UAV/Drone use near railway lines.

Gavin Chester made this Freedom of Information request to Network Rail Limited

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The request was successful.

Dear Network Rail Limited,

Please refer to Reference number: FOI2021/00001 and FOI2021/01235.

Network Rail has stated in prior correspondence that flying a UAV/drone near or over a railway line is not an offence, as long as the remote pilot adheres to all CAA legislation in force such as Air Navigation Orders and CAP722.

I note that the page for the initial FOI request
https://www.networkrail.co.uk/communitie... has a downloadable file dated July 2021 that states:

"Drones cannot be flown within 50 metres of Network Rail track without prior permission from Network Rail’s Air Operations team (as referenced in Standard NR/L3/OPS/251 on
the Network Rail Standards Portal)."

Standard NR/L3/OPS/251 does not look to have been reviewed since March 2019 (https://filming.networkrail.co.uk/wp-con...) and states the the standard is applicable to all Network Rail employees and contractors.

Can you please confirm where this 50m exclusion is codified in law that permits Network Rail to issue such a request people outside Network Rails employment, or has the download bene missed in the web site review? The download implies that flying near or over a railway line obligates the remote pilot to contact Network Rail Air Operations to seek permission when I do not believe any such legal obligation exists.

Yours faithfully,

Gavin Chester

FOI, Network Rail Limited

Reference number: FOI2022/00274

 

Dear Gavin Chester

 

Information request

 

Your correspondence was received by Network Rail on 1 March 2022. I can
confirm that your request is being processed under the terms of the
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)/Environmental Information Regulations
(EIR). I will endeavour to respond to you as soon as possible and in any
event by 30 March 2022.

 

I understand you are asking us to provide the following information:

 

“Please refer to Reference number: FOI2021/00001 and FOI2021/01235.

 

Network Rail has stated in prior correspondence that  flying a UAV/drone
near or over a railway line is not an offence, as long as the remote pilot
adheres to all CAA legislation in force such as Air Navigation Orders and
CAP722.

 

I note that the page for the initial FOI request

 

[1]https://www.networkrail.co.uk/communitie...
has a downloadable file  dated July 2021  that states:

 

"Drones cannot be flown within 50 metres of Network Rail track without
prior permission from Network Rail’s Air Operations team (as referenced in
Standard NR/L3/OPS/251 on

the Network Rail Standards Portal)."

 

Standard NR/L3/OPS/251  does not look to have been reviewed since March
2019
([2]https://eur02.safelinks.protection.outlo...
and states the the standard is applicable to all Network Rail employees
and contractors.

 

Can you please confirm where this 50m exclusion is codified in law that
permits Network Rail to issue such a request people outside Network Rails
employment, or has the download bene missed in the web site review?  The
download implies that flying near or over a railway line obligates the
remote pilot to contact Network Rail Air Operations to seek permission
when I do not believe any such legal obligation exists.”

 

If I have misunderstood or misinterpreted your request in any way please
let me know as soon as possible.

 

On occasion we may need to consult with third parties about requests, in
line with the recommendations in the Code of Practice issued by the
Cabinet Office.

 

If you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact me.

 

Please remember to quote your reference number in all future
communications.

 

Please note that if you are looking for information about yourself or on
behalf of someone else (for example CCTV footage of yourself, details of a
complaint you’ve made, information about a job application you’ve made,
etc.) it is very unlikely that we would be able to provide that
information to you under the FOIA/EIR. You may however be able to obtain
it through a Subject Access Request (SAR) under the Data Protection Act
2018, details of our SAR process, the form we ask you to complete and your
right to access information about yourself can be found at:
[3]https://www.networkrail.co.uk/wp-content...

 

Tanya Saunders | Information Officer

Freedom of Information | Legal & Corporate Services

 

Network Rail | 1^st Floor | Willen Building | The Quadrant: MK
Elder Gate | Milton Keynes | MK9 1EN

Email: [4][Network Rail request email]

Web: [5]http://www.networkrail.co.uk/foi/

Pronouns: She / Her

 

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References

Visible links
1. https://www.networkrail.co.uk/communitie...
2. https://eur02.safelinks.protection.outlo...
3. https://eur02.safelinks.protection.outlo...
4. mailto:[Network Rail request email]
5. https://eur02.safelinks.protection.outlo...

