The Rule Book is available as an app on Android and Apple, as downloadable PDFs from the RSSB standards catalogue, and as printed copies.

The Rule Book is held by over 100,000 people, and as such is probably the best known and most widely distributed in the entire RSSB catalogue. Even greater numbers of people are known to use it as a reference and information document both from the United Kingdom and abroad. It also generates by far the greatest number of queries via our customer self-service portal.

RSSB's Rail Operations team

In addition to maintaining the Rule Book and other publications, the Rail Operations team provides advice and support on a wide range of subjects concerning the practicalities, logistics and ‘people’ aspects of railway operations. To this end, they work very closely with their colleagues in the Human Factors team. The Rail Operations team has also developed strong links with engineering disciplines both within RSSB, within the wider GB rail industry, and in Europe.

National Operations Publications

National Operations Publications (NOPs) contain direct instructions to railway staff.  They are most commonly known as ‘the Rule Book’. With the incorporation of instructions and information relating to freight operation and dangerous goods in March 2021, ‘the Rule Book’ is considered to be a collection of all NOPs that contain direct instructions to staff.

The Working Manual for Rail Staff: Freight Train Operations (previously commonly referred to as ‘the White Pages’) contained instructions for front line staff. These are now mostly included in a new Rule Book module, GERT8000-TW4 Preparation and working of freight trains, with some transferred to other modules. Module TW4 is intended to be used by all staff concerned with the acceptance, planning, handling, conveyance, marshalling, and movement of freight traffic.

The Working Manual for Rail Staff: Handling and Carriage of Dangerous Goods (previously commonly referred to as ‘the Pink Pages’) contained instructions for front line staff. These are now included in a new Rule Book module, GERT8000-TW4 Preparation and working of freight trains, and in an information handbook, RS524 List of Dangerous Goods and their United Nations Numbers. These are intended to be used by all staff involved in the classification, acceptance, identification, marshalling, movement and loading of dangerous goods.

The Rule Book

The Rule Book is a vital safety document. It is a set of modules and handbooks which contain direct instructions for railway staff, and sets out the operational rules for application on the GB mainline railway. These are necessary to enable the safe and timely delivery of people and goods to their destination and to provide the framework to enable safe engineering operations.

You can see which modules and handbooks are relevant to specific roles in the Rule Book module matrix. This matrix lists the Rule Book modules, handbooks and information handbooks suggested to be issued to a person who is competent to carry out the duties of the job title or role shown in the list. However, roles and responsibilities may differ across the GB mainline network, so it is ultimately the employer’s responsibility to determine which Rule Book modules and handbooks are required by their employees, or other workers under their control.

Modules

A Rule Book module contains a set of instructions for front line operating personnel, such as drivers, signallers, and shunters. These instructions apply across the GB mainline railway network. They help to manage safety across the operational interfaces that exist between the functional roles defined in the Rule Book.

Handbooks

A Rule Book handbook contains a set of instructions that are carried out by other personnel holding a particular competency in relation to track worker protection, engineering activity or operation of equipment.

Information handbooks

An information handbook (‘RS’ document) contains background information on the topics covered in Rule Book modules, Signalling Regulations and Rule Book handbooks. They do not contain instructions to directly manage the safety of operations.

Rule Book forms

Examples of the various operational forms which are used in relation to the Rule Book are listed in the current Rule Book Modules.

The operational concept for the GB main line railway

The scope of the Rule Book is aligned with the Fundamental Operating Principles as laid out in RSSB-GBMR-OC Operational Concept for the GB Mainline Railway. This document provides a link between nine Fundamental Operating Principles and the rules and instructions in the Rule Book. It indicates whether rules and instructions are defined for traffic operation and management on the mainline railway, and the warning and protection arrangements for people who have to work on or near the line. It provides a means of deciding whether a proposed method of operation would require a change to those rules and instructions, or whether the change is to internal company instructions or competence management systems.

Changes to the Rule Book

The content of the Rule Book is managed on industry’s behalf by RSSB, who are responsible for its maintenance, design, and publication. 

Changes to the Rule Book are published periodically, normally in March or September, coming into force three months later in June or December. They benefit the railway industry by providing the opportunity for greater productivity, increased efficiency, and improving safety and performance.

If an urgent need for change emerges outside of the normal publication cycle, then this is managed as a ‘limited change release’. This informs users of standards and National Operations Publications that a change is restricted to specific text and that the document has not been revised throughout. They are normally published on the same dates as the standards catalogue publication cycle. Documents can be published as limited change releases when there is a need to:

  1. make small editing amendments or clarification to the text
  2. make minor or significant technical change
  3. publish a change quickly. 

The content of limited changes releases to NOPs are published in the Periodical Operating Notice (PON). This is published every 3 months (in March, June, September and December) by Network Rail. The changes come into force on the date that the PON applies from. Such changes are also reflected in the Rule Book app and electronic versions of the NOPs published in the RSSB Standards Catalogue. 

Any proposed changes to the Rule Book going to industry consultation are listed under Forthcoming consultations. The Consultation and Stakeholder Register lists documents currently open for consultation.

How to get the Rule Book

The best way of accessing the Rule Book is through the app available on Android, Apple, and via internet browsers. This is a subscription-based product, normally available via employers. As an added benefit, Rule Book app users can receive automated push notifications when an amendment is published.

You can also download copies of the Rule Book modules, Handbooks and Information Handbooks in PDF from the Standards catalogue.

If you need hard copies of National Operational Publications, including the Rule Book, you can order them directly from Willsons.