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How standards and the law fit together

​​​Our strategy for standards is designed to help industry with transition from domestic to European to International standards and clarifies how standards help rail companies in addressing their legal and other obligations.  

There are seven modules to the strategy framework, reflecting the different types of standards or rules which exist today.

The scope and force of standards

 

National technical rules

National technical rules (NTRs) are required by the Interoperability Directive, and so are about ensuring levels of technical consistency of railway products and services across the EU.

NTRs are designed to provide a way for railways to meet legal requirements which are not covered in a Technical Specification for Interoperability (TSI), either because the requirement isn't mentioned, isn't covered in sufficient detail, or where there's a deviation from a TSI.    

On Britain's railways, we publish NTRs as Railway Group Standards.

National safety rules

National Safety Rules (NSRs) are required by the Railway Safety Directive and so are about ensuring consistency in safety across the EU.

NTRs are designed to provide a way for railways to meet legal requirements which are not covered in a Technical Specification for Interoperability (TSI), either because the requirement isn't mentioned, isn't covered in sufficient detail, or where there's a deviation from a TSI.   

On Britain's railways, we publish NSRs as Railway Group Standards.

National operational publications

National Operations Publications (NOPs) are documents that contain direct instructions for railway staff.  The most familiar NOP for Britain's railways is the Rule Book.  Others include The Working Manual for Rail Staff: Freight Train Operations (known by some as the 'white pages') and the Working Manual for Rail Staff: Handling and Carriage of Dangerous Goods (known as the 'pink pages').

Rail Industry Standards

Rail Industry Standards (RISs) define functional or technical requirements which are not set out in TSIs, National Technical Rules or National Safety Rules but which can be used as off-the-shelf company-level standards, procedures and best practice to meet legal aims.  The beauty of RISs is that they describe arrangements agreed across the industry, but offer the flexibility to adapt them, or even do something differently, without the red tape of applying for deviations from RSSB.

Technical Specifications for Interoperability

Technical Specifications for Interoperability (TSIs) define the technical and operational legal requirements for railways in the EU.  They ensure consistency of railway products and services in safety, reliability, availability, health, environmental protection, technical compatibility and accessibility.  We work closely with Department for Transport to provide input to and oversight of the development of TSIs.

European and international standards

European standards (ENs) are Europe-wide standards that help in developing the single European market for goods and services in all sectors. The intention of ENs is to facilitate trade between countries, create new markets, and cut compliance costs.  Increasingly, opportunities for extending standards beyond Europe to other parts of the world are being explored.  In the UK, ENs are published by the British Standards Institute (BSI) as BS ENs, and we work closely to support the secretariat.

Company and project standards

Standards may be agreed at company or project level, for example to manage risk in areas not covered by industry standards or through specific laws, or as a way of providing local detail to legal and standards compliance.

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