Network Rail suspends tree removal work after failing to consult residents

Two current cases have highlighted the strong concern often felt by the public to substantial tree felling by railway lines.

Image: Matt Grover
Image: Matt Grover

Network Rail has had to halt planned tree felling along a stretch of railway in Merseyside line after failing to consult residents on the proposals.

Following the intervention of a local councillor, the rail network operator issued a statement to residents informing that the plans are on hold until a full consultation is carried out.

The trees, between a stretch of railway and a road in the town of Formby, are on land not owned by Network Rail. 

A Network Rail representative said: "We have met with residents and given assurance that no work will take place without their permission as the land owner responsible for the trees in question.

"However work will continue to maintain or remove problematic trees within the Network Rail boundary as part of our commitment to maintain a safe and reliable railway."

It has undertaken to have an independent survey of the trees "to provide an informed, up-to-date assessment of the risk the trees pose to the railway", he added.

Meanwhile work has also been halted on tree removal from a railway cutting in Berkshire pending a site inspection. 

The 1.5km-long Sonning Cutting near Reading is more than 18m deep and under mature woodland. Network Rail owns the land and as there are no tree preservation orders on the site.

The operator has said the work forms part of "a wider programme of vegetation removal across the network to reduce maintenance and improve reliability", but acknowledged that residents may not have been adequately informed about the work.

In August a Government report called for a "significant reduction" in vegetation along railway lines in the wake of last winter's damaging storms, which caused widespread disruption to train services. 

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