Guidance

Rail transport, safety and technical standards if there's no Brexit deal

How leaving the EU without a deal will affect rail safety and technical standards, cross-border rail operations and passenger rights.

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The UK will leave the EU on 31 October. This page tells you how to prepare for Brexit. It will be updated if anything changes, including if a deal is agreed.

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Recognition of documentation

You may need different documentation to run or work on cross-border and domestic UK rail services after a no-deal Brexit.

If you are an EU-based operator, you will need to apply to the ORR for UK documentation to run services in the UK. You need to prepare and allow enough time to apply for this documentation.

The EC says that certificates and licences issued by the UK’s national safety and licensing authority, the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), will not be valid in the EU if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

However, the EU has legislated to allow for a temporary extension to the validity of documents needed to run rail services, in order to support the continuation of cross-border services.

UK-issued operator licences, safety authorisations, safety certificates and train driver licences will continue to be valid in the cross-border area (Calais-Fréthun in France and Dundalk in Ireland) for 9 months from the date of Brexit. Operators of cross-border services operating beyond the cross-border area will be subject to the recognition implications set out in this technical notice and must comply with them. The UK will also recognise certain EU-issued documents for a limited period after we leave the EU. This includes operator licences, safety certificates, and train driving licences, all of which will continue to be valid across the UK.

Participation in the EU Agency for Railways

The UK does not intend to seek formal participation in the EU Agency for Railways (EUAR) if there’s no Brexit deal. We do, however, encourage the UK rail industry to work with EUAR at technical and working levels. Stakeholders should be actively planning for this and considering their options with EUAR for participation if the UK is no longer a formal member.

Rail passenger rights

Passengers using cross-border services must ensure that their insurance and ticket terms cover possible disruption.

The rights for UK passengers on both domestic and cross-border rail services will not change, when we leave the EU.

Operator licences

If you need to re-apply for an operator licence you should do so as soon as possible.

There will be no impact on UK-based domestic operators using ORR-issued licences in a no-deal Brexit. This includes subsidiaries of EU and non-EU owned operators using ORR-issued licences.

Licences issued by an EU country will be valid for operators in the UK for up to 2 years from the day we leave the EU. By the end of this period you will have needed to have fully secured a UK-licence from the ORR to continue operating. You do not need to be established in the UK to do this. The Railway (Licensing of Railway Undertakings) (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 makes the required changes to operator licensing regime. Further information can be found in the explanatory memorandum to the regulations.

Operators holding an ORR-issued licence which run domestic services in the EU will need to re-apply for an operator licence in an EU country. This is also the case for UK-based operators seeking to run new domestic services in an EU country.

Operators of cross-border services between the UK and the EU holding an ORR-issued licence will need to re-apply for an operator licence in an EU country so that it is fully in place by the end of the 9-month period referenced above.

Safety certificates

If you need to re-apply for a Part A safety certificate you should do so as soon as possible.

ORR-issued Part A and Part B safety certificates will still be valid for UK-based domestic operators under a no-deal Brexit.

Non-UK based operators running a domestic-only service in the UK, with a Part A safety certificate issued in the EU, can continue using these certificates for up to 2 years from the day we leave the EU or until they expire - whichever is earlier. At this point you will need to apply to the ORR for a UK Part A certificate and renew the UK Part B safety certificates to continue operating. You do not need to be established in the UK to do this.

The Rail Safety (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 is the first of 2 instruments affecting the required changes to the safety regime. The next piece of legislation will provide for the time-limited recognition. In the interim, the status quo has been retained.

Further information can be found in the explanatory memorandum to the regulations.

ORR-issued Part B safety certificates will be valid until they expire and will not be subject to a time-limited period. The exception to this is where a Part A certificate issued in an EU country expires or is subject to the 2-year limit. In this case, the associated ORR-issued Part B certificate needs to be renewed at the same time.

