Network Rail is carrying out vital work to remove trees and plants close to the railway in Market Harborough, whilst working to protect the environment and increase the amount of biodiversity in the area, ahead of plans to electrify the line.
Detailed assessments of the area have taken place and from today (22 Feb) until 16 April, vegetation work will talk place to clear enough space and allow quicker, more reliable services to run safely on this section of the line.
Network Rail has pledged to increase the volume of biodiversity and is working to balance the requirement to remove vegetation near the tracks with work to create new habitats and protect the environment for future generations.
During the work at Market Harborough, some of the larger trees that need to be removed will be used to create log piles, which are perfect habitats for reptiles. Wildflower seed mixes will also be scattered with bird and bat boxes being installed on land near this segment of the railway.
This work is being managed sustainably and controls are in place to shield all wildlife. At the start of each day, workers will check for bird nests, and if any are found, exclusion zones will be placed around the nest, with no work taking place in that section. Ecologists will also be on hand for support when needed.
Teams will also be removing trees, shrubs and plants which are within 6.5 metres from the railway. This is the national minimum requirement that needs to be cleared on each side of an electrified line. Trees that are between 6.5 metres from the track and the railway boundary fence will only be removed if the work is essential for the safety of passengers and workers.
Trees that are too close to the railway could fall onto the overhead wires, causing damage to the equipment and disruption to services. If they are not cut back, trees can also cover up signals, block visibility for train drivers or fall onto the track.
Gavin Crook, the Principal Programme Sponsor for Network Rail, said: “We need to remove the trees which are close to the railway in Market Harborough as part of the preparation work to enable the line to be electrified, allowing faster, more reliable services to run safely.
“We understand how important the trees are for people in the community and we have measures in place following ecological surveys to protect the environment. The work is vital for the safety of our workers and passengers as we invest for the future of passengers and freight users along the Midland Main Line.”
Images: Network Rail