National Rail

From Academic Kids

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National Rail uses the BR double arrow logo

National Rail is a brand name describing the passenger rail service previously provided by British Rail, the now defunct UK state-owned rail operator. The term is usually used to distinguish these services from other rail passenger services in the UK that do not have an ex-British Rail background. This distinction is important because the National Rail services share a common ticketing structure and ticket inter-availability that does not necessarily extend to other services.


National Rail and Network Rail

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Rail Ticket from Windsor to Etltham March 22, 2005

The term National Rail should not be confused with the term Network Rail. National Rail is a brand used to explain and promote a network of railway services. Network Rail is a legal entity responsible for owning and managing the fixed assets of a network of railway lines.

In terms of geography the two networks are very similar, but not exactly the same. Some Network Rail lines carry traffic (for example Eurostar, Heathrow Express and London Underground trains) that are not part of the National Rail network. Conversely some National Rail network services operate in part over track that is not part of the Network Rail network (for example where they run on London Underground owned track).

Train operating companies

Passenger trains on the National Rail network are operated by one of 25 privately owned Train operating companies (TOCs). These are:

The Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) provides a common voice for the TOCs and continues to provide some centralised coordination, for example the provision of a national timetable and journey planner. National Rail continues to use BR's old double-arrow logo.

Other Passenger Rail Operators in the UK

British Rail's operations never stretched to Northern Ireland, which has its own rail operator in Northern Ireland Railways (NIR). As a consequence NIR is not part of the National Rail network.

Several UK cities have their own metro or tram systems, which are also not part of the National Rail network. These include the London Underground, Docklands Light Railway, Tramlink, Glasgow Subway, Tyne and Wear Metro, Manchester Metrolink, Sheffield Supertram, Midland Metro, and Nottingham Express Transit.

Two recently inaugurated railway services, Heathrow Express and Eurostar, are also not part of the National Rail network.

Finally there are a significant number of privately owned and/or heritage railways, as listed in the list of British heritage and private railways, which are not part of the National Rail network.

See Also

External links


List of train operating companies from National Rail website (, retrieved 23rd August Rail


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