National Rail

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Image:National Rail logo.gif
National Rail uses the BR double-arrow logo

National Rail is a brand name of the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC). The brand and ATOC are jointly owned by the privatised passenger rail companies of Great Britain, which were formed out of British Rail, the now-defunct state-owned rail operator.

The term is usually used to distinguish these services from rail passenger services in Great Britain that do not have a British Rail background. This distinction is important, because National Rail services share a common ticketing structure and ticket inter-availability that do not necessarily extend to other services.

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[edit] National Rail and Network Rail

National Rail should not be confused with Network Rail. National Rail is a brand used to promote passenger railway services, while Network Rail is the organisation owning and managing the fixed assets (tracks, signals etc.) of the railway network.

In terms of geography, the two networks are similar but not identical. Most Network Rail lines also carry freight traffic and some lines are freight only. Some scheduled passenger services running on Network Rail lines, for example Eurostar, Heathrow Express, the Tyne and Wear Metro and small parts of the London Underground, are not part of the National Rail network. Conversely, some National Rail services run on track not part of the Network Rail network, for example on London Underground track.

[edit] Train operating companies

Passenger trains on the National Rail network are operated by one of 25 privately owned Train Operating Companies (TOCs). ATOC provides a common voice for the TOCs and provides some centralised coordination, for example the provision of a national timetable and journey planner. BR's double-arrow logo is part of the National Rail brand.

[edit] Other UK passenger rail operators

British Rail's operations never stretched to Northern Ireland, which has its own rail operator in Northern Ireland Railways (NIR). As a consequence NIR is not part of the National Rail network.

Several UK cities have their own metro or tram systems, which are also not part of the National Rail network. These include the London Underground, Docklands Light Railway,Blackpool Tramway, Croydon Tramlink, Glasgow Subway, Tyne and Wear Metro, Manchester Metrolink, Sheffield Supertram, Midland Metro and Nottingham Express Transit. However, Merseyrail, despite being a metro (in Merseyside), is part of the National Rail network.

Two recently inaugurated railway services, Heathrow Express and Eurostar, are also not part of the National Rail network.

Finally there are a significant number of privately owned or heritage railways, as listed in the list of British heritage and private railways, which are not part of the National Rail network.

[edit] Ticketing

National Rail services have a common ticketing structure inherited from British Rail. Through tickets are available between any pair of stations on the network, and can be bought from any station ticket office. Most tickets are inter-available between the services of all operators on routes appropriate to the journey being made. A notable exception is for journeys between London and Gatwick Airport, for which, as of March 2006, three operators issue different tickets valid on their own services only. There is also a London-Gatwick ticket that is valid on all operators except Gatwick Express. Additionally, operators on some other routes offer operator-specific tickets that are cheaper than the inter-available ones.

This common ticketing structure does not apply to operators that are not part of the National Rail network, although through tickets to and from National Rail stations involving the services of Heathrow Express and London Underground are available.

Passengers boarding a train without a ticket, where ticket-buying facilities are available, are required to pay the full fare (Open Single or Return) for the journey being made, and cannot take advantage of any discounted fares. On some services Penalty Fares apply - a ticketless passenger may be fined the greater of £20 or twice the full single fare to the next station stop. Penalty Fares can only be collected by authorized Penalty Fare Inspectors, not by ordinary conductors.

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

[edit] References

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National Rail

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