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Author Topic: How green is your railway?  (Read 562 times)
grahame
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« on: April 29, 2018, 08:31:35 pm »

From The Guardian

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Millions of trees are at risk in a secretive nationwide felling operation launched by Network Rail to end the nuisance of leaves and branches falling on the line.

Thousands of poplars, sycamores, limes, ash trees and horse chestnuts have already been chopped down across the country from Yorkshire to Dorset, and the scale of the potential destruction outlined in a Network Rail blueprint involves 10m trees growing within 60 metres of track.

The company has used drones to create an aerial map of its 40,000 hectares of railway and identified “hotspots” where mature trees might cause a problem at an unspecified time in the future. Engineers are operating in a targeted felling programme that dwarfs the operation by Sheffield city council that was halted in the face of huge public protest and condemnation from the environment secretary, Michael Gove.

Over the last fortnight, people around the country have woken to the sound of chainsaws and expressed concern at the lack of consultation and the scale of the destruction.

In one incident, police in Bournemouth were called by residents to complain that engineers were operating illegally as the felling is taking place during the nesting season.

At one west London station this week, an engineer felling five mature trees said they were carrying out a “pre-emptive strike” in case branches or leaves fell on the line in future.

Ray Walton witnessed hundreds of trees being chopped down along the length of track between Christchurch and Bournemouth. “It was total mass destruction, they obliterated every tree,” he said. “These trees were mature 30-foot-high trees which have been there for 50 years in some cases and never caused a problem.

“This went far beyond reasonable management of the trees. They took them all out, and destroyed the habitat for wildlife.”

Network Rail boasts of the green corridor along its tracks as a haven for wildlife, but in London, Dorset, the Midlands and Yorkshire thousands of trees and the vegetation beneath them are being cleared, leaving habitats devastated.

James Graham, from Manchester, said he saw thousands of trees being felled last week along a 10-mile section of the trans-Pennine route from Manchester to Leeds.

“I know they have to manage the trees, but this was excessive,” he said. “It looked like some kind of logging operation. I was sitting in the train and looking out at the countryside and all you could see was mile after mile of tree stumps and sawdust. They had felled trees which were a long way from the track. It was extreme.”

One wonders if Network Rail might be secretly happy about the actions of residents in Montpelier:

http://www.firstgreatwestern.info/coffeeshop/index.php?topic=19292.msg233528#msg233528
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broadgage
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« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2018, 12:34:47 pm »

Unless there is a truly exceptional reason to do otherwise, I support the removal or drastic cutting back of trees near the line.
The annual leaves on the line fiasco seems to be getting worse, partly no doubt due to tree growth. There have also been a number of accidents caused by trees or large branches obstructing the line.

Excessive vegetation also increases the fire risk, makes maintenance harder, and conceals trespassers, cable thieves and other criminals.

Time to "get on with it" without consultation or delay.

Those who think that railway lines are meant to be forests should be shown pictures of the same, or similar, routes from 50 years ago and more and observe what the trackside was like back in the good old days.
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martyjon
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« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2018, 01:04:07 pm »

Of course in the days of steam the platelayers would ask the firemen on slower freight trains to chuck a shovel or two of burning embers from the firebox onto the lineside at mile post x and that would burn off the lineside vegetation, but you cant ask the driver of a modern freight train to do similar with a bucket of diesel followed by a lighted match to burn off the vegetation but you could employ gangs spraying a glyphosate weedkiller to kill the vegetation instead but then that costs.
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devonexpress
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« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2018, 02:53:34 pm »

About time this happened really, im all for having trees and wildlife but, not next to railway lines which can cause damage to trains and disruption.
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Bmblbzzz
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« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2018, 08:06:31 pm »

I noticed yesterday there's been some serious strimming of the banks in the Flax Bourton cutting. I don't think there were ever any trees there though.
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ellendune
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« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2018, 08:49:26 pm »

.... but you could employ gangs spraying a glyphosate weedkiller to kill the vegetation instead but then that costs.