The EC has said that UK-based operators running domestic services in the EU who hold an ORR-issued Part A safety certificate would need to re-apply for a Part A safety certificate in an EU country in a no-deal Brexit. This also applies to UK-based operators seeking to run new domestic services in an EU country.

Operators of cross-border services between the UK and the EU holding an ORR-issued Part A safety certificate will need to re-apply for a Part A safety certificate in an EU country so that it is fully in place by the end of the 9-month period referenced above.

Entities in charge of maintenance certificates

Stakeholders should ensure their entities in charge of maintenance (ECM) who maintain freight vehicles in the EU have certificates issued in the EU.

The validity of entities in charge of maintenance (ECM) certificates issued in the UK by the ORR or a certification body will be unchanged for freight vehicles running purely on the UK mainline in a no-deal Brexit.

ECMs that hold a certificate issued in another country can continue using these certificates for UK operations. The UK recognises these certificates through our international obligations under COTIF.

The EC has said that ECMs who maintain freight vehicles in the EU and who hold a certificate issued in the UK by the ORR or a recognised body will need to apply for a new ECM certificate from a certification body in an EU country.

Train driving licences

If you currently drive trains into an EU country on a UK licence, you will need a new EU licence and certification documents from the national safety authority of the country you wish to drive into. You should apply for these as soon as possible.

There will be no impact for operators in the UK using licences and certificates issued in the UK under a no-deal Brexit.

For operators in the UK, drivers using licences and certificates issued in the EU will be able to continue using this documentation for up to 2 years from the day we leave the EU or until they expire, whichever is earlier. At this point drivers working for a UK operator must apply to the ORR for a UK licence to continue operating in the UK.

The validity of certificates in the UK is unaffected by changes to the licence. However, operators must ensure that certificates held by newly re-licensed drivers and their registers of those certificates refer to the new licence. This is covered in The Train Driving Licences and Certificates (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019.

The EU’s contingency regulation provides for the temporary continuing validity of ORR-issued train driving licences for those drivers operating services in the cross-border area between the UK and France or Ireland (as far as Calais-Fréthun and Dundalk) in a no-deal Brexit. Those train driving licences will continue to be valid for 9 months following the UK’s exit from the EU.

Train drivers operating services beyond the cross-border area on the basis of an ORR-issued train driving licence will need to re-apply for a train driving licence in an EU Member State so that it is fully in place by the end of the 9-month period referenced above.

Interoperability constituents

The UK will continue to recognise interoperability constituents with certificates of conformity from an EU notified body, unless the applicable UK technical standards diverge from the standards set by the EU.

Where there is divergence, a reassessment is required by a UK conformity body. The same principle applies to certificates of verification for subsystems.

The EC has said that an interoperability constituent placed on the EU market before Brexit with a certificate of conformity from a UK notified body can be used for the period of validity of that certificate in subsystems or vehicles authorised before we leave the EU. Certification from a UK notified body will not be valid for interoperability constituents placed on the EU market after Brexit.

Vehicle authorisations

Vehicle authorisations already issued within the UK before Brexit will retain their validity in the UK after a no-deal Brexit.

If vehicles were first authorised outside of the UK, an added authorisation to place into service will be mandatory for the first use of vehicles in the UK. This system will be operated in accordance with the UK’s COTIF international obligations. This requirement should not cause disruption as it is effectively formalising current practice. Additional vehicle authorisation is generally always sought to ensure compliance with the UK’s non-harmonised technical rules.

The EC has said that vehicle authorisations delivered in the EU prior to Brexit will remain valid. After the withdrawal date, authorisations for placing in service in the EU will be based on certificates of verification issued by notified bodies in the EU countries.

Rail freight corridor

A rail freight corridor (RFC) is constituted of railway lines linking 2 or more terminals along a predefined principal route crossing more than one EU country. For each RFC, a dedicated governance structure is set up. The UK will no longer be a member of the North Sea - Mediterranean rail freight corridor in a no-deal Brexit. The impact of this will be minimal as the corridor has only ever been used once in the UK.

Published 30 May 2019