Friday 19 Feb 2016
Drop-in event to present plans of vegetation management works at Hemel Hempstead
- London North Western
Network Rail is inviting Hemel Hempstead residents to an information event to find out more about upcoming railway vegetation work.
The vegetation management work, scheduled for next month between Aspley and Bourne End, is required to keep train passengers and staff safe.
Last year around 1,000 trains collided with fallen trees or large branches - a number Network Rail is keen to reduce. Each year there are many more instances of trees and branches blocking or closing lines, disrupting train passengers’ journeys.
Cutting foliage back a safe distance from the tracks enables train drivers to clearly see signals - the traffic lights of the railway - and to spot potential hazards as soon as possible.
At the event - on Tuesday 23 February between 4pm and 7pm at Nash Mills Village Hall - Network Rail staff will be on hand to explain why this work is so important for railway safety and how they will tackle the challenge in this area.
A spokesperson for Network Rail said: “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.
“Vegetation management is an essential part of railway maintenance and this work is crucial to keeping both trains and passengers safe on the network.”
Our work has been split into two phases. Phase one is where our teams are currently working, this is the rural area between Hemel Hempstead station and Little Heath Lane. The second phase will consist of moving south covering the area between Hemel Hempstead station and Apsley station.
The second phase will take place during the day, Monday to Friday, this will commence from Monday 14 March 2016 to Friday 28 October 2016 and will be completed between the hours of 07:30 and 16:30
For further information contact Network Rail’s national helpline on 03457 114 141.
Notes to editors:
Vegetation removal – the facts
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.
About Network Rail
Network Rail owns, manages and develops Britain's railway - the 20,000 miles of track, 40,000 bridges and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations (the largest of which we also run). In partnership with train operators we help people take more than 1.65bn journeys by rail every year and move hundreds of millions of tonnes of freight, saving almost 8m lorry journeys. We employ 36,000 people across Britain and work round-the-clock, each and every day, to provide a safe, reliable railway.
About the Railway Upgrade Plan
The Railway Upgrade Plan is Network Rail's investment plan for Britain's railways. It makes up two-thirds of Network Rail's £40bn spending priorities for the five years to 2019 and represents the biggest sustained programme of rail modernisation since the Victoria era. It is designed to provide more capacity, relieve crowding and respond to the tremendous growth Britain's railways continue to experience; passenger numbers have doubled in the past 20 years and are set to double again over the next 25 years - so we need to continue to invest in building a bigger, better railway. For passengers, that means:
- longer, faster more frequent trains;
- better, more reliable infrastructure; and
- better facilities for passengers, especially at stations.