It is not the role of the Department or Network Rail to approve or reject any access applications. The decision on all access applications is solely the responsibility of the Office of Rail Regulation as the independent regulator. The Department responds to consultations on access applications as appropriate.
The ORR’s past decisions on track access applications can be found on their website (http://orr.gov.uk/consultations/access-consultations/track-access-decisions) alongside current applications being considered (http://orr.gov.uk/consultations/access-consultations/current-track-access-applications). There are currently two open access operators operating on the East Coast Mainline who were approved by the ORR. These are Grand Central and First Hull Trains.