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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.

Faqs

The Frequently Asked Questions below may help to answer any questions you might have about this work.

If the answer to your query is not below, please use our contact form to share your question with the project team and they will come back to you.

  • Why are you undertaking this work here?

    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. 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.

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

  • Are you replanting what you are removing?

    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 finished, we replanted 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

  • What about the effect on wildlife?

    We have a team of ecologists who advise on the best way to reduce the impact of our work on wildlife and the environment. Ahead of work, ecologists have conducted surveys for breeding birds and other protected species, as well as identifying a number of trees to be retained for biodiversity reasons, such as trees with bat roost potential. Felling methodologies and access to and through the site have been identified to minimise the removal of ground vegetation and scrub.

    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 will be 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.


  • Will cutting down trees affect noise levels?

    In specific situations, trees can reduce noise. Belts of dense evergreen trees up to 50 feet deep and 30 feet tall, with dense shrubs at ground level can reduce some noise to a limit. However, the reality is that this very specific environment does not exist along our railway and what is in place does little to reduce noise. While we appreciate the feeling of disturbance can be heightened when a sound source becomes more visible, it is important that these works are carried out to ensure the safety of our neighbours, passengers and staff

  • Will you be working during the day, at night or both?

    Where possible we carry out work at times which are the least disruptive. We work on most sites during the day and only work at night where there is no other alternative. We will consider when it is the safest time for our teams to work, and when it causes the least disruption to train operators. We are always mindful of the impact our work may have and do what we can to minimise this. An element of noise is unfortunately unavoidable, and we want to apologise in advance if you are disturbed by the work.

  • What about the structural stability of the embankment once trees are removed?

    The Geotechnical Engineers at Network Rail are aware of the project and are involved in any Tree and Vegetation management works going on in the railway.

  • When will the work begin?

    Our scheduled work is outlined below:

    Dayshift Works

    Between 24th January and 25th March 2022 - Monday to Friday between 07:00 to 16:30, each day

    Nightshift Works

    Between 6th March and 11th March 2022 - Sunday to Thursday nights between 22:30 and 09:00, each night

    Between 20th March and 25th March 2022 - Sunday to Thursday nights between 22:30 and 09:00, each night