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Agency Accreditation Guidance Notes



Section A

Section B




Ticket Issuing System Suppliers

OVERVIEW (Top of Page)

ATOC is the Association of Train Operating Companies. It is an unincorporated trade body for the companies which run scheduled passenger trains on the rail network managed by Network Rail.

The current members of ATOC are shown in Appendix 1.0. ATOC was formed to support the new Train Operating Companies emerging from the Government’s rail privatisation programme.

The following pages will give more detailed information which may help you in the completion of your application to become an ATOC Licensed Travel Agent.


ATOC will not normally visit your premises prior to successful accreditation. On arrangement you might wish ATOC to facilitate contact with the Sales Manager of the Train Operating Company which will be most important for your sales to discuss your individual business plan.

Q. As an ATOC Agent what rail products can I sell?

ATOC Agents can sell the full range of National Rail Products which are made available by all Train Operating Companies.

Q. What Rail Products can I NOT sell?

Season Tickets, local promotions, short term promotions, certain types of tickets which include entrance to theme parks or exhibitions and special fares introduced by TOC’s from time to time.

Q. How will I obtain Ticket Stocks?

When you are appointed as an ATOC Agent, you will be given an account code which will entitle you to request rail ticket stock from ATOC’s approved suppliers.

Q. What if the Agency is not IATA approved?

If your agency is not IATA approved, your application will still be considered.

Q. What costs are involved?

There will be an initial set up fee of £300 plus VAT. This is a non-refundable charge. A Bond or Banker’s Guarantee will be requested in which case your bank might raise a charge for this service. If you need to send members of your agency sales staff on a course for the rail qualification you will need to pay the fees raised by ATOC’s Approved Training Suppliers.

Q. How long does the licensing application procedure take?

A completed application, where you have a minimum of two members of staff with rail qualification, appropriate financial security and a robust Marketing Plan could be complete in around six - eight weeks. All applications are referred to Train Operating Companies for their endorsement. If you have to send staff on training courses or apply to other organisations for qualifying factors, then the procedure will be extended and could take a little longer.

Q. What level of Commission will my agency earn?

The commission level will be 3%. Licensees are required to provide a bond or financial guarantee. Any incentives over and above the basic rate of commission must be negotiated with individual Train Operating Companies who may agree a specific proposal based on their company’s level of sales at your agency.

Q. Is there a minimum level of rail sales turnover needed before a licence will be granted?

As a guide the minimum requirement in the first year’s trading should be between £25,000 and £50,000. Consideration may be given by ATOC if the circumstances were that the agent was in a rural geographical area and revenue expectation was less than £25,000.

Section A – Guidance notes for completion of the rail license application form (Top of Page)

This is the formal legal name & address under which your company is recorded at Companies House.

REGISTRATION NUMBER - This is the legal number under which your company is registered at Companies House.

TRADING NAME - This is the name that your company is using as its “brand name” on shop signs, letter heads, brochures etc. A copy of your letter headed paper will help here.

CONTACT NAME - who is the person in your company with whom ATOC’s Travel Trade Administrator should deal?

What is the Job Title or Job Role of the person whom you have designated as the Contact Name.

If your office is open just Mondays to Fridays or Mondays to Saturdays, then tick the box to the right of the appropriate days. Please show the hours e.g. 09-00 to 13.00/14.00 to 18.00 when your office is open.

A2 If you have ATOC rail licenses at other branches of your business, this will help to support this application, so please list the Licence Numbers. If you currently sell for other rail companies such as Eurostar, then indicate the name of the Rail Company and the appropriate account number.

A3. Agency organisations can differ, so please list the principal directors of your organisation who would be responsible for the rail business.

If you are an IATA (International Air Transport Association) approved agent this will help with your application to become an ATOC licensed travel agent. Please provide details of your IATA number and also the name and address of the Bankers who will be processing the business payments for the agency for which you are applying for a licence.

Please include all of the details including your Bank’s postcode and the sort code. The sort code is normally shown in the top right hand corner of your cheques.

A5 All Agencies must have suitable security arrangements, which should include a safe and burglar alarms.

