Rail interoperability and standards

Rail interoperability and standards documentation and information.

The Department for Transport (DfT) works with the railway industry to ensure the rail network is safe, efficient and sustainable. Interoperability is a European initiative enabling the railway to compete more effectively with other forms of transport, particularly road transport. It can contribute to reducing costs and provide safe and uninterrupted movement of trains across Europe. It does this through establishing common checking and authorisation processes.

For updates and more information about interoperability and safety, DfT operates an email news flash service. To subscribe, please email adding “News Flash” in the subject area.

Scope of rail interoperability

DfT’s ‘Scope of rail interoperability’ guidelines outline the scope and applicability of the interoperability regime in the UK under the Railways (Interoperability) Regulations 2011, as amended by the Railways (Interoperability) (Amendment) Regulations 2013.

Our ‘Approved list of exclusions from the scope of the Railways (Interoperability) Regulations 2011’ features information on railway networks, lines and vehicles specifically excluded from the interoperability regulations.

  1. Scope of rail interoperability

    • Guidance
  2. Exclusions from the Railways (Interoperability) Regulations 2011

    • Guidance

Help notes

Our ‘Help notes’ offer guidance on deciding whether a project is covered by the interoperability regulations. They provide advice about obtaining an authorisation or a derogation under the regulations.

  1. Help notes for the Railways (Interoperability) Regulations 2011

    • Guidance

Decision letters

Under the Railways (Interoperability) Regulations 2011, a project entity may apply to the competent authority for a decision about:

  • a derogation from a standard
  • whether an authorisation is required for upgrade and renewal work

The following decision letters have been issued to rail projects.

  1. KVB signalling at Ashford International Station: decision letter

    • Decision
  2. HS1 and GSM-R voice phase 1 project: decision letter

    • Decision
  3. Network Rail switch and crossing panel vehicles: decision letter

    • Decision
  4. Class B rail resignalling projects: decision letter

    • Decision
  5. Class 317 modification: decision letter

    • Decision
  6. Borders rail link project: decision letter

    • Decision
  7. North west electrification: decision letter

    • Decision
  8. Syston Junction to Peterborough and Newport to Shrewsbury: decision letter

    • Decision
  9. Class 320 rail fleet modification: decision letter

    • Decision
  10. Crossrail central section: decision letter

    • Decision
  11. Network radio system: decision letter

    • Decision
  12. Crossrail core section: decision letter

    • Decision
  13. GSM-R rail radio system: decision letter

    • Decision
  14. RETB rail signalling frequency change: decision letter

    • Decision

Technical specifications for interoperability (TSIs)

The following pages include information about technical specifications for interoperability (TSIs). These are common, harmonised standards agreed with Europe, defining how components must be built, and compliance assessed and verified, to ensure the interoperability of the rail system. New or upgraded projects in the UK are required to comply with the relevant TSIs.

  1. Rail technical specifications for interoperability

    • Guidance
  2. Rail interoperability TSI catalogue

    • Guidance

Common technical standards: notified national technical rules (NNTRs)

NNTRs can perform a number of functions, such as:

  • making a provision to deal with specific cases for particular circumstances prevailing in a member state
  • filling in where gaps have been identified in TSIs
  • setting requirements to maintain technical compatibility with existing assets that do not conform to the requirements of TSIs

They are notified to the European Commission by each EU member state and the Department for Transport has responsibility for notifying rules for the United Kingdom that are recommended by industry.

The latest list of the UK’s notified national technical rules (NNTRs) submitted to the commission by the Department for Transport is available on GOV.UK. RGS Online contains details about the Rail Group Standards referred to in the NNTR list.

The UK’s national reference document is a list of national technical rules for vehicle authorisation and is available on the European Railway Agency’s website.

Contacts for other organisations’ NNTRs

These contacts can supply a list of rules outside of Great Britain mainline that are under development for future notification as NNTRs:

  1. Rail interoperability current notified national technical rules

    • Guidance

Common technical standards: notified bodies and designated bodies

Notified bodies (NoBos) and designated bodies (DeBos) are independent bodies appointed by DfT. They are assessed as meeting certain criteria, including competence, independence and integrity under the Railways (Interoperability) Regulations 2011.

  1. Rail interoperability notified bodies and designated bodies

    • Guidance

Implementation of interoperability

The following information contains details of how rail interoperability is implemented in Great Britain. A history of rail interoperability legislation is available on the National Archives.

Background to TSI implementation plans

An important element of the strategy for rail interoperability is to create realistic and deliverable long-term implementation plans for each technical specification for interoperability (TSI). The plans will be essential to:

  • understand and set out the business case for migration towards the widespread use of rail interoperability
  • strategically plan for the development of the future rail network
  1. Energy technical specification for interoperability: implementation plan

    • Guidance
  2. Telematics applications for passengers and freight: implementation plan

    • Correspondence
  3. UK national register of infrastructure implementation plan

    • Guidance
  4. European railway traffic management system: implementation plan

    • Guidance