Train operating company

A train operating company is a business operating passenger trains on the railway system of Great Britain under the collective National Rail brand. TOCs have existed since the privatisation of the network under the Railways Act 1993. There are two types of TOC: most hold franchises let by the Department for Transport through a tendering system, to operate services on certain routes for a specified duration, while a small number of open access operators hold licences to provide supplementary services on chosen routes; these operators can run services for the duration of the licence validity. The franchised operators have changed since privatisation: previous franchises have been divided, merged, re-let to new operators, or renamed; the term is sometimes used to describe companies operating passenger or freight rail services over tracks that are owned by another company or a national network owner. Franchises were let by the Office of Passenger Rail Franchising; this was in turn replaced by the Strategic Rail Authority.

For England and Wales, franchising is now the responsibility of the Department for Transport in the majority of cases. In Scotland, it is the responsibility of Transport Scotland. In two parts of England, local government agencies are responsible: in Merseyside, the Merseyside Passenger Transport Executive lets the Merseyrail franchise, while in London, Transport for London oversees the new London Overground and Crossrail concessions; the Rail Delivery Group provides a commonality for the TOCs and provides some centralised co-ordination. Its activities include the provision of a national timetable and online journey planner facility, the operation of the various Railcard discount schemes. Eurostar is a member of the RDG, though it is not itself a TOC. For historical and geographical reasons the railway network of the United Kingdom is split into two independent systems: one in Great Britain, one in Northern Ireland, linked to the railway system of the Republic of Ireland. In Great Britain, passenger train services are operated by a number of companies, referred to as Train Operating Companies or TOCs on the basis of regional franchises awarded by the Department for Transport Rail Group.

Until 2005 this role was performed by the Strategic Rail Authority. The infrastructure of the railways in England and Wales – including tracks and signalling – is owned and operated not by the train companies but by Network Rail, which took over responsibility from Railtrack in 2002. Most passenger trains are owned by a small number of rolling stock companies and are leased to the individual TOCs. However, a handful of TOCs maintain some of their own rolling stock. Train operating companies operate most of the network's stations, in their role as station facility owners, in which they lease the buildings and associated land from Network Rail. Network Rail manages some major railway stations and several stations are operated by London Underground or other companies. All passenger TOCs in Great Britain are owned; the majority of these hold franchises to operate rail services on specific parts of the railway and come under the auspices of the National Rail brand. In addition, companies are able to bid for "paths" to operate their own services, which the franchises do not operate – these operators are classed as open-access operators and are not franchise holders.

In Great Britain, there are two open-access operators: Hull Trains runs services between London King's Cross and Hull, Grand Central, which operates between London King's Cross and Sunderland and between London King's Cross and Bradford. In addition, there are operators that fall outside the purview of National Rail, which operate specific services which are recent additions to Britain's railways; the main examples are Eurostar, which operates to the continent via the Channel Tunnel, Heathrow Express, which runs fast services from London to Heathrow Airport. A number of metropolitan railways on the network are operated by the local franchise holder in conjunction with the passenger transport executive or other civic body responsible for administering public transport. One of these bodies, the Merseyside Passenger Transport Executive, is responsible for one of three National Rail franchises not awarded by central government, namely the Merseyrail franchise, while certain National Rail services in North London came under the control of Transport for London in November 2007 as London Overground.

Two other franchises, the Scottish national franchise operated by Abellio ScotRail, the Welsh domestic franchise, operated by Transport for Wales, are awarded by the devolved governments of the two constituent nations. The Rail Delivery Group is the coordinating body of the train operating companies in Great Britain and owns the National Rail brand, which uses the former British Rail double-arrow logo and organises the common ticketing structure. Many of the train operating companies are in fact parts of larger companies which operate multiple franchises; the railway network in Northern Ireland is managed differently from the rest of the UK. The sole company in Northern Ireland that operates trains is NI Railways, who are a subsidiary of Translink, the publicly owned transport corporation, which runs the Metro buses in Belfast and Ulsterbus coaches around the country. NIR is not a TOC under the terms of the Railways Act 1993; the cross-border service Enterprise is jointly operated with Iarnród Éireann, the national railway company of the Republic of Ireland

Mezen Bay

The Mezen Bay is located in Arkhangelsk Oblast and Nenets Autonomous Okrug in Northwestern Russia. It is one of four large bays and gulfs of the White Sea, the others being the Dvina Bay, the Onega Bay, the Kandalaksha Gulf; the Mezen Bay is the easternmost of these. Morzhovets Island lies at the entrance of the bay; the two main rivers emptying into the Mezen Bay are the Kuloy River, the Mezen River. The area of the bay is 6,630 square kilometres; the Mezen Bay is 97 kilometres wide. The tides in the Mezen Bay are the biggest in the White Sea; the northern part of the bay, just south of Morzhovets Island, is crossed by the Arctic Circle. The Mezen Bay was the fishing area; the pomors who populated the coast fished along it. A sudden change of the weather could drive them off-shore. In this case, Morzhovets island was the last land before they got driven off to the Barents Sea and perish, thus was considered to be the last resort. Another traditional occupation of the pomors in the Mezen Bay was seal hunting.

