In response to the coronavirus outbreak and the subsequent introduction of movement restrictions, the Government announced emergency measures to ensure that the railways continued to operate in the circumstances of dramatically falling passenger numbers.

Train operators with government franchise agreements had the opportunity to “temporarily transition” onto Emergency Measures Agreements (EMAs), under which the normal financial franchise mechanisms were suspended (initially for 6 months), transferring all revenue and cost risk to the Government. The train operators then continued to run day-to-day services for a small pre-determined management fee. Alongside transferring the financial risk to government, EMAs also imposed some obligations on the private train operating companies, in what is already a highly regulated industry.

The ONS is therefore assessing if these new procedures should affect the statistical classification of the train operating companies within the UK national accounts. The result of the review will be announced as soon as possible.