Latest Rail News

27.01.15

Network Rail awards drone framework contract

Network Rail has awarded a framework contract to four companies to use drones to perform infrastructure inspections and land surveys.

The three-year national framework agreement, signed in December, will see Cyberhawk, AM-UAS, Resource Group and Richard Allitt Associates provide Remotely Operated Aerial Vehicle (ROAV) services. Network Rail will use the map data provided by the drones to improve track maintenance and boost field worker efficiency while reducing the amount of working at height required on Network Rail’s assets.

It will also be used as part of the Offering Rail Better Information Services (ORBIS) scheme, which includes capturing detailed photographs in 3D and cross-sections so employees can pull up a map of the network, complete with minute details. ORBIS used data from the national Aerial Survey to produce the first version of its mapping tool, the GEO-RINM (Rail Infrastructure Network Model), but will use drones to update the maps regularly.

Network Rail spokesman Dan Donovan said bigger changes are on the horizon too, telling us: "We would like to bring this service in-house. We don’t own any UAVs or pilots; at the moment, we’re subcontracting it out to these four [companies]. They know we would like to bring it in-house eventually, and we are working with them to see what is the best way of doing that.

“Instead of using a helicopter to do these jobs, which is incredibly expensive per hour, we could turn it around in an hour – send up 'one man in a van' with a UAV to get the job done. It’s quicker, cheaper and safer. It’s something we’d love to do in the near future.”

Cyberhawk uses ROAVs, also known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) or drones, to provide high-quality inspection and land survey information to the oil and gas, renewable and utilities sectors. The contract with Network Rail is its first foray into transport.

Craig Roberts, Cyberhawk CEO, said: “This contract underlines the huge benefits of information provided by ROAVs in complex industrial settings.

“Network Rail recognised the potential for this technology several years ago and have been very forward thinking in setting up this national framework agreement. Cyberhawk’s remote aerial surveys and inspections will help to reduce the need for working at height and minimise disruption to customers.”

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@railtechnologymagazine.com

Comments

Dominic Woolnough   30/01/2015 at 12:48

Interesting development - I'm currently reviewing the applicability, approval process and certification requirements for this activity on RISQS which is not as yet a recognised rail inductry audited service.

Geoff Parsons   15/10/2016 at 19:33

The Indian railways are using drones for inspection and other purposes and in Australia a major mining company is trialling a unmanned ground vehicle system aka drone train to haul minerals. In the UK safety is a major concern of the CAA and various safeguards are required of commercial drone service operators - a) qualified pilots, b) insurance, c) compliance with dronelaw for flying and d) good quality operations.

Add your comment

 

related

rail technology magazine tv

more videos >

latest rail news

Rail companies launch plan to deliver £9.2bn economic benefit to south east

20/06/2018Rail companies launch plan to deliver £9.2bn economic benefit to south east

Rail companies have come together to launch a long-term plan for the railway in south east London and Kent. The region’s rail companies, s... more >
Anger as Northern Rail routes ‘not really valued’ by ministers and DfT

20/06/2018Anger as Northern Rail routes ‘not really valued’ by ministers and DfT

Department for Transport officials and ministers were warned about Northern Rail chaos two years ago, but saw some key routes as “not reall... more >
NR launches tender for £5bn track alliances

20/06/2018NR launches tender for £5bn track alliances

Network Rail has commenced the tender process for the next generation of track work contracts, valued at up to £5bn. A Contract Notice has... more >

editor's comment

23/01/2018Out with the old...

Despite a few disappointing policy announcements, especially for the electrification aficionados amongst us, 2017 was, like Darren Caplan writes on page 20, a year generally marked by positive news for the rail industry. We polished off the iconic Ordsall Chord (p32), hit some solid milestones on Thameslink (p40), progressed on ambitious rolling stock orders (p16), and finally started moving forward on HS2 (p14) ‒ paving the way for a New Ye... read more >

rail industry focus

View all News

interviews

Transforming travel in the north west

06/02/2018Transforming travel in the north west

RTM’s Josh Mines talks to Robin Davis, head of new trains at TransPennine Express (TPE), about the huge rolling stock change journey the co... more >
Thameslink: Nearing the end of the line

23/01/2018Thameslink: Nearing the end of the line

RTM’s Josh Mines catches up with Mark Somers, project director for Thameslink, on how the final stages of the programme are progressing and... more >
Modernising journeys in north east England

09/11/2017Modernising journeys in north east England

First Hull Trains is about to embark on the biggest fleet overhaul it has delivered since being set up in 2000. Managing director Will Dunnett te... more >

last word

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

This summer, Arriva Group's CrossCountry and the Scout Association joined to launch a new partnership to promote rail safety among young people. ... more > more last word articles >

'the sleepers' daily blog

How biometrics can help improve health and safety measures on railway construction projects

20/03/2018How biometrics can help improve health and safety measures on railway construction projects

ADVERTISEMENT FEATURE Biometric identity, time and attendance specialists Donseed looks at how biometric technology is already starting to enh... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >

comment

Apprenticeship levy: the latest picture

05/06/2018Apprenticeship levy: the latest picture

Mark Holmes, head of membership and development at NSAR, describes the current resources available to the rail industry to ensure companies of al... more >
Moving in the right direction

05/06/2018Moving in the right direction

Alex Cropper, head of projects group at Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM), reports on the exciting progress so far in building the Trafford... more >
Overcoming leaves on the line

05/06/2018Overcoming leaves on the line

Paul Gray, professional lead of engineering R&D at the RSSB, explains how latest research proves using double variable rate sanders on trains... more >
Rail: A woman’s world

18/05/2018Rail: A woman’s world

RTM’s Sacha Rowlands reports from a panel debate where six of the industry’s leading figures convened to discuss the fundamental issu... more >