Network Rail is the owner and operator of Britain’s main-line rail infrastructure.

We are responsible for providing safe efficient reliable tracks, signaling systems and stations, enabling over 30 train operating companies to carry passengers and freight to destinations throughout the UK every year.

We run, maintain and develop 20,000 miles of track and 30,000 bridges, viaducts and tunnels, as well as all the associated signaling and communications equipment. We own the country’s 2,500 stations and manage 18 of the busiest and most iconic.

Every day we dispatch and manage the operation of 25,000 trains carrying more than 4 million passengers. Every year 1.7 billion trips are made on our network, and 100 million tons of freight is transported between ports, factories and shops. Network Rail shares its expertise with the world’s railway operators through Network Rail Consulting (NRC), acknowledged internationally as a centre of rail excellence.

We understand the high-level institutional, regulatory, technical, policy and strategic issues of running a 19th century railroad in the 21st century. We know how to operate a network, manage its assets and deliver enhancement programs.

We have unrivaled expertise in getting more out of legacy infrastructure, operating in a closely monitored market and continuously upgrading an active, heavily-used rail system.

What makes us different from other consultants is that we have genuine hands-on experience in solving the challenges you face in the real world of operating railroads.  We are not consultants in the traditional sense of the word. 

We are men and women maintaining and building one of the world’s leading railroads who want to share with you their expertise, experience and passion for the job.  

Network Rail owns, operates and develops Britain’s railway – more than 20,000 miles of track, 6,000 level crossings, 40,000 bridges and viaducts and 2,500 stations – including the largest 18 that we manage.

In partnership with train operators we help people take more than 1.7bn journeys by rail every year - double the number of 1996 - and move hundreds of millions of tonnes of freight, saving almost 8m lorry journeys. We’re investing £50bn in the railway to deliver more frequent, more reliable, safer services and brighter and better stations.

Britain has one of the highest customer satisfaction ratings of any rail system in the world and is the safest railway in Europe.

Since 2002, we’ve been part of the latest chapter in the nearly 200-year history of Britain’s railway

  • 1825 saw the first passenger service using steam locomotives on the Stockton and Darlington Railway.
  • In 1830 George Stephenson opened the first regular passenger service in the world, linking Canterbury to the seaside town of Whitstable.
  • The 1840s were the biggest decade of railway growth. A complete network was laid down with many towns and villages having a railway connection.
  • In 1883, the first electrified railway service was opened in Brighton.
  • During World War Two, Britain’s railways played a key role in the transportation of troops and evacuees around the country. The then ‘Big Four’ individual railway companies joined together to effectively become one organisation.
  • In 1948, Britain’s railways were nationalised to become British Railways.
  • From 1965 until 1994 the railway was run under the trading name of British Rail who operated and maintained all aspects of Britain’s railways – including the trains.
  • On 1 April 1994 Railtrack took control of Britain’s railway infrastructure as part of government legislation to privatise Britain’s railways. Railtrack was listed on the London Stock Exchange and the FTSE 100 list. Railtrack owned the infrastructure in the same way Network Rail does now, but maintenance and services were provided by local contractors.
  • On 3 October 2002 Network Rail replaced Railtrack making it the owners of Britain’s railway infrastructure.

Rail was invented in Britain and that’s why we’re so proud to be playing our part in its modern story, honouring this legacy while delivering a better railway for Britain’s future.

We’re committed to continuing the great success story of rail in Britain, following in the spirit of engineering inspiration, innovation and determination that underpins two centuries of history.


Key facts

Modernisation using smarter ways of working have delivered more frequent, more reliable, safer services and brighter and better stations

  • Britain’s railways are the fastest growing in Europe and we’re also one of the safest.1.7 billion passenger journeys, 29 billion tonne kilometres of freight and 7 million train movements every year
  • 18 major stations which handle over 950 million passenger journeys and 2,500 other stations - leased to train operators
  • one of the largest asset management companies in Europe, with 35,000 employees, 32,000 kilometres of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and embankments and over 40,000 signals
  • one of the biggest property portfolios in the UK with 7,400 commercial properties
  • 31 train-operating companies and 6 freight-operating companies
  • Britain’s railways are the fastest growing in Europe and also the safest.