Except that there are big question marks now over glyphosate and human health.  I would expect there to be some major controls on its use in the not too distant future. 
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grahame
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« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2018, 08:58:49 pm »

An old story, but "Global warming makes trees grow at fastest rate for 200 years", making the keeping of. path for trains a very much bigger task than it used to be.
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TaplowGreen
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« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2018, 09:59:48 pm »

About time this happened really, im all for having trees and wildlife but, not next to railway lines which can cause damage to trains and disruption.

I suspect the trees and wildlife were there first?
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ellendune
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« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2018, 10:13:24 pm »

About time this happened really, im all for having trees and wildlife but, not next to railway lines which can cause damage to trains and disruption.

I suspect the trees and wildlife were there first?

Now that raises a interesting question - were they? 

The railway undoubtedly changed the habitat when it was built, so were the trees there before?  And what wildlife lived there?  Was it the same as now.  Have the neglected verges created a totally different habitant to that which predated the railway?  If it is overgrown then it is certainly different to the railway in the steam days as others have said. 
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TaplowGreen
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« Reply #9 on: April 30, 2018, 10:18:32 pm »

About time this happened really, im all for having trees and wildlife but, not next to railway lines which can cause damage to trains and disruption.

I suspect the trees and wildlife were there first?

Now that raises a interesting question - were they? 

The railway undoubtedly changed the habitat when it was built, so were the trees there before?  And what wildlife lived there?  Was it the same as now.  Have the neglected verges created a totally different habitant to that which predated the railway?  If it is overgrown then it is certainly different to the railway in the steam days as others have said. 

If it is neglected & overgrown, that is the fault of the railway for not keeping it under control. It is not an excuse for the wholesale obliteration of natural habitats with the inevitable consequences for the wildlife that inhabits them.
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johnneyw
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« Reply #10 on: April 30, 2018, 10:46:04 pm »

About time this happened really, im all for having trees and wildlife but, not next to railway lines which can cause damage to trains and disruption.

I suspect the trees and wildlife were there first?

A good case for hedge row offset planting on the borders of the embankments?
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martyjon
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« Reply #11 on: May 02, 2018, 08:05:33 am »

Unless there is a truly exceptional reason to do otherwise, I support the removal or drastic cutting back of trees near the line.

There is a stretch of the main London - South Wales line near my residence. Wapley Bridge vacinity. which has large trees just outside the lines boundary fence which if blown down by a north wind would crash onto the OHL, if not through it, and cause disruption for at least 24 hours whilst repairs take place. Whose responsibility is it to ensure those trees don't potentially foul the running lines, Network Rails or the LA's, the LA cut the grass on the road verge of the highway which parallels the rail line at this point.

There has been a lot of criticism about actions in Sheffield to fell trees along highways in that city, The Burgermasters of Bristol ought to act in a similar fashion. On the Staple Hill / Fishponds Roads arterial route into the city many tree trunks protrude into the gutters and where this happens a standard length Kerb edge has been cut to length to butt up against the trunk whilst a full length kerb edge laid tother side of the trunk to maintain the kerb line. In other places where the still growing trees girth has expanded like a muffin top the trunk is growing over and covering the kerb edge. Three or four years ago I was travelling into the city and the bus became entangled in a huge gridlocked traffic queue on the Fishponds Road when a verbal message from the bus control came over the radio to divert and as my stop would be missed by the diversion I got off the bus and started to walk to my destination. The cause of the gridlock became clear on that enforced walk, a bus had hit a tree that was leaning out over the bus lane and a bus had hit it shearing off the roof which was resting up against the back of the bus and six ambulances were in attendance together with numerous police and the fire service vehicles. In a later stroll past that site I noted that the road surface had been disturbed by the tree roots causing the road surface to rise then dip into a depression and then rise again this caused the bus to lurch to the right as the buses near side front wheel hit the first tree root hump than fall into the depression causing the bus then to lurch to the left this causing the roof of the double decker to sideways swipe the tree trunk and sustain the extensive damage to the bus. As far as I can see Bristol Council have done nothing to prevent such a similar occurrence but the buses no longer use that dedicated bus lane.

