West Highland Line Tree and Environmental Work

West Highland Line Tree and Environmental Work

Network Rail has carried out tree and vegetation management work on the West Highland Line. This work aims to reduce leaf fall volume and improve operational safety and performance.

This work aims to reduce leaf fall volume and improve operational safety and performance. We are working at this particular site as it is affected by vegetation encroachment issues.

Project Timeline

  1. 24 January 2022 - Work begins
  2. 21 March 2022 - Replanting begins
  3. 21 April 2022 - Project completed


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.

In autumn, leaves on the line can affect train wheel traction to the rail which affects breaking distances, acceleration, and interferes with our signalling systems. We are proactively managing the leaf fall issue by thinning out some leaf fall species and futureproofing against it with replanting of non-leaf fall species.

West Highland Line vegetation

What will change?

The new lineside environment will be routinely maintained to manage the regrowth, to ensure that the introduced biodiversity enhancement and off-setting measures continue to meet standards, which will ensure that the lineside corridor not only improves the railway performance, but also benefits the local wildlife and local community.

When felling and removal of trees had been completed, we re-planted the felled woodland areas with native trees and shrubs including hawthorn, holly, blackthorn and elder. The level of restocking carried out will allow the lineside to move from a species poor scrub to an area more beneficial to the surrounding wildlife.

To protect the newly planted trees and shrubs, ethical tree guards are being used instead of conventional plastic ones, as a more environmentally friendly option which reduces the impact on the environment

As well as re-planting, habitat piles have been created throughout the site to add to the existing natural features and to offer a number of sheltering opportunities for a variety of organisms, ranging from invertebrates to hedgehogs and nesting birds. In addition, 8 bat boxes and 8 bird boxes will be installed throughout the site to increase the availability of bat roosting and bird nesting sites.

By maintaining a large proportion of the existing natural corridor and creating additional features throughout, we aim to enhance the habitats and the biodiversity on site. Such environment will better support nesting and foraging birds, roosting bats, sheltering reptiles, small mammals and hedgehogs.

This project is part of a trial which will help us work towards achieving our targets of no net biodiversity loss by 2024 and net gain by 2035.

Habitat piles
Habitat piles