Detailed examination of Royal Border Bridge

Case Study

Detailed examination of Royal Border Bridge


As a Network Rail framework holder, Cyberhawk recently completed a detailed examination viaduct inspection campaign which included an inspection of the iconic Royal Border Bridge.


Royal Border Bridge, a Grade I listed railway viaduct, spans the River Tweed in Northumberland, England and was built between 1847 and 1850. The bridge is 659 metres (2,162 ft) long and has 28 arches, each of which span 18 metres (60 ft).


Using our UAV inspection solution, which has been tailored specifically for viaducts, our team was able to conduct a safe, quick and cost-effective inspection, providing detailed engineering quality images to allow defect analysis, as well as orthophotos and 3D point cloud models.


For a project of this scale and complexity, we mobilised a team of two – a highly trained UAV pilot and an experienced inspection engineer. Limited flying positions and a lack of GPS signal underneath the soffits also meant a highly experienced team was needed.


It took less than two weeks for us to conduct the inspection using drones – half the time that traditional access methods, such as rope access, would take. UAV inspection also proved to be inherently safer as no working at height, track side or through the night was required. Furthermore, by eliminating the need for track possessions, there was no disruption to scheduling.


Importantly, the quality of the resulting visual data was far better than what had been obtained previously. Network Rail sought extremely high quality, detailed data which would be used in a variety of formats and for different purposes, and wanted this data collected in a single mobilisation.


When collecting data using traditional methods of inspection, views can be limited to where the technician can see and reach. As well as our high definition images, which delivered a 360 degree view showing all defects, we also provided Network Rail with 2D elevations, 3D models and cloud point surveys. This avoided the need for a separate dimensional survey.


The inspection was deemed a great success and Network Rail is already looking at how to integrate UAVs into its inspection procedures in the future.

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