Forestry work from Network Rail

Forestry is the name, collaboration is the game

The Scottish Government agency Forestry and Land Scotland, accompanied by Network Rail have met to discuss collaborative work on innovating their standards in regard to risk and challenges on neighbouring land. The outcome of this meeting could lead to financial savings for the UK taxpayer, whilst also improving the resilience and reliability of the rail network.

The two landowning organisations met at Forestry and Land Scotland’s Dunkeld base to hear from a range of speakers and to see first-hand different sites where mutual interest is opening up the potential of joint working.

The discussion broached the day-to-day operational matters such as the overall track access, supervision, and removal of dead or diseased trees adjacent to operational railway. Following these issues being addressed, the meeting covered the integration of work programmes that would be used to deal with wider issues such as integrated drainage to improve water management, reducing the risk of slope failure and rock fall.

Greater collaboration between the aforementioned parties could potentially lead to a plethora of positive outcomes which would see a more unified front between the operator and government agency. Success within these plans will generate savings for the taxpayer, a safer railway with more efficient services and an effective management of the adjacent forestry.

The effective implementation of these works could offer an enhancement to the overall passenger experience along the railways, as it would improve the key views through strategic planning and management of trees beyond the railway corridor.

Jonathan Callis, senior asset engineer for Network Rail Scotland commented:

“Where we have two large landowners with so many areas of mutual interest, there is real value in taking a step back from the day-to-day interaction to look at what we can be doing better, different, or more efficiently.

“Gaining an insight into the other’s operational challenges and areas of experience and expertise will lay the foundations for closer working relationships that will help avoid incidents and costs and to better utilise resources.”

Dave Pool, FLS’ National Utilities Manager, said.

“It was really useful to meet with the teams at Network Rail to discuss our common tasks and common interests.

“We have much we can share in terms of knowledge and expertise, and it was good to note that safe working practices are a priority for both organisations.

“There is clearly a lot of benefit to be had from working together. For example, Network Rail teams might use our forest road network to get to remote rural locations in emergencies, or to deliver or remove materials, and we might be able to find ways to safely access valuable crops that are close to railway lines.

“The discussions have been very informative for both organisations and seeing things from the railway perspective will certainly help to inform our future planning processes and forestry operations.”

With further meetings planned in different regions across Scotland, it is hoped that a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) can be developed to clearly define and agree roles and responsibilities across the operational scope of both organisations.

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