Network Rail regulation and performance

26.04.19

BTP and Network Rail warn drone pilots after ‘dangerously close’ incident in Surrey

Network Rail and British Transport Police (BTP) have issued a warning to drone pilots to keep away from railway tracks after one incident in Surrey saw a drone fly “dangerously close” earlier this month.

The pilot of the drone risks being taken to court and facing a £2,500 penalty after footage posted online shows the drone appearing to fly close to the railway between Farnborough and Woking as the Flying Scotsman passed through.

Network Rail said it was working with the BTP to investigate the footage from the 12 April, and has warned other pilots to keep away from the railway.

Helen Yorke, route crime manager for Network Rail’s Wessex route, commented: “This was a very concerning incident which put the safety of passengers, railway staff and members of the public at risk.

“Network Rail has a team of pilots and specialist approved contractors who are the only people permitted to fly drones near the railway. We do this as inspecting the railway by air is both effective and efficient reducing disruption to train services or the need for workers to go trackside.”

Network Rail added that whilst it welcomes rail enthusiasts filming or taking photos safety, there guidelines which must be followed and told passengers to call 101 if they witness any dangerous uses of drones.

Inspector Andy Jackson from the BTP said: “First and foremost, flying a drone near to the railway can be extremely dangerous. It is a criminal offence to fly a drone on, over or within 50 metres of the railway and it is important that any would-be drone pilots are aware of this.

“These strict guidelines, put in place by the Civil Aviation Authority, are there to ensure the safety of those who are using the railway, including passengers, rail staff and the pilots of the drones.

“British Transport Police will always conduct vigorous investigations where we have evidence that drones are being flown illegally near the railway.”

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