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Rail interoperability and standards

Rail interoperability and standards documentation and information.

Interoperability is a European initiative enabling the railway to compete more effectively with other forms of transport. It reduces costs plus provides safe and uninterrupted movement of trains across Europe by establishing common standards and assessment processes.

For updates and news subscribe to interoperability@dft.gov.uk.

Scope of rail interoperability regulations

Interoperability in the UK is set by the Railways (Interoperability) Regulations 2011, including 2013, 2014 and 2015 amendments.

The scope of rail interoperability and the list of list of exclusions explains which vehicles, infrastructure and parts of the rail network are:

  • covered by the regulations
  • exempted from the regulations

Help notes

Our ‘Help notes’ offer guidance on deciding whether a project is scope of the interoperability regulations. They provide advice on the authorisation process and guidance on obtaining a derogation from the regulations.

Compliance with interoperabilty standards

Project caught by interoperability regulations must be assessed for compliance with :

  1. relevant EU technical specifications for interoperability (TSIs) for rail vehicles, infrastructure and components
  2. UK notified national technical rules (NNTRs)

TSI and NNTR assessment is completed by our notified and designated bodies.

If unable to meet all or part of the standards a rail project entity may apply for:

  • an exemption from the standards
  • a decision about whether an authorisation is required for upgrade and renewal work

Authorised rail vehicles are listed on the Network Rail website.

UK interoperability implementation plans

These are the UK’s current implementation plans for meeting EU rules for rail interoperability nationally.

Review of interoperability regulations

In 2016 the rail interoperability regulations were analysed for:

  • costs
  • benefits
  • achievement of goals
Published 6 September 2013
Last updated 11 January 2018 + show all updates
  1. Multiple decision letters from 2017 added.
  2. New decision letters published.
  3. New decision letters published.
  4. Post implementation review of the Railways (Interoperability) Regulations 2011.
  5. Decision letters on upgrade of signalling systems in the Heathrow Tunnel and onboard signalling system for new Siemens class 700 trains.
  6. NNTR, TSI catalogue, scope and interdependencies updated.
  7. Implementation plan for energy TSI, letters on the telematics applications for passengers and freight implementation plan and an update to the notified national technical rules published.
  8. New decision letters published.
  9. First published.