The south-western coast of the bay is known as Abramovsky Bereg, the eastern coast is known as Konushinsky Bereg. The principal villages on the Abramovsky coast are Koyda and Dolgoshhelye, both of the Mezensky District of Arkhangelsk Oblast. On the Konushinsky Coast, the main villages are Yazhma and Chizha, both in the Nenets Autonomous Okrug; the entire coast of the Mezen Bay is included into a border security zone, intended to protect the borders of Russian Federation from unwanted activity. In order to visit the zone, a permit issued by the local FSB department is required. There was a project to construct a tidal power station, Mezenskaya Tidal Power Plant, in the Mezen bay which would exploit the great height of the tides; the project has not been realized

Commodity pool operator

A Commodity pool operator is an individual or organization that solicits or receives funds to use in the operation of a commodity pool, investment trust, or other similar fund for trading in commodity interests. Such interests include commodity futures, options and/or leverage transactions. A commodity pool may refer to funds that can include hedge funds. A CPO may make trading decisions for a fund or the fund can be managed by one or more independent commodity trading advisors; the definition of CPO may apply to investment advisors for hedge funds and private funds including mutual funds and exchange-traded funds in certain cases. CPOs are regulated by the United States federal government through the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and National Futures Association. In the United States, trading of futures contracts for agricultural commodities dates back to at least the 1850s. In the 1920s, the federal government proposed the first regulation aimed at futures trading and, in 1922, the Grain Futures Act was passed.

Following amendments in 1936, this law was replaced by the Commodity Exchange Act. However, it was not until 1974, when the Commodity Futures Trading Commission was established under the Commodity Futures Trading Commission Act, that the "commodity pool operator" was recognized in legislation. At that time the majority of trading was in futures contracts for agricultural commodities, but, as noted by the CFTC, in years "the futures industry has become varied and complex". In July 2010, the definition of commodity pool operator under the Commodity Exchange Act was expanded by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act to include "persons operating collective investment vehicles that trade swaps". Prior to this, swaps were not included in the CPO definition. Prior to 1974, commodity pool operators were unregulated except for limited requirements to maintain records. In 1979, the CFTC adopted the first comprehensive regulation for commodity pool operators, strengthened by additional rules in 1982 and 1983, increasing the CFTC's oversight of such entities.

In 1983, the CFTC authorized the National Futures Association to carry out processing of registration for entities including CPOs. Under the Commodity Exchange Act, CPOs must register with and conform to the regulations of the CFTC, unless they meet the Commission's criteria for exemption. Additionally, registered CPOs are required to become members of the NFA, which regulates organizations or individuals who conduct futures trading business with public customers. All registered CPOs must follow the CFTC's disclosure requirements and provide the commission with records and reports. Under the CFTC's Rule 4.7, a CPO may be exempt from certain disclosure and reporting requirements if investment in the fund it operates is only open to "qualified eligible persons", including registered commodities and securities professionals and accredited investors. If not all of a CPO's investors are "qualified eligible persons", it may still be exempt from the full disclosure requirements of the CFTC if it engages in securities transactions.

Further exemptions from registration include those under CFTC Regulation 4.13, which states that operators of smaller commodity pools and pools trading at a de minimis level of commodity interests may be exempted, CFTC Regulation 4.5, under which certain operators can claim an exclusion from the definition "commodity pool operator". If a CPO is exempt from registration, they may still have to follow certain limited requirements for disclosure and reporting, including providing investors with a fund's offering memorandum, quarterly account statements, an abbreviated form of its annual report. In addition, the CPO is required to submit a self-executing notice and electronic reports with the NFA. All CPOs are subject to general market oversight. On January 26, 2011, following the 2010 enactment of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the CFTC made additions and amendments to the regulation of CPOs; these include two new forms of data collection. The CFTC introduced requirements for greater reporting of data and amended the requirements for who should register with the CFTC.

In particular, funds that use swaps or other commodity interests may be defined as commodity pools and their operators may be subject to registration with the CFTC, where they would not have been. The United States Chamber of Commerce and the Investment Company Institute filed a lawsuit against the CFTC, aiming to overturn this change to rules that would require the operators of mutual funds investing in commodities to be registered, but the lawsuit was unsuccessful and the rule change was upheld. Commodity trading advisor Managed futures account National Futures Association U. S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission