Fifty years of inadequate tree maintenance

on Saturday, 08 September 2012.




Winchmore Hill resident Peter Johns, a retired chartered engineer, has been supporting a team of campaigners in Whitstable who have managed to secure a stay of execution,against  Network Rail's wholesale clearance of their embankments.


He has produced a new report, arguing that a combination of poor embankment construction and fifty years of  inadequate maintenance of track-side vegetation has led to Network Rail's difficulties in managing track quality and safety standards in Whitstable, as in other parts of the country including Grange Park.


Click on the image to download the report.



Johns argues that in justifying the wholesale clearance of railside vegetation, Network Rail is very selective in the evidence it puts forward to support the policy. In Network Rail's technical presentation, evidence showing that ‘trees are bad’ was stressed, while evidence that ‘trees are good’ was glossed over. He argues that there is a large body of evidence that tree removal actually triggers slope instability. Network Rail is ignoring this and Network Rail's record on its maintenance of earthworks is inferior to that of London Underground Ltd. (LUL), which has developed a policy based on retaining more trees. In the last decade, Network Rail has seen the number of landslides more than double year on year, whilst on the LUL network landslides have been almost eliminated.
The report examines all known factors compromising rail safety and proposes a solution that addresses all of Network Rail's safety concerns. An alternative solution is proposed which involves pollarding mature trees, clearing undergrowth and replanting with evergreen trees and shrubs in an effort to move towards the gradual elimination of deciduous vegetation. 
This is the presentation given by Network Rail to local residents to explain why it was deemed necessary to carry out wholesale vegetation cleanance in Whitstable.

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