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How we’re working with nature

We work collaboratively to consider the needs of wildlife on our land – here are some of the projects we’ve undertaken

European and nationally protected species often call the railway home.

That’s why we take care to look out for these special lineside neighbours – working with organisations across Britain including Scottish Natural Heritage, Natural Resources Wales and Natural England to ensure that any work we carry out as part of our Railway Upgrade Plan takes into account the impact on wildlife.

Nesting willow tits

Working with Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, we’re trialling an approach at Potteric Carr near Doncaster that will create nesting areas for the willow tit. Birch trees that would typically be removed are being cut to six to eight feet instead, allowing them to rot down and become suitable habitat.

Signalling relay room bat house

As part of a resignalling project in Farnham, Surrey, we converted an old relay room into a bat house in collaboration with engineering company Dyer & Butler. The project reused materials from Ash Vale signal box, which was next to the relay room and was demolished as part of the scheme.

Monitoring of this bat house has been done with New Leaf Ecology, acting on behalf of Surrey Bat Group. A bat dropping was found there during the visit in September 2016, showing evidence of use.

Habitat for rare butterfly

The biggest population of the large blue butterfly in Northern Europe is along a railway line in Somerset, following a scheme where we joined with conservation organisations including the National Trust and Wildlife Trusts to create new habitats.

Our Infrastructure Projects Great Western and Crossrail teams and Western route are partnering up with Butterfly Conservation to not only protect the internationally rare large blue butterfly, but also enhance our green corridors for a whole suite of nationally important butterflies and moths.

Find out more about our work creating habitat for the large blue butterfly on page 4 of Natural England's intriguing case story: A Butterfly that Lives Underground? 

Breeding Natterjack toads

In Flintshire, Wales, we're creating breeding areas for the rare Natterjack toad, relocating 100 tadpoles to the site, helping to boost the local Natterjack toad population. The site will be monitored and managed by a local ecologist from the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust.

Great-crested newts

Before work started on the Norton Bridge flyover along the West Coast Mainline in Staffordshire, together with our contractors we moved great-crested newts from the site first to a temporary pool and then to a special reserve built for them at nearby Shallowford.

 

Case study: Railway upgrade between Oxford and Bedford

East West Rail aims to improve east-west connectivity through improved public transport.

We’ve been working with ecologists on an extensive study into what impact the upgrade will have particularly on a rare bat species that roosts along the route.

Our environmental experts have been tagging and trapping bats along the project route to understand whether or not some rare Bechstein’s bats – known to roost in a specific area near Aylesbury – are also present in other areas.

This important study will help the East West Rail engineering team understand how the project might affect bats and make sure that their population continues to thrive in the area.