Sharing our railway with wildlife

Our estate, which is about 52,000 hectares in size, is also used by many different types of wildlife.

Often referred to as the ‘green corridor’, the land around the railway is home to a richly diverse variety of species. We do everything we can to protect it.

The ‘green corridor’ is relatively undisturbed thanks to a lack of public access. For example, common lizards, grass snakes, deer and water vole make their homes close to the railway in East Anglia, while slow worms have been spotted in the south-west of England. Pipistrelle bats also often live on the railway, roosting in trees, tunnels and bridges.

Joined-up approach to conservation

We are dedicated to minimising our impact on wildlife. Our in-house ecologists work alongside external experts to carry out detailed surveys helping us to identify the animals, insects and plants in the area that might be affected by our railway maintenance and upgrade work.

This means we can plan the best time of year to do the work – such as by avoiding breeding seasons – and get the licences and permission to work where protected species are present, making provision to minimise any impact.

We work closely with national conservation groups, natural environment regulators and authorities in England, Scotland and Wales, frequently consulting them before starting work, and calling on their experts when needed.

Educating our workforce

It’s our trackside workers who come face to face with wildlife most often. We give them the training they need to help identify the wildlife they might come across so they can record sightings and then report to one of our environmental specialists. Our in-house ecologists also provide identification checklists and awareness briefings.

The video below, about identifying the habitats of Great Crested Newts, is part of a series provided for railway workers by the Track Safety Alliance, an industry-wide group created to develop and share best practice, largely focused on improving the health, safety and wellbeing of track workers.

Vegetation management

How we work sensitively with nature to maintain a safe, reliable railway.

Major clearance

How we take care in ensuring lineside clearances are handled correctly and sensitively.