Government Tells Network Rail to Put Down the Chain Saws

By Gary Cutlack on at

Network Rail thought it was on to a winner with its tree maintenance programme, because it's had enough of people banging on about leaves on the line for the last 30 years and is taking steps to stop it happening any more -- by cutting down trees. Problem is, people actually like trees and are a bit horrified at how rapidly rail bosses appear to be cutting them down.

Hence the government's rail minister has ordered a halt to Network Rail's railside tree chopping initiative during this critical bird nesting period, while everyone has a proper think about the effect losing trees along 20,000 miles of train track may have on wildlife, and people imagine other solutions to the problem like, maybe, taping brooms to the front of trains?

Rail minister Jo Johnson said: "It is right that Network Rail are able to remove trees that could be dangerous, or impact on the reliability of services. In the last year, vegetation management and related incidents have cost the railway £100 million. But I also understand that cutting back trees can alarm people who enjoy these environments — and can especially raise concerns over the effect on birds during nesting season."

So the cutting is halted and the Department for Transport is talking to the Tree Council and the RSPB and will report back later in the summer on what can be done about leaves. An app can probably solve it, somehow. Spend £10m on an app. [GOV via BBC]