System Operator

The System Operator plans changes to Britain's railway system so that the needs of passengers and freight customers are balanced to support economic growth.

We enable the seamless provision of cross-boundary services and coordinating capacity requests to make the best use of the network. Our vision is to become the recognised expert trusted by decision makers to plan Britain's railway. To achieve this we provide a whole-system, long term view, using the detailed knowledge we have from capacity planning and timetabling the network.

Our work is informed by our industry-wide interfaces with every train operator, the Network Rail routes, other infrastructure managers, public and private funders, and franchising bodies.

Holding us to account

Acting on behalf of the whole network may mean taking challenging decisions in the best interests of the system even when these may be in conflict with the wishes of one of Network Rail’s routes, a funder’s aspiration, or an operator’s business proposal.

We need to be seen and trusted by all stakeholders to operate on this basis.

We aim to be open in our decision making, invite scrutiny, and advance network policies that command the confidence and support of our stakeholders. Our independent supervisory mechanisms, self-imposed transparency requirements, and governing processes are crucial elements in driving the desired behaviours internally and providing our stakeholders externally with the aspired level of comfort in the decisions being taken.

How we operate

Our operating model is based on a clear line of sight from strategic planning and the development of investment and capacity utilisation options for funders - through to the ultimate allocation of train paths in timetables.

This allows us to deliver the best overall rail outcomes for customers, funders, our industry and the wider economy.

System Operator operating model

Operating model in more detail