Lineside replanting trial to improve biodiversity on the West Highland Line - CILT(UK)
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LATEST NEWS

Lineside replanting trial to improve biodiversity on the West Highland Line

25 January 2022/Categories: CILT, Industry News, Rail


Network Rail will shortly begin work to remove trees and vegetation on the West Highland Line between Craigendoran and Helensburgh Upper as part of a new trial project to improve lineside biodiversity.

When the felling and removal of trees is complete, the area will be replanted with native trees and shrubs including Holly, Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Rowan, Hazel and Elder.

The replanting will benefit the surrounding wildlife and is part of a trial approach which, if successful, will help Network Rail work towards targets which will see no net-loss of biodiversity by 2024 with an overall net-gain by 2035.

As well as replanting, habitat piles will be created throughout the site to enhance the already present natural features and bat and bird boxes will be installed throughout the site.

As a first step, from January 24 for approximately 10 weeks, all woody vegetation within a minimum of four-metres of the track will be cleared, then any trees that could strike the line if they fell will be pruned or cut-down to remove the risk to the railway. 

Cutting of trees and vegetation across this 1.5-mile section of railway is needed to help keep passengers safe and improve performance by reducing the impact of leaf-fall.

Unmanaged vegetation can pose a serious risk to rail safety as trees can fall onto the line during bad weather or, when overgrown, branches and foliage can obscure signals from a driver’s view.

Ahead of work, surveys have been carried out for breeding birds and other protected species as well as to identify a number of trees to be retained for biodiversity reasons, such as those with bat roost potential. 

Kirsty Armstrong, Network Rail project manager, said: “We look after thousands of miles of railway embankments and constantly work to manage trees and vegetation so that what grows lineside is safe and does not cause delays to trains.

“Our new approach will compensate for what is removed through managed replanting and transform low value land into areas that will become species-rich, but also safe for the operation of services."

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