In partnership with The Tree Council and members of both the Hadley Wood Association and Hadley Wood Rail User Group, Network Rail’s London North Eastern and East Midlands route (LNE & EM) has launched a trial to reinvigorate lineside vegetation management and establish hedgerows along Britain’s modern railway.
The hedgerows, which will become large and flower rich, growing to up to three metres in height, will provide visual beauty and an important habitat for nesting birds and other wildlife. They will be monitored over five years to see which method of establishment achieves the best results in terms of community appeal, wildlife habitat, safety and cost.
Rob McIntosh, route managing director for Network Rail’s LNE & EM route, said:
“The competing challenges we face in managing vegetation near the railway are well known; safety for passengers, maintaining habitat for wildlife and the impact on our neighbours. But with this trial – in partnership with the Hadley Wood community – we are confident that we will find a solution and return an area once rich in wildlife to one of significance for the future.”
The start of the trial on 28 November 2018 takes place during National Tree Week and on the day of publication of the Varley report which was commissioned by the Department for Transport to review Network Rail’s vegetation management.
Robert Wilson, Chairman of the Hadley Wood Association, said:
“Hadley Wood welcomes Network Rail’s positive and public commitment to proportionate trackside habitat management and a substantial and diverse replanting programme. The Hadley Wood Trial represents one key result of the partnership between Network Rail and the community, with The Tree Council as our critical friend and inspiration, with everyone enthusiastically accepting the proposal that Hadley Wood be the site of a new hedgerow replanting trial. “
Sara Lom, chief executive of The Tree Council, said:
“Britain’s network of hedges forms the perfect wildlife corridor – they connect landscapes and allow nature to thrive, as well as tackling air and noise pollution and keeping our communities attractive and green. The results of this hedge planting trial will offer valuable data on how to establish thriving hedgerows on the UK’s rail-side for the benefit of local communities and wildlife.”
Two 180-metre long by 2-metre wide hedgerows will be created along the edge of Hadley Wood Station’s western bank alongside the National Cycle Path, with help from the local community.
Both hedgerows will be divided into three 60-metre sections to test different establishment techniques. One area will be planted with rows of small whips (young trees less than 0.5m in height), one will be seeded with UK-sourced hedgerow seeds and one area will be left to regenerate naturally.
The finished hedges will comprise a mix of hawthorn, blackthorn, field maple, dog-rose and wayfaring trees.
At the same time as helping create the trial hedgerow, local Hadley Wood school children and residents will be invited to plant 30 ornamental trees, including field maples, rowans, hazel, silver birch and crab apple to add seasonal colour and interest for travellers and nectar for pollinators.
The launch of the Hadley Wood trial follows recent engagement with the Hadley Wood community following excessive vegetation management around the station earlier this year, as part of the programme to improve the safety and performance of the railway served by Thameslink services. The LNE & EM route has also used this to produce new guidelines for vegetation management across its 2000 miles of railway.
For the planting on 28 November, Network Rail will be providing a safe environment to access the western bank of Hadley Wood Station to ensure the invited school children and residents can help in the start of planting the new hedgerows and trees.