Network Rail is inviting residents to find out more about upcoming vegetation work on the railway between Dutton and Warrington Bank Quay.
Cutting vegetation back a safe distance from the tracks allows train drivers to clearly see signals – the traffic lights of the railway – and to spot potential hazards as soon as possible.
Last year across Britain, around 1,000 trains collided with fallen trees or large branches – a number Network Rail is keen to reduce.
Network Rail staff will be on hand at two drop-in events to explain why this work is so important and answer any questions. The sessions will take place at:
– Tuesday 30 January 2018, 4-6pm: Preston Brook Village Hall, Sandy Lane, Preston Brook, Runcorn, WA7 3AW – Thursday 1 February 2018, 4-6pm: The Milner Institute, Runcorn Road, Moore, WA4 6TZ
A spokesperson for Network Rail said: “Vegetation management is an essential part of railway maintenance and this work is crucial to keeping both trains and passengers safe on the network.
“We encourage our lineside neighbours to come along to understand the work we are doing and any impact it will have on them.
“Our project team will be there to answer any questions from residents and address any concerns they may have.”
The majority of work will take place during daytime hours between Monday and Friday from February 2018 until May 2018. Some work will be required to take place at night when train services are not in operation and Network Rail will write to households affected by this.
In 2013 incidents caused by vegetation cost the railway industry £100m. Storm, rain and wind events resulted in approximately 1,500 incidents in 2013-14 where trees caused disruption to the network.
With 20,000 miles of track and an estimated 2.5 million trees growing on the lineside, managing vegetation on the railway is not just a full-time job but one of our most important safety issues. Our climate, variety of trees and train frequency mean that the railway in Great Britain faces more serious challenges than most other countries.
Lineside vegetation can obscure signals, get blown onto the tracks, or grow to an extent where our staff do not have a safe place to wait whilst trains pass.
We will be removing lineside trees and plants which pose a significant safety or performance risk. Vegetation management also helps to prevent leaves falling on the track which can hamper train acceleration and braking.
Areas are assessed on a case-by-case basis, however all sites will see a clear six-metre wide corridor created (where available) on either side of the track, along with the removal of leaf fall species (for example ash and sycamore) and any trees tall enough to fall into the path of a train or onto other parts of the railway infrastructure.
Before works start Network Rail or our representatives carry out an ecological survey. Any protected species or nesting birds are identified and appropriate methods of working are put into place. Although the works do not require the submission of a planning application, where appropriate we will notify your local authority and any relevant statutory bodies.
To undertake these works, we will use a variety of equipment that can include chainsaws, flail machines, chipping machines or handsaws. Where suitable, logs and branches will either be left to create a safe habitat for wildlife; chipped and spread evenly; or will be completely removed from site.
Works will often be required to take place when trains are not running, but every effort is made to keep controllable noise to a minimum and our staff are briefed on working responsibly in the local community.
Network Rail is very aware of the impact removing trees and vegetation can have on local communities. We particularly know that this can come as a something of a shock for people who have become accustomed to lines of trees or hedges near their homes or workplaces. However, for the safety of our passengers and employees we have no option but to take action to reduce the risk posed in order to operate a safe and reliable railway.