Network Rail has launched a tree and vegetation management project, operating on the line between Evanton and Invergordon in the Scottish Highlands, with work taking place overnight.
The next works will take place between June and September, seeing workers operate along an 8-mile stretch of the Far North line. The planned work will aim to clear trees and vegetation from adjacent lands within the boundaries of the railway line, which will ensure passenger safety and on-time trains while reducing risk to neighbors along the way.
From June 13, a team will work day and night to carry out the necessary clearances, lasting approximately 16 weeks to clear a 3 meter strip of the outer rail to the limit. Weeding will also be imperative as workers will have to deal with noxious and invasive non-native weeds in the rail corridor.
Tree maintenance could slow down proceedings as any heritage, specimen landscape trees will need to be carefully considered for felling on a case-by-case basis and retained, if safe to do so. Other trees within a rail drop will be cut or completely removed to leave tree cover that will not disturb the natural aesthetics around the line.
Kirsty Armstrong, Scheme project manager for vegetation clearing works, said:
“Network Rail manages thousands of miles of trees and vegetation along the track to ensure that anything growing along the lines is safe and does not cause delays to trains.
“Through the management of wayside trees and vegetation, Network Rail aims to protect the safety of the operational railway line. This ensures the safety of passengers and reduces the risks for neighbors at the edge of the line.
“Elements of this work are inevitably done at night for safety reasons; however, teams are always aware of the impact their work can have and do what they can to minimize it. We would like to apologize in advance if anyone is disturbed by the works
Prior to the start of this work, extensive environmental studies were carried out in the area, as well as inspections of breeding birds and other protected species. The environmental impacts of these types of projects can be damaging, which is why Network Rail has worked alongside environmentalists to minimize this potentially damaging work.
Input from local communities is important when carrying out projects such as these to ensure public support and for companies to understand the least intrusive forms of carrying out the necessary work. With this in mind, people living closest to the line have been notified of the work by letter with an FAQ section that anticipates and addresses many of the concerns people have raised.
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