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Vegetation management

Our work clearing vegetation by the railway helps to keep trains running safely and on time

Managing the trees, shrubs and plants alongside our railway to ensure the safety of passengers and railway workers is essential, and it’s something we plan carefully and with consideration.


We receive many enquiries about our vegetation work and know that the decisions we take are important, especially for our lineside neighbours – anyone who lives, or runs a business, within 500 metres of the railway.

More than 10 million trees growing next to the railway have been catalogued as part of a sophisticated aerial survey covering 20,000 miles of Britain’s track. The database provides engineers with a heat map indicating higher priority “problem trees” or overhanging tree canopies which need attention before they fall onto the railway and cause delays to train journeys. Part of the Offering Rail Better Information Service programme (ORBIS), the database, now completed and deployed across the company, will revolutionise the way lineside engineers target their work, as well as save the company time and money.

We understand that cutting back vegetation can be unsettling for those who live nearby and have grown used to the trees or hedges in the local area.

That’s why our vegetation management process involves detailed assessment, public consultation and a lot of thought. We focus on the best way of cultivating a respectful balance between Britain’s lineside biodiversity and ensuring a safe, efficient railway.

How we keep lineside neighbours involved in our vegetation clearance work

What is vegetation management?

Vegetation management is a coordinated effort between different professionals within our teams: on a regular basis maintenance teams cut back plants that are growing too close to the trains, whereas teams including specialist tree workers will carry out larger scale felling work.

You can read a detailed description of vegetation management here

Careful planning

Our programme of management is planned well before work begins on site – sometimes years in advance – for the least disruption to lineside neighbours and wildlife.