Network Rail launches new railway hedge planting trial during National Tree Week: Members of the local Hadley Wood community, Tree Council and Network Rail at tree planting

Wednesday 28 Nov 2018

Network Rail launches new railway hedge planting trial during National Tree Week

Region & Route:
| Eastern

In partnership with The Tree Council and members of both the Hadley Wood Association and Hadley Wood Rail User Group, Network Rail’s London North Eastern and East Midlands route (LNE & EM) has launched a trial to reinvigorate lineside vegetation management and establish hedgerows along Britain’s modern railway.

Hedges have played an historic role in the life of the railway ever since they were first planted alongside tracks in the 1840s to prevent livestock affecting trains. As part of the response to widespread removal of vegetation on the banks of the cutting around Hadley Wood Station, Network Rail has engaged with the local community and with advice from The Tree Council will begin the hedge planting trial.

The hedgerows, which will become large and flower rich, growing to up to three metres in height, will provide visual beauty and an important habitat for nesting birds and other wildlife. They will be monitored over five years to see which method of establishment achieves the best results in terms of community appeal, wildlife habitat, safety and cost.

Rob McIntosh, route managing director for Network Rail’s LNE & EM route, said: “The competing challenges we face in managing vegetation near the railway are well known; safety for passengers, maintaining habitat for wildlife and the impact on our neighbours. But with this trial - in partnership with the Hadley Wood community - we are confident that we will find a solution and return an area once rich in wildlife to one of significance for the future.”          

The start of the trial on 28 November 2018 takes place during National Tree Week and on the day of publication of the Varley report which was commissioned by the Department for Transport to review Network Rail’s vegetation management.

Robert Wilson, Chairman of the Hadley Wood Association, said: “Hadley Wood welcomes Network Rail’s positive and public commitment to proportionate trackside habitat management and a substantial and diverse replanting programme. The Hadley Wood Trial represents one key result of the partnership between Network Rail and the community, with The Tree Council as our critical friend and inspiration, with everyone enthusiastically accepting the proposal that Hadley Wood be the site of a new hedgerow replanting trial. “

Sara Lom, chief executive of The Tree Council, said: “Britain’s network of hedges forms the perfect wildlife corridor - they connect landscapes and allow nature to thrive, as well as tackling air and noise pollution and keeping our communities attractive and green. The results of this hedge planting trial will offer valuable data on how to establish thriving hedgerows on the UK’s rail-side for the benefit of local communities and wildlife.”

Two 180-metre long by 2-metre wide hedgerows will be created along the edge of Hadley Wood Station's western bank alongside the National Cycle Path, with help from the local community.

Both hedgerows will be divided into three 60-metre sections to test different establishment techniques. One area will be planted with rows of small whips (young trees less than 0.5m in height), one will be seeded with UK-sourced hedgerow seeds and one area will be left to regenerate naturally.

The finished hedges will comprise a mix of hawthorn, blackthorn, field maple, dog-rose and wayfaring trees.

At the same time as helping create the trial hedgerow, local Hadley Wood school children and residents will be invited to plant 30 ornamental trees, including field maples, rowans, hazel, silver birch and crab apple to add seasonal colour and interest for travellers and nectar for pollinators.

The launch of the Hadley Wood trial follows recent engagement with the Hadley Wood community following excessive vegetation management around the station earlier this year, as part of the programme to improve the safety and performance of the railway served by Thameslink services. The LNE & EM route has also used this to produce new guidelines for vegetation management across its 2000 miles of railway.

For the planting on 28 November, Network Rail will be providing a safe environment to access the western bank of Hadley Wood Station to ensure the invited school children and residents can help in the start of planting the new hedgerows and trees.



Notes to Editors

  • The event will take place at Hadley Wood Station on Wednesday 28 November from 11.00 to 14.00
  • There will be opportunities for media interviews and a photo call on site on the West Embankment from 11.00 to 12.00 including attendance by the Rail Minister
  • For media enquiries please contact Network Rail’s LNE & EM press office on 01904 383180

The Tree Council (founded in 1973) is one of the UK’s leading charities for trees, promoting their importance in a changing environment and working in partnership with communities, organisations and government to make trees matter to everyone. As the coalition body for a diverse range of organisations, the Council focuses on getting more trees, of the right kind, in the right places; better care for all trees of all ages and inspiring effective action for trees.

The charity works with its national network of volunteer Tree Wardens and member organisations to engage people in biodiversity and environmental issues and to promote tree planting and conservation in town and country. A major part of this is achieved through its annual Community Action Programme which includes Walk in the Woods month, Seed Gathering Season and National Tree Week (celebrated every year since March 1975), as well as through supporting groups organising local events. It also offers a grants programme for UK schools and communities to plant trees, orchards and hedgerows and create woodland habitats.

National Tree Week is the UK's largest annual tree celebration, marking the start of the winter tree planting season (November to March each year). The Tree Council, one of the UK’s leading charities for trees, first established National Tree Week in March 1975 in response to the national replanting required after the outbreak of Dutch Elm disease.

National Tree Week is a great chance for communities to do something positive for their local treescape. Each year, The Tree Council's member organisations such as voluntary bodies and local authorities, up to 200 schools and community groups, their 6,000 strong network of volunteer Tree Wardens and many others, support the initiative by setting up fun, worthwhile and accessible events, inspiring upward of a quarter of a million people to get their hands dirty and together plant trees.  Registered charity number 279000.

Hadley Wood Rail User Group is a campaigning organisation focussed on strategic rail transport issues as they affect Hadley Wood.  It was founded in 2015 to represent the interests of all local rail users to the railway industry and is affiliated to Railfuture, the UK's leading independent organisation campaigning for better rail services, winning three national awards in 2017.  It jointly led the Treegate Campaign and has also successfully worked with GTR to achieve step free access to the station and commitment to a much-improved train service. Contact

Hadley Wood Association represents the community to promote and protect its interests including environmental, with a centre hosting educational and recreational activities, and manages substantial woods and open spaces around the East Coast mainline cutting through the heart of Hadley Wood with its famous two tunnels. The wide railway cuttings are part of our Conservation Area and a designated wildlife corridor. HWA has run the “Treegate” campaign in protest to Network Rail to stop extreme devegetation works through the area, in combination with Hadley Wood Rail User Group and Enfield Council. We then worked with them and Tree Council to establish better a vegetation management model and real communication with lineside neighbours to the benefit of all communities on the Route. See HWA website including Treegate and Railway. Contact

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