On another arterial road into the City Centre, the Wells Road (A37) there is a bus lane and riding front seat off side I noticed the driver was straddling the wide white boundary line on the right side of the bus lane and then I saw the reason, a tree leaning so far out into the road that presumably BCC had nailed or screwed onto the tree trunk a hatched Yellow and Black hazard plate about 50cm x 20cm lengthways down the tree trunk. I couldn't believe it and wouldn't if I hadn't seen it myself.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2018, 08:39:37 am by martyjon » Logged
ellendune
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« Reply #12 on: May 02, 2018, 02:03:32 pm »

As well as the leaves on the line and the potential hazards in high winds trees can also affect embankment stability (either way depending on the ground and the trees at a particular location see this presentation of a study done for LUL)

So a general policy of removal may have mixed benefits. 

An additional hazard on roadside trees is dangers to motorists in an accident if they hit a tree.  In former times trees were cut also back from rural roads to deter highwaymen!

Whose responsibility is it to ensure those trees don't potentially foul the running lines, Network Rails or the LA's, the LA cut the grass on the road verge of the highway which parallels the rail line at this point.

The landowner concerned is responsible but I think NR have been including them in their risk assessment and getting landowners to attend to any trees that are considered dangerous.  It will be easier for NR to make their case if they have sorted their own patch out first!

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stuving
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« Reply #13 on: May 10, 2018, 06:09:15 pm »

Announced by DfT:
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Rail Minister launches review of tree cutting alongside rail lines

Review of Network Rail’s tree cutting and vegetation management has been announced.

Published 10 May 2018
From:    Department for Transport and Jo Johnson MP

  •     tree felling to be suspended during current nesting season
  •     study will focus on safety, performance and minimising harm to wildlife
  •     Tree Council and RSPB are part of consultation

A review of Network Rail’s tree cutting and vegetation management has been announced by Rail Minister Jo Johnson.

The Rail Minister has asked Network Rail to suspend all felling during the current bird nesting season, except where safety critical.

The review will consider how Network Rail can best ensure the safety of our railways, while also protecting wildlife and preserving trees.

It will also build on areas of existing best practice in vegetation management within the organisation.

Network Rail is the fourth largest landowner in the UK and in the past 4 years has made significant progress in improving the management of trees alongside train tracks. But last year alone there were an estimated 1,500 incidents involving trees and bad weather which caused widespread travel disruption to rail passengers.

Jo Johnson, Rail Minister, said:

    How we manage our trees and vegetation — and protect the wildlife that lives in and around them - is an important issue.

    It is right that Network Rail are able to remove trees that could be dangerous, or impact on the reliability of services. In the last year, vegetation management and related incidents have cost the railway £100 million.

    But I also understand that cutting back trees can alarm people who enjoy these environments — and can especially raise concerns over the effect on birds during nesting season.

    That is why I am commissioning this review. In the meantime I have asked Network Rail to suspend all felling during the current nesting season, except where it is safety critical.

The review will look at whether Network Rail has the capacity and capability to manage vegetation in a way that minimises harm to wildlife. It will also look at whether staff need more training — for instance in identifying approaches to managing them that would be better than felling.

In launching it, the Department for Transport has consulted with the Tree Council and the RSPB. The review will report its findings to the minister in the summer.
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CyclingSid
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« Reply #14 on: May 10, 2018, 08:29:25 pm »

The presentation shared by ellendune is interesting as it shows an example of vegetation change over 60 years. More interesting is the section on geology and soil mechanics. The way trees affect the moisture regime in soils is often underrated, as shown taking a tree out in areas of shrink swell can have unwanted consequences. I have suggested to people in the past to leave trees in their gardens, they want more light to put up net curtains? The tree is removed and the next things is massive cracks appearing in the walls of the house. The drift geology of places like Reading are typical locations for shrink swell effects as any LA building inspector will probably tell you.
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