Network Rail is trialling new battery-powered hedge trimmers and strimmers that are quieter, much lighter and friendlier to the environment than their petrol-powered counterparts.

The works delivery and signalling teams in the Wessex route have been testing the new equipment for about three months in and around Eastleigh, and they now are being trialled in the Portsmouth and Chessington areas to improve conditions for our neighbours.

Both the strimmers and hedge trimmers are much quieter compared with the petrol models, which is better for everyone who lives close to the railway, and being battery powered means the teams that clear vegetation no longer need to carry fuel, drip trays and spill kits for refuelling.

They are much lighter, which reduces the risk of employees suffering from manual handling strains and from hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) although this still requires to be monitored and usage times adhered to.

As technology has improved, battery operated portable tools are now capable of operating without the need for recharging for the length of time which staff work for. This is particularly important when staff work in locations where it’s not possible to recharge equipment.

So far the trial has been successful, the trimmers and strimmers are popular with the staff that have used them and a decision will be taken if they will be rolled out across the Wessex route which covers most of the south of England.

Chris Cornish, programme director for works delivery at Network Rail Wessex, said: “The strimmers and hedge trimmers are much quieter so they’re much better for our workforce, people who live close to the railway and wildlife.

“They’re lighter so they’re easier to carry and can be manoeuvred more easily, and as they are battery powered, they are more environmentally friendly. Overall, it’s a change which benefits everyone.”