UK-based drone supplier Heliguy has secured a nationwide contract from British infrastructure manager Network Rail through a competitive tender process.

The contract was awarded as part of an Unmanned Aircraft Services (UAS) framework agreement, valuing up to £2.6m.

Heliguy will be responsible for the supply, maintenance and repair of Network Rail’s drones. Additionally, the company will provide training to the infrastructure manager’s in-house pilots.

Network Rail uses drones to carry railway track inspections and other maintenance checks across the network.

The contract with Heliguy is for three years, with the option to extend it to five years.

Heliguy business development manager Ruairi Hardman said: “We are extremely proud to have been awarded a national framework agreement with Network Rail for the provision of UAS/drone equipment, maintenance, servicing, repairs and training.

“This contract award with Network Rail is the largest of its type in the UK and as such is a testament to our ability to deliver such projects at this level.”

As a part of the agreement, Heliguy will deliver an automated maintenance system to Network Rail that will be equipped with a built-in mechanism for unplanned repairs and maintenance.

Loan aircraft and ancillary equipment will be provided during the contract period.

The Network Rail UAS framework contract encompasses using drones for bridge surveys, embankment checks, overhead line equipment inspections and post-incident condition examinations.

Network Rail plans to use drones in regular business operations to improve efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

Currently, Network Rail has 24 drones, including a range of DJI aircraft. It plans to further strengthen its fleet and team of drone pilots.