Back of Network Rail employee overseeing piling electrification works

Running the railway

Maintaining and operating our rail network 24/7 is an important part of what we do, but we also plan ahead and continually improve the way we work

We keep Britain moving. The railway brings together families and friends, and opens up communities to opportunities: jobs; clients and customers. It helps businesses and the national economy to grow – and it’s our job to look after it.

Our routes

In this section you can find out what work we’re doing near you, along with useful local contacts and information

Keeping our workforce safe

How we make sure our employees and contractors can work safely on the railway

Planning

How our long-term planning process helps us decide on the improvements and changes we make to the rail network

Looking after the railway

All about our infrastructure – and how we help get train services back on track when there are delays

A national network – with a local focus

Day-to-day operations are devolved to our eight routes across Britain. It means we’re able to make better decisions at the local level about running and improving the railway, while passengers reap the benefits of closer cooperation with local train companies.

Our ‘orange army’

This is what we call the thousands of engineers and contractors on the railway who work day and night to maintain, repair, improve and operate railway infrastructure.

Working on the tracks, signalling, bridges, tunnels, stations and level crossings, they’re equipped with a fleet of vehicles and machinery to help with the essential day-to-day work of keeping the railway running safely and smoothly.

Meeting today’s challenges and futureproofing our railway

We’re always looking ahead. Developing technology and looking to the latest industry innovations makes our work – and train journeys – safer and quicker. We’re the fastest-growing railway in Europe, as well as the safest and one of the most reliable.

Passenger numbers have doubled in the last 20 years, and this unprecedented growth is set to continue. Around 22,500 trains run every day in Britain – with nearly 1.7 billion passenger journeys each year – and another 400 million rail journeys will be made by 2020. Rail freight has increased by 70 per cent since the 1990s.

The capacity challenge

Demand on this scale means there’s no space on the busiest parts of the network at peak times, which can lead to congestion and delays.

Most of the rail network is in use around the clock, with freight trains running through the night when most passenger services have stopped.

We work with passenger and freight train companies to decide how many trains can safely run on the network, and at what times. This is published as the working timetable.