Can I Fly Drone Over Railroad Tracks? A Handy Guide


Are you planning on flying a drone over railroad tracks?

Before you take off, it’s important to know whether or not it’s legal to do so. The rules and regulations regarding drone flight can vary depending on the location, so it’s important to do your research beforehand.

In this article, I’ll answer the question: can you fly a drone over railroad tracks?

In short, the answer is NO! You cannot fly drones over railroad tracks due to safety and security concerns.

The laws around drone flight can be complex. So, I’ll also let you know about FAA regulations, security concerns, permissions needed, and penalties (if any) so that you’re fully informed.

Can I Fly Drone Over Railroad Tracks

FAA Regulations on Flying Drones Over Railroad Tracks

Due to the following FAA regulations, you are not allowed to fly drones over railroad tracks:

  1. The FAA has issued two final rules for unmanned aircraft, requiring them to operate a standard remote ID that provides in-flight drone identification and drone control station information for use by national security, law enforcement, and public safety agencies.
  2. Drones are prohibited from flying over moving vehicles, including trains, when operated outside a closed or restricted access site, as per Section 107.145 of the FAA regulations.
  3. Operations over moving vehicles are allowed only under specific conditions mentioned in §107.110 for Category 1 operations, §107.115 for Category 2 operations, §107.125 for Category 3 operations, and §107.140 for Category 4 operations.
  4. Flying a drone over train tracks may be illegal in some jurisdictions, as they are often considered sensitive private property, and flying over moving train carriages is also prohibited by laws restricting flight over moving vehicles.


Security Concerns

Flying a drone over railroad tracks comes with its own set of unique security concerns, which are worth considering before launching your drone. Here are some potential security concerns to keep in mind.

Security Concerns for Flying Drones Over Railroad Tracks

  1. Privacy issues: Flying drones over railroad tracks might capture unintended footage, causing an invasion of privacy for individuals working in the area or nearby properties.
  2. Accident risks: There is a risk of accidents if the drone loses control, collides with a train or other infrastructure, or drops debris onto the tracks, potentially causing damage or delays.
  3. Signal interference: Drones may interfere with railroad communication systems or signals, leading to potential operational disruptions or safety hazards.
  4. Trespassing laws: Operating drones near or over railroad tracks may violate trespassing laws or regulations, leading to fines and legal consequences for the drone operator.
  5. Security threats: Drones may be used for malicious purposes, such as surveillance or vandalism, posing potential security threats to the railroad infrastructure and personnel.

Permissions and Permits

Permissions and permits required for flying drones over railroad tracks involve adhering to specific conditions outlined by the relevant regulations. Operators must ensure that their drone operations comply with the stipulated categories (§107.110 for Category 1, §107.115 for Category 2, §107.125 for Category 3, or §107.140 for Category 4 operations).

Additionally, the drone must remain within or over a closed- or restricted-access site, with all individuals inside moving vehicles being notified of the drone’s presence. Sustained flight over moving vehicles is not permitted. For Category 4 operations, drones must possess an airworthiness certificate and adhere to the approved Flight Manual’s operating limitations.

It is essential to note that flying drones over train tracks or moving train carriages may be illegal in many areas, as they are considered sensitive private property and subject to stringent restrictions.

Penalties for Flying a Drone without Authorization

Penalties for flying drones without authorization over railroad tracks can vary depending on the specific circumstances and location. In general, flying a drone over critical infrastructure, such as railroads, can result in fines and potential legal action. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) enforces strict regulations on drone usage, and individuals caught violating these rules may face civil penalties up to $27,500 and criminal fines up to $250,000, or imprisonment depending on the severity of the offense. Additionally, operating a drone in restricted airspace or interfering with emergency response activities can result in further penalties. It is crucial to familiarize yourself with local, state, and federal regulations to avoid these consequences.

Also check:


1. Can I Fly Drones Over Railroad Tracks if I am not a Licensed Drone Pilot?

No, you cannot fly a drone over railroad tracks if you are not a licensed drone pilot. Flying a drone over railroad tracks is considered a critical infrastructure and is restricted in many areas. If you are not a licensed drone pilot, you may be violating federal and local regulations, which can result in fines or other penalties. Always check the local laws and guidelines before operating a drone, and if you would like to fly a drone over railroad tracks, consider obtaining proper certification and permissions in order to comply with the required regulations.

2. Who can Authorize the Use of Drones Over Railroad Tracks?

The authorization to fly drones over railroad tracks typically falls under the jurisdiction of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the respective railroad company. While the FAA provides the general regulations and guidelines for drone operations, obtaining permission from the railroad company is essential as they own and manage the property. It is crucial to adhere to both federal and private regulations to ensure safe and legal drone flights over railroad tracks.

3. Can the Police Fly Drones Over Railroad Tracks?

Yes, the police can fly drones over railroad tracks as long as they have the necessary permissions and follow the guidelines set by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and local laws. Law enforcement agencies often use drones for various purposes, such as monitoring public safety, crime scene investigation, and search and rescue operations. In these cases, flying a drone over railroad tracks can be essential for ensuring public safety and carrying out their duties effectively. However, they must still adhere to any restrictions and regulations in place to protect privacy and prevent interference with railroad operations.


In conclusion, before flying a drone over railroad tracks, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the appropriate resources and tools. Download the B4UFLY mobile app to easily find safe and legal flying locations.

Drone laws are subject to change, and information in this blog may become outdated; always consult official sources for the latest regulations.

And if you have a related query, kindly feel free to let me know in the comments.

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Peter Karanja is a licensed drone pilot from Kenya, freelance writer and drone enthusiast. He has been using drones for land survey, GIS, and photography for the past three years. Being a drone user, he loves writing about drone applications, safety tips for using drones, and the best ways to get the most out of a drone.

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