UV - Unmanned Vehicles

Network Rail seeks drones for inspection

16th August 2018 - 14:21 GMT | by The Shephard News Team in London

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The UK’s Network Rail Infrastructure is seeking UAS services to complete general infrastructure inspections and surveys across England.

The contract, divided into three lots, is valued at £6.75 million ($8.6 million) and would include UAV pilot training and maintenance and repair over 36 months. Notice for the programme was revealed on 13 August.

Lot one details the need for 12 suppliers to provide coverage as follows; four suppliers for north, four for midlands and four for south.

The UAS as a service will carry out the inspection of structures, canopies and overhead line equipment as well as bridge surveys and be ready for incident condition inspection.

Lot two is for the maintenance and repair buy or hire options. Lot three is for the training.

The contract notice states that tenders may be submitted for all lots.

After the 36 months the contract is not subject to renewal. The deadline for submission is 13 September 2018.

Network Rail has already trailed and even implemented the use of drones as a means to inspect infrastructure.

The company says that its engineers use drones to inspect the railway ahead of repairs.

As part of a project to improve resilience of the railway between Exeter and Newton Abbot, Network Rail used a drone to survey a cliff face at Teignmouth, where the railway runs directly underneath. Uniquely, the drone was launched – and piloted from – a Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB).

Network Rail already has an air operations team and uses a range of drones for such operations. 

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