Companies wanting to use drones on or near Network Rail or TfL infrastructure can now access guidance and apply to be formally qualified as suppliers via the Railway Industry Supplier Qualification Scheme (RISQS).
Drones, otherwise known as 'unmanned aerial vehicles' (UAVs), are now much more readily available, and are used widely by many industries. They are also proving useful for viewing rail infrastructure before and after work is completed, and can reduce risk by avoiding the need to put staff in hazardous environments to inspect assets.
However, drones can bring risks of their own and operators need to be aware of the Civil Aviation Authority instruction to keep 50 metres clear of any person, vessel, vehicle or structure which isn't in the control of the person in charge of the aircraft. On the railway this includes all Network Rail assets and structures up to and including the railway boundary.
RISQS has published a new product code and guidance to suppliers for drone operation on or near railway infrastructure, which all companies wishing to operate UAVs near railway infrastructure must to hold in addition to any code associated with the task that the UAV will be used for.
RISQS is the industry-owned supplier qualification service for the rail industry, which is supported by RSSB with a range of services to support operational delivery of the scheme, and to support governance via the RSSB Board.
For more information about RISQS and the new code for UAVs, go to the RISQS website.