Vegetation project delivers performance improvements in Fife

A project to clear vegetation near Dalgety Bay station has helped improve performance on Scotland’s Railway.

The station previously had a poor record for autumn performance, with leaves on the line causing hours’ worth of service delays throughout the season.

Analysis has shown that in autumn 2021/22 - the one before work began - the area had 8943 minutes’ worth of delays. However, in 2022/2023, after the work had been completed, delays reduced by almost half (46%).

Leaves on the line can break down into a slippery surface that can cause train wheels to lose grip – making it harder for them to stop quickly. This can cause trains to overshoot signals or platforms and affect signalling systems – making it harder to track where trains are on the network.

Addressing this issue makes the railway more resilient and means timetables are more reliable for passengers.

Kirsty Armstrong, scheme project manager for tree and vegetation management work, said: “We manage thousands of miles of trees and vegetation along the railway to try to make sure that everything that grows near the lineside is safe and doesn’t cause delays to trains.

“While it is only one year’s data, early signs are that the project has been a huge success and that passengers are benefiting from autumn delays being cut by more than half.”

The project saw native trees and shrubs appropriate to the lineside environment planted in compensation. These will be maintained for five years to manage the regrowth of woodland, improve biodiversity and to offset the impact of the work on the local area.

Notes to Editors

Several environmental measures were implemented at Dalgety Bay to compensate for the trees which were cut from land adjacent to the railway.

These measures included;

  • Retaining as many trees as possible which contained feature suitable for roosting bats and nesting birds to maintain the existing wildlife corridor.
  • 17 bat and 6 bird boxes installed throughout the site to supplement the existing natural features.
  • Cuts and incisions were added to some of the retained large stumps and monoliths to create conditions suitable for wood decay fungi, invertebrates and bats.
  • Biodegradable tree shelters, mulch mats and bamboo pegs have been used instead of plastic
  • Multiple habitat piles were created from felled materials to support invertebrates, small mammals, including hedgehogs, and nesting birds. These were signposted with plastic-free signs to protect them from being cleared in future maintenance activity.