased due to lack of profitability|
- Crossrail, a concession for the cross-London Maidenhead/Heathrow to Shenfield/Abbey Wood line. It has already taken control of its first services between Liverpool Street and Shenfield in May 2015 with the full franchise operating from 2018.
- Renaissance Trains, former shareholder in Wrexham & Shropshire, has proposed Glasgow Trains from Glasgow to Blackpool, Liverpool and Nottingham.
- Alliance Rail Holdings's Great North Western Railway had approval to operate services between Blackpool to Queen's Park. However this expired after the deadline to procure rolling stock was missed. Alliance intend on reapplying to operate the services.
- East Coast Trains from London King's Cross to Edinburgh Waverley via Stevenage, Newcastle and Morpeth. Operations will commence in May 2021.
Passenger operators in Northern Ireland
- Northern Ireland Railways
- Iarnród Éireann (One early morning commuter service from Newry to Dublin every weekday)
- Compass Tours
- DPS Railtours
- Pathfinder Tours
- Railway Touring Company
- Scottish Railway Preservation Society
- Statesman Rail
- Venice-Simplon Orient Express (British Pullman and Northern Belle services)
- Vintage Trains
In Northern Ireland
- Enthusiast Railtours
- Railway Preservation Society of Ireland
- Irish Railway Record Society
- The Modern Railway Society of Ireland
- Luxury Railtours
- Belmond Grand Hibernian (From August 2016)
- Steam Dreams (Emerald Isle Explorer)
- Colas Rail
- Devon & Cornwall Railways
- Direct Rail Services
- DB Cargo UK (formerly English Welsh & Scottish Railway)
- GB Railfreight
- Mendip Rail
Franchised passenger operator structure in Great Britain
- Passenger rail franchising in Great Britain (for detailed information about the history of each franchise)
- National Passenger Survey Spring 2016 Main Report
- Arriva wins £1.5bn London Overground contract BBC News 18 March 2016
- Transport for London announces intention to award London Overground contract to Arriva Arriva 18 March 2016
- TfL confirm London Overground contract with Arriva signed Railway Technology Magazine 18 April 2016
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 24 January 2012. Retrieved 25 December 2011.
- "Rail franchise schedule" (PDF). Department of Transport. 19 July 2017. Retrieved 23 August 2017.
- In May 2010 Grand Northern services began, branded Grand Central to allow a single fleet pool to be used.
- "10-year contract extension". grandcentralrail.com.
- "Railway plan puts new focus on passengers". Department for Transport. 26 March 2013.
- "Heathrow Airport". Crossrail. Retrieved 30 November 2016.
- £60m Hull Trains electro-diesel train deal signed Railway Gazette International 2 November 2016
-  Department for Transport 9 December 2015
- Elder, Bryce (29 November 2017). "Stagecoach soars after government intervenes on contract". Financial Times. Retrieved 2 December 2017.
- Topham, Gwyn (29 November 2017). "East Coast rail 'bailout' could cost taxpayers hundreds of millions". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 December 2017.
- "Media Centre". virgintrainseastcoast.com.
- "Rail franchise schedule" (PDF).
- Transport for London. "Media". tfl.gov.uk.
- "London Reconnections: TfL Board Meeting Summary: DLR, Overground and Other Ways of Travelling". londonreconnections.blogspot.com.
- "Glasgow Trains". Renaissance Trains. Retrieved 5 December 2016.
- "04/05/12 – Alliance Rail Press Release". Alliance Rail Holdings. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
- Alliance drops Pendolino plan as Southampton paths identified Railway Gazette International 19 July 2017
- Applications for the East Coast Main Line Office of Rail and Road 12 May 2016
- First Group to run Edinburgh to London budget rail service BBC News 12 May 2016
- VTEC and FirstGroup granted East Coast Main Line paths Railway Gazette International 12 May 2016