Network Rail

David Burrowes statement on meeting with Network Rail

on Wednesday, 06 April 2011. Posted in N21 Community, Network Rail

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Network Rail "contrite and constructive" in meeting with MP

 

Having held a public meeting to hold Network Rail to account for the destruction of trees in Grange Park and previuosly in Winchmore Hill, David Burrowes MP yesterday met with the Chief Executive David Higgins and the Heads of Engineering and Communications.

 

In a full and frank meeting lasting 1 1/2 hours Network Rail acknowledged serious failures in communication and the extent of destruction of trees. Agreement has been reached for a replanting scheme which, subject to local residents approval, will involve a significant number of replacement trees. Network Rail also agreed to disclose environmental assessments and to fully engage local representatives and residents in the replanting scheme. An assurance was given that land development was not a reason for the works and there are no plans for future development.

 

A commitment was made for senior representatives of Network Rail to attend another public meeting in September to confirm the progress on the replanting scheme, account for their actions and lessons learnt from their failures and provide undertakings to the local community.

 

David Burrowes said "I was pleased to meet with the Chief Executive of Network Rail David Higgins and his senior managers who I would describe as being contrite and constructive. They recognised Network Rail's serious failings both in communication and substance.

 

In particular Network Rail agreed to be open and transparent about the reasons for their works, options that were considered to deal with their concerns about safety and operational efficiency and the disclosure of the environmental assessments. I have been assured that land development does not feature in any of the works or plans for the immediate area. I have been promised the release of all the relevant environmental assessments and surveys.

 

It was also agreed that there will be no budget restraint on the replanting scheme which will include a significant number of trees. I am pleased we have moved a long way from the initial response of a derisory greening of the embankment to a promise of new trees both at the toe of the embankment and at an intermediate level. Network Rail's past cavalier approach to the public and local environment has left Winchmore Hill and Grange Park previously wooded wildlife corridor looking like a disaster zone.

 

We now seem to have a new open and responsible approach from the new Chief Executive. I will keep a very close eye on progress in the coming months to agree the replanting scheme. The hope is that we can turn a disaster zone into a community led environmental project. I look forward to receiving a letter from Network Rail setting out the agreed actions from our meeting and the public meeting in September. I also hope to secure a debate in Parliament after Easter.

David Burrowes, MP

Letter from TfL on the Grange Park Embankment Clearance

on Friday, 01 April 2011. Posted in N21 Community, Network Rail

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Below is a copy of the letter sent to Cllr Bond, Cabinet Member for Enviroment, on behalf of Enfield Council, to Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Philip Hammond, Secretary of State for Transport.

 

In return for two letters, there was one reply. Cllr Bond has kindly forwarded the letter so that it can be shared with the local community and has spoken of the Government's "breadtaking arrogance".

 

Have a read and see if you agree.

Network Rail Meeting, Denise Thompson has form

on Thursday, 10 February 2011. Posted in N21 Community, Network Rail

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No agenda has been made available for the meeting with Network Rail on Friday February 11th.

 

The following people from Network Rail will be attending. 
Denise Thompson, Community Relations Manager LNE, Chris McDaid, Project Manager for the scheme, Martyn Wilson, Senior Earthworks Engineer and possibly the Senior Lineside Engineer.

 

Denise Thompson, Network Rail's Community Rail manager regularly attends meetings with angry residents such as this one. As one local resident has described it, Denise Thompson as 'got form'. She attends meetings up and down the country, following Network Rail's path of destruction, including a meeting with Winchmore Hill Area Forum, in October 2008. 

 

In summary, Denise Thompson stated that trees would not have been removed unless it was necessary, and that ecological surveys were carried out before such work was done. Network Rail had used a properly qualified company to carry out a survey. She apologised for the lack of pre-notification of the work to local residents - remiss, but they still keep on doing it - they don't seem to learn from their own mistakes.

 

Ms Thompson reported that Letters would normally have been sent in advance by Network Rail in the interests of being a good neighbour, in case people may be disturbed bl works and to notify local residents if work was being carried out which would have a visual impact. However, the clearance work would still have been carried out.

 

Ms Thompson has faced the wrath of angry residents up and down the country. In Scunthorpe a petition of nearly 1,000 signatures has been handed over to Network Rail bosses in protest at plans to axe a mile of track-side trees along Brumby Wood Lane (Scunthorpe). Handing over the petition, campaigner Martyn Roach said: "I have collected nearly 1,000 signatures on the strength of Rachel Lowe's comment in the Scunthorpe Telegraph that 'we are not going to not do it just because some residents are unhappy'. I would like to hand over this petition to show how many people are objecting. Network Rail community relations manager Denise Thompson failed to provide evidence in the form of an ecological survey"

 

More recently, residents in Derbyshire were told that it was not Network Rail's policy to replant the vegetation they havve destroyed, shown in this letter.

We don't want Grange Park to be left like a bomb site. We need a national campaign to put a stop to this lunacy.

David Burrowes statement on Network Rail Tree Removal

on Saturday, 05 February 2011. Posted in N21 Community, Network Rail

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Removal of Trees and Woodland Beside Railway

I am extremely concerned about the wholesale destruction of trees and clearance of the woodland area along the railway from Green Dragon Lane through to Grange Park station and was concerned to see myself the devastation caused to the wonderful woodland area and wildlife habitat adjoining the railway embankment.  Sadly this is not the first time Network Rail have carried out such works without proper notification and consultation with the local community.  Residents in Winchmore Hill have already suffered similar tree losses and I understand Cuffley residents are in a similar position further up the line.

 

I have made repeated representations to both Network Rail and Transport Ministers, raising concern in particular about the lack of prior communication with the local community and myself to explain fully and clearly why the scale of works and tree removal is necessary. You may be aware that the Coalition Government are committed to reform Network Rail to ensure that it becomes more accountable to the public. The sooner this happens the better.

 

In the meantime I have been making urgent enquiries with Network Rail managers to try and get some clear answers about the reasons for the works and this is the information I obtained which comes from Network Rail's Senior Earthworks Engineer:

 

"The scheme is being undertaken due to reports from the Track Team of Poor Track Quality and examinations by the Earthworks Team confirming that it appears in Poor Condition. The site is regularly "Super Red" – meaning track line and level go off regularly and unexpectedly. This is not maintainable nor is it acceptable in terms of running a safe railway.

 

The earthworks scheme together with a track renewal (which has been undertaken this financial year) is required to correct the problem. The risk of not doing the work is of unexpected track movement / derailment. In order to combat this, the acceptable mitigations are either line closure or speed restrictions of 40mph or 5mph which would be unacceptable to the business and the general public.

 

There are two causes of the instability: -

a) The bank is made from clay which is susceptible to seasonal movement (it shrinks in summer and swells in winter). Meaning that cracks appear in it and allow water to penetrate making matters worse. This is made much worse by having huge deciduous trees on it which suck out huge quantities of water in the spring and summer and then shut down and drop leaves on it in the winter letting it get wet and keeping it wet.

 

b) Because of the shrinking the bank was made up over the years with ash. This often had coal and combustible material in it. The site was subject to bank fires in the 70's and 80's and the ash burned away. They dug it out leaving big holes in the bank and also burned patches, which turned to soggy mush when the fire went out, leaving big hole and soft patches in the bank.

What we now have to do is remove the big trees that are sucking the life out of the embankment and when we have done that remove the soft burned ash and topsoil and replace with compacted clean stone at a safe angle. The topsoil will then be replaced and standard grass seed (which contains wild flowers) will be sown".

 

I am still awaiting clarification about the extent of the works to establish whether it will be extended to the other side of Green Dragon Lane and also to clarify what Network Rail plan to do to mitigate the impact of the tree removal on local residents.

 

I know that constituents will have a number of further questions and I have arranged a public meeting to happen in the next two weeks. Further details will be posted on my website www.davidburrowes.com.

I am also meeting shortly with Network Rail managers in Parliament and will be sure to raise this issue, which is of great concern to many local residents, directly with them.

 

David Burrowes MP

Member of Parliament for Enfield Southgate

Network Rail Petition

on Friday, 04 February 2011. Posted in N21 Community, Network Rail

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N21online.com has set up a petition to deliver to Network Rail. It reads:

 

We, the undersigned, wish to register our complaints about the destruction of the natural habitat in the vicinity of Green Dragon Lane; by National Rail, which was undertaken without consultation with local residents".

You can sign the petition in shops in the Grangeway or by sending your address to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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Here is what some of you have said already:

Paul Hutchinson of the Grange Park Conservation Study Group writes:

"The Grange Park conservation area study group is concerned at the lack of effective consultation on behalf of Network Rail and First Capital Connect, with the local community and residents, about the deforestation and clearance of this significant piece of railway land. While we understand what may be the rationale behind these works, and that this is work in progress, we are also very concerned at the shock caused to local residents without any apparent advanced communication. Bearing in mind we believe this is supposed to be part of a wider designated wildlife corridor and nature conservation site, by Enfield Council (see "Enfield Local Development Framework Proposals Map, adopted 10 November 2010"), we would press strongly that all involved do their utmost to return the site to an appropriate area for nature conservation with suitable planting to shield the railway line. We are also aware that the embankment at Grange Park station is suffering from similar slippage, and may well be subject to similar works at some stage in the future. As this is part of the conservation area, we hope that lessons will be learned from this episode and that appropriate consultation takes place before works are scheduled to start there."

 

Bill Linton Enfield Green Party says

"This appears to be ecological vandalism for its own sake - the stated reason does not add up. Local people should have been consulted, whether or not there was a legal obligation - it's just common politeness!"


Alan "I would like to register my strong disagreement with