Respecting rail heritage

Appreciating cultural history and rail heritage – both the physical heritage and the people’s history.

Network Rail has a responsibility to respect and protect historical features of cultural significance, and to promote the heritage and history of the railway network and its people.

Britain’s railways represent over 200 years of engineering innovation and progress, and the work that Network Rail does today ensures this inspiring story lives on. Britain has a rich variety of historic infrastructure, much of which is still in use today and requires respect and preservation. In addition, the people of Britain –especially the railways’ past and present employees – have a fantastic knowledge of the social history of the railway; it is essential that their memories and knowledge live on for future generations to learn and benefit from.

Why is respecting cultural history important to Network Rail?

Work to respect cultural history and rail heritage is a valuable way in which Network Rail is working towards the RSSB principles of ‘Putting rail in reach of people’, by enabling links with new groups of people, as well as being ‘Customer-driven’ in the history and heritage projects chosen.

What is Network Rail’s approach to respecting cultural history?

Network Rail is working with its staff, contractors, and local communities to educate them around the importance of preserving historic features. Projects need to be aware of their level of interaction with, and proximity to, features of historic and cultural significance, so that they can adjust their work accordingly. Volunteering opportunities to work with local communities and rail heritage sites is a positive and proactive way to embed a culture of self-preservation and railway pride, encouraging an increased awareness of historic significance and the opportunity to encourage tourism and economic benefits. We aim to encourage the wider rail industry to take an active role in self-preservation, carefully considering their approach to working on or near archaeological features, ancient monuments, listed structures and/or heritage and conservation sites.

Key contacts

For general enquiries please email

For specific enquiries please contact the Network Rail Archive team or the Railway Heritage Trust.

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