Updated Network Rail drugs & alcohol standard - what you need to know

Updated Network Rail drugs & alcohol standard – what you need to know

The new Network Rail standard NR/L2/OHS/00120 for drug and alcohol testing is a merger of two standards: NR/L1/OHS/051 and NR/L2/OHS/00120.

The new standard has been created to provide one clear and concise drug and alcohol standard, and is intended to provide a thorough overview of drug and alcohol testing within Network Rail.

It details the principles of drug and alcohol testing, the methods in which testing will be conducted, consequences of failing a test, and details on how an individual can appeal.

What’s changed?

So what are the main changes, and what this will mean for companies working in the Network Rail supply chain?

The main changes are as follows:

  1. 20% of all safety critical workers (including contractors) will be subject to random drug testing each year (up from 5%).
    This means that if your company is working in the Network Rail Managed Infrastructure (NRMI), you will be required to randomly drug test at least 20% of your safety critical workforce each year.
  2. Drug tests can now be conducted using point of care tests (POCT) as well as back-to-lab tests. Only POCT devices registered with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) will be used to test for all drugs.
  3. Ketamine and tramadol have been added to the drug test panel required by Network Rail and propoxyphene has been removed.
  4. The cut-off level for cocaine testing has been decreased to 150ng/mL for screening and 100ng/mL for confirmation testing.

Why have ketamine and tramadol been added to the testing panel?

Ketamine and tramadol have been added to the testing panel as these drugs have become increasingly prevalent in society and can cause significant impairment when working in safety critical roles.

Tramadol is a strong, prescription-only pain medication that can cause drowsiness and affect cognitive function, and ketamine is a powerful anaesthetic that may cause hallucinations and disorientation.

Propoxyphene has been removed from the testing panel as its use is rare in the UK.

More information on the changes

For more information about the changes, please visit the Network Rail information pages below:



Network Rail drug and alcohol testing you can trust

Any drug and alcohol testing for Network Rail must be carried out by a qualified agent of a medical service supplier, named in Network Rail’s licensed register under the rail industry supplier qualification scheme (RISQS). 

AlphaBiolabs is qualified by audit via the RISQS scheme to provide Network Rail drug and alcohol testing for all the following situations:

  • Pre-appointment
  • Unannounced
  • For-cause
  • Periodic
  • Post-incident
  • Pre-sponsorship
  • Results uploaded to Network Rail Sentinel system

So if you specify Network Rail when booking any POCT or laboratory test with AlphaBiolabs, you can be assured the test will be compliant with the updated Network Rail standards.

Where can I get drug and alcohol testing for my business?

As a UK-leading drug and alcohol testing laboratory, AlphaBiolabs works with businesses of all sizes and across all sectors, providing a broad range of drug and alcohol testing services for the workplace.

Plus, with our nationwide network of sample collectors, you can trust us to collect your samples quickly and efficiently.

We also offer awareness training, assistance with policy review and creation, and sample collection training, so you can collect your own samples on site if needed.

To learn more, call our friendly, knowledgeable workplace team today on 0333 600 1300 or email workplace@alphabiolabs.com to discuss a bespoke solution for your business.

Drug and Alcohol testing for the Railway Industry

Get in touch to discuss a bespoke testing solution for your business.