FOI, Network Rail Limited

1 Attachment

Reference number: FOI2022/00274

 

Dear Gavin Chester

 

Please find attached our response to your recent information request.

 

If you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact me.

 

Warm regards,

Tanya Saunders | Information Officer

Freedom of Information | Legal & Corporate Services

 

Network Rail | 1^st Floor | Willen Building | The Quadrant: MK
Elder Gate | Milton Keynes | MK9 1EN

Email: [1][Network Rail request email]

Web: [2]http://www.networkrail.co.uk/foi/

Pronouns: She / Her

 

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References

Visible links
1. mailto:[Network Rail request email]
2. https://eur02.safelinks.protection.outlo...

Dear Madam,

Thank you for your repsonse confirming that Network Rail cannot unilaterally enforce a 50m exclusion area around any railway line or facility.

While I agree that it makes good sense for drone fliers to maintain a safe distance where possible there is a difference between the PDF's statement that "drones CANNOT be flown" and the legal state that "Drones SHOULD not be flown."

May I also enquire if this wording will be updated, especially in the light of the change in regulations, which allow sub 250g drones, or drones marked as class C0 or C1 to be legally permitted to fly much closer to people and buildings and in the case of Class 0 even over fly uninvolved people and buildings. Transport hubs are specifically mentioned as areas that such a drone is permitted on the CAA web site - https://register-drones.caa.co.uk/drone-...

Again I agree that the drone operator should fly safely at all times and of course must follow the Air Navigation Orders and CAP 722, but the change in regulations will legally allow a drone operator to fly closer than 50m with certain drones and still remain within the law.

Yours sincerely,

Gavin Chester

FOI, Network Rail Limited

OFFICIAL

Reference number: FOI2022/00393

Dear Gavin Chester

Information request

Thank you for your email of 30 March 2022. I can confirm that your request is being processed under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) / Environmental Information Regulations (EIR). I will endeavour to respond to you as soon as possible and in any event by 29 April 2022.

To confirm, I have taken your request to be the following:

'May I also enquire if this wording will be updated, especially in the light of the change in regulations, which allow sub 250g drones, or drones marked as class C0 or C1 to be legally permitted to fly much closer to people and buildings and in the case of Class 0 even over fly uninvolved people and buildings. Transport hubs are specifically mentioned as areas that such a drone is permitted on the CAA web site - https://eur02.safelinks.protection.outlo...

If I have misunderstood your request in any way, then please reply back to this email and let me know the exact information you require from us.

On occasion we may need to consult with third parties about requests, in line with the recommendations in the Code of Practice issued by the Cabinet Office.

If you are looking for information about yourself or on behalf of someone else (for example CCTV footage of yourself, details of a complaint you've made, information about a job application you've made, etc.) it is very unlikely that we would be able to provide that information to you under the FOIA/EIR. You may however be able to obtain it through a Subject Access Request (SAR) under the Data Protection Act 2018, details of our SAR process, the form we ask you to complete and your right to access information about yourself can be found at: https://www.networkrail.co.uk/wp-content....

If you have any queries please contact me.

Please remember to quote your reference number in all future communications.

Kind regards

Isabella Battaglia | Information Officer
Freedom of Information | Legal & Corporate Services

Network Rail | 1st Floor | Willen Building | The Quadrant: MK Elder Gate | Milton Keynes | MK9 1EN
Email: [Network Rail request email]
Web: http://www.networkrail.co.uk/foi/

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FOI, Network Rail Limited

1 Attachment

OFFICIAL

Reference number: FOI2022/00393

Dear Gavin Chester

Please find attached our response to your recent information request.

If you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact me.

Warm Regards,

Isabella Battaglia | Information Officer
Freedom of Information | Legal & Corporate Services

Network Rail | 1st Floor | Willen Building | The Quadrant: MK Elder Gate | Milton Keynes | MK9 1EN
Email: [Network Rail request email]
Web: http://www.networkrail.co.uk/foi/

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