Legal support for the rail industry 

Hugh James has a dedicated rail team which supports rail operators and the wider rail industry on a broad range of areas involving their commercial activities, infrastructure projects, workforce and real estate. Our team comprises experts from across our specialist legal teams, all of whom have considerable experience representing major operators, franchises and contractors.

The rail sector has experienced significant transformation over the last few decades and will see considerable change in the years ahead as the industry embraces new infrastructure and technology, as well as increasing passenger numbers and economic challenges. The rail industry needs lawyers who understand the unique environment in which they operate and can provide clear, commercial advice which helps them to solve problems.

Our approach to working with rail clients is to immerse ourselves in our clients’ organisation to ensure our understanding of their commercial activities and challenges is as thorough as possible. In the past we have done this in a variety of ways, often by placing secondees within our rail clients to ensure knowledge sharing between us and our clients is seamless. This approach helps us to add value by ensuring we can provide dedicated support from lawyers who are always fully up to speed. Importantly it also helps us build effective and trusted relationships which are vital when it comes to partnering on complex and demanding projects.

Key contact

Aled Walters leads Hugh James’s specialist rail team. He is the relationship partner for the firm’s largest rail operator clients and manages the workstreams in the sector, including secondment arrangements for the team.

View team

Our services 

Operations – specialist advice on day-to-day rail commercial activities, major strategic projects and complex contractual arrangements relating to passenger and freight operations as well as rail stations and platform services.

Dispute resolution – rail disputes including litigation, arbitration, adjudications and ADR.

Procurement – specialist advice on the procurement of rail specific goods and services

Commercial property – advice in relation to rail stations, depots, signal boxes and general real estate

Construction and projects – advice in relation to rail infrastructure projects.

Our rail experience 

  • Managed service agreement for the provision of IT support by Keolis Amey to Transport for Wales.
  • Advising on contracts for telecoms providers for fixed and mobile services, WiFi in office premises, at stations and on-board rolling stock.
  • Provision, maintenance and support of ticket vending machines; and energy contracts.
  • Advising on the terms of the franchise agreement and grants.
  • Advising on the amendments to rail operator obligations and consequential amendments of grant agreements.
  • Advising on the agreement between rail operator and waste disposal specialist in the rail industry for the provision of waste disposal services.
  • Advising on agreements with suppliers, (utilities, road transport services and catering).
  • Advising on track access agreements with Network Rail.
  • Advising on multimillion-pound software and hardware supply agreements with suppliers following the grant of the operation of a new rail franchise. Agreement for the supply of software, hardware, security services, internet connectivity services, back-up, archiving and recovery services and release management.
  • Advising on agreements managing obligations between rail franchise operators.
  • Advising on platform lease agreements; platform property agreements; platform concession agreements.
  • Advising on leases relating to rail depots and track rights agreements.
  • Advising on disputes generally in the rail sector, including around catering services and disputes relating to previous franchisees.
  • Advising on employment rights of all manner of employees in the rail industry.
  • Advising on Health and Safety, regulatory and compliance advice to rail operators, including those relating to criminal sanctions.

Client case study - Keolis Amey

Hugh James was appointed legal advisor to Keolis Amey Wales Limited, the entity which has been awarded the new rail franchise for Wales and the Borders following many years in the hands of Arriva Trains Wales. 

For the past two years since the franchise award, Aled and his team has worked very closely with Keolis on numerous complex and major pieces of legal advice, including advising on its funding and grant agreements, high-value supply arrangements, IT, IP and property matters. 

Two members of the team have been seconded to Keolis Amey for significant periods during the last two years, which has enabled us to acquire in-depth knowledge of the client, its requirements and personnel.  This model is one we have replicated with other clients in the sector and works very well.


"[Aled] is super-efficient, super-successful for us and a good point man."

Chambers & Partners UK


The team is very proactive and knowledgeable about the sector in which they operate to ensure a first-class service is provided.

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