A chapter in the story of the railway is heading to York, where recent rail history is being preserved in a national archive.

With companies like GNER and Railtrack ceasing to operate, a permanent home was needed for their records.

The National Railway Museum (NRM) will house the new Rail Industry National Archive, which will enable public access information and conserve it for the future. Steve Davies, NRM director, said: “Search Engine, our railway archive based at York, is already a popular and valuable resource for historians and academics into the history of Britain’s railway down to 1997.

“The Rail Industry National Archive will ensure the records continue unbroken into the period of privatisation – a unique and continuous record of the changes in business and society that the railway brought to Britain.”

The archive was set up in partnership by the Railway Heritage Committee and the National Museum of Science and Industry, which controls the NRM.

As they are released by rail companies, records will be transferred to the museum in York and will also be available for research at the Science Museum Libraries and Archives in London and at Wroughton, near Swindon.

Material which needs to remain commercially confidential for a period will be preserved in deep storage in the museum’s new purpose-built archive repository.

Peter Ovenstone, Railway Heritage Committee chairman, said: “Railways were Britain’s gift to the world, and we have world class museums where locomotives and other railway artefacts are preserved.

“This can now be matched by the comprehensive preservation of and access to the records of today’s rapidly changing railway.”