Bee-autiful habitats replace lost vegetation at the side of the railway in Norfolk: BugLife replanting scheme Anglia 2

Tuesday 18 May 2021

Bee-autiful habitats replace lost vegetation at the side of the railway in Norfolk

Region & Route:
Eastern: Anglia

Network Rail has worked with charity Buglife to create beautiful natural habitats for bees and other wildlife to replace vegetation that was removed for the safe running of rail services on the Cromer branch line.

Last year (2020) vegetation was reduced at Whitlingham junction on the Cromer branch line. Along this line, trees and vegetation had to be removed which posed a risk to the safe running of the railway.

The site has now been replanted to create a meadow with less intrusive species, in collaboration with charity Buglife. The plants will not only replace the lost vegetation but also provide a natural habitat that encourages bees. The site also falls into the Bee Line Map, a network of insect pathways to be restored to create wildflower rich habitat, which Buglife is trying to encourage.

The meadow consists of a 70/30% ratio of perennials to annuals, sown throughout the site, and the mixture of native British wildflowers and annuals and perennials will add colour whilst providing an important source of nectar and pollen for bees and other pollinating insects. The mixture of flowers is likely to change through the seasons and from year to year. This will not only attract a number of different species but will also create an environment that will be managed yearly in a sustainable way.

This is the first location in which Network Rail and Buglife have jointly delivered the project and now other sites are being surveyed for future planting.

Network Rail’s route engineer for the Anglia region, Liam Allen, said: “Vegetation can pose a risk to running the railway and while safety is paramount, we are committed to retaining, protecting and replanting where possible. Replanting is really important and plays a big part in helping the environments and sustain habitats.

“Working with Buglife has been a real benefit to ensure that correct species are planted in the correct location. We’ve also installed signs adjacent to the public footpath so lineside neighbours can see and be aware of what is happening with the plants and wildlife.”

Paul Hetherington at Buglife, said: “Since 1940 we’ve lost ninety seven percent of our flower rich meadows and hundreds of our pollinator species are in decline. At Buglife we have come up with a beautiful solution to the problem. B-Lines – a network of insect pathways along which we are restoring and creating wildflower rich habitat. Network Rail and RailScape have made an important first contribution to growing the B-lines in Norwich a pilot project that will grow into many miles of lineside pollinator rich habitat.”

In addition to Network Rail’s work with BugLife, train operator Greater Anglia has joined the WildEast movement, pledging over 6,400 square metres of rail station – the equivalent of five Olympic-sized swimming pools - land to help the region’s wildlife.

The new partnership will see all 56 station gardens across the rail network in East Anglia added to WildEast’s ‘map of dreams’ which is tracking the amount of land pledged to help meet WildEast’s target of giving 20% of the region back to nature by 2050.

More information about how Network Rail manages vegetation can be found at

More information about Buglife can be found here:


Notes to Editors

Photos from Left to right:

Paul Hetherington (BugLife), Liam Allen (Route Engineer), Stewart Cowen (Senior Asset Engineer), Andrew Hood (RailScape Arborist), Chloe Doltis [(HR Business Partner Anglia) 

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