The rail qualification certificate is a mandatory element of criteria for obtaining your ATOC licence. Agents must have a minimum of two staff or 20% of the staff engaged in selling rail products, whichever is the greater with rail qualification certificates in order to receive your rail licence. Details of training course suppliers can be found on the ATOC travel agents website


Please refer to Appendix 2 below

A.8 OFFICE EQUIPMENT - Please define what office equipment is available at the location to be accredited.

A9 SET UP FEE - There is an initial non-refundable set up fee which is currently £300 plus VAT. This fee should be paid before the licence is approved.


The information you give in this Section will be important in supporting your application.

B.1 BACKGROUND - Enter the date that you began business as a travel agent at the location for which you are applying for an ATOC licence and enter your gross company turnover for the last five years as annual figures

If you currently acquire rail tickets for your customers show if you get these from a rail station or another agency.

Enter NO to both if you DO NOT currently supply rail tickets to your customers.

Enter the approximate annual value of the rail tickets that you anticipate supplying to your customers based on current demand or the acquisition of a new customer.

In the Section headed Significant Business Developments including future plans, show events such as: Acquisition of new business account worth £2m etc.

B.2 TARGET MARKETS - You have potentially two markets to target: one for business travel and one for leisure. Many of your potential customers may fall into both categories. The total of both Business and Leisure should be shown as a percentage split of your total potential rail business.


As a guide for ATOC you must show that you will produce a significant amount of new rail business to support your application as a sales agent we as that this is split out by Ticket on Purchase (ToP) and Ticket on departure (ToD). You then need to indicate how you expect this to grow in the second year of your sales operation.

B 4 MARKETING ACTION PLAN - This section is very important and you may want to produce separate documentation. You may already have prepared a business plan and can simply attach it to your application. You need to indicate what business actions such as Promotional events, advertising in the media, television, joint promotions with tour operators etc. at which you will be able to promote the rail business for which you are now seeking a licence.


Travel Agents are required to settle accounts on a 4 weekly basis.

The Agent will receive an invoice and itemised statement by e-mail at the end of each four weekly accounting. 

Payment is by Direct Debit. Your account will be debited by the amount due 19 days after the period end. Further details will be sent to you upon the licence being granted.


Applying for an ATOC rail licence should be seen as a mutually viable business activity. You will be entering into a legal contract with ATOC on behalf of the Train Operating Companies. As well as the benefits that this will bring, it is important to remember that any breach of clauses in the legal agreement will incur financial penalties. 

Late payment will incur a penalty of 4.5% above the current bank base rate per day and may be subject to additional administration charges.


Items such as product brochures are supplied by the individual Train Operating Companies directly on request.

Requirements for these documents will be subject to additional charges to the agent.

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1.0 Train Operating Companies

2.0 Ticketing Issuing Strategy

APPENDIX 1 (Top of Page)


1. ARRIVA Trains Wales/Trenau Arriva Cymru Limited
2. c2c Rail Limited (trading as LondonLines)

3. East Midlands Trains Limited
4. First Capital Connect
5. First Greater Western Trains Limited 
6. First/Keolis TransPennine Limited
7. First Scotrail Limited
8. Hull Trains Limited
9. London & Birmingham Railway Limited
10. London Eastern Railway Limited
London Overground Rail Operation Limited
12. London & South Eastern Railway limited
13. Merseyrail Electrics 2002 Limited
14. East Coast Trains Limited
15. New Southern Railway Limited 
16. Northern Rail Limited 
17. Stagecoach South Western Trains Limited 
18. The Chiltern Railway Company Limited
19. West Coast Trains Limited 
20. XC Trains Limited

 March 2012 

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Future Ticket Issuing System (TIS) Strategy for Travel Agents

ATOC has been working with several TIS suppliers, interested in the travel agency market to facilitate their entry into the market. Please see a list below of system suppliers you may like to contact.

It should be noted that some suppliers have completed or are near to completing their software development to enable entry into this market whilst others have simply indicated an interest in entering this market.

ATOC firmly believe this important change to TIS provision, through the creation of a competitive TIS supply market, will bring significant improvements to the quality of systems available to Travel Agents and the ease with which they can continue to retail the rail product into the future. 


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