Network Rail’s national drone coverage looks set to expand further as the first details of its new national framework emerge.
Speaking exclusively to CDP earlier this year, Rikke Carmichael, head of air operations, and Paul Lindup, project manager in specialist aerial services, confirmed that a new framework was imminent.
Today, DJI and Heliguy confirmed that the firm based in the North East won a place on the new £2.6m framework contract.
The UAV specialist will be used to supply, maintain, repair and service Network Rail’s drones, as well as to deliver training to the infrastructure group’s in-house pilots.
It has been awarded a three-year contract, which can be extended to five years, to help Network Rail use drones to cover infrastructure inspections and maintenance checks along its nationwide rail network.
Lindup told CDP in April: “The new framework is on the cards at the moment and should be going live in the next few weeks to then progress and increase the size of that coverage of companies. Also, inside of that, we have in-house drone operation and that has been under a trial header really for the last two years.”
Adding: “That started around December 2017 and has only just come to the end of the trial just recently. That was set up to train up and equip Network Rail employees to see what they can do within the company using their own expertise and experience within their day jobs.”
The move with Heliguy today highlights how Network Rail’s plan is coming to fruition as it continues to expand drone coverage across the country.
In order to acquire new companies for the framework, Network Rail put the applicants through a process to ensure they can represent the company in the right way.
Lindup explained in April: “It is through a fair tender process. So, for the current Framework, or the new framework that will go live in the next few weeks we have actually gone through a twelve month process to find the right company to come and work with us.”
He continued: “That was an open tender process where they have all applied for it and we’ve basically, or are still in the process of, marking these companies to ensure they fulfil all of the requirements that we need. So it’s not locally, what we’ve got a Framework that will cover the nation for the whole country, and that is managed through ourselves at air operations.”
This is a breaking news story and will be updated as CDP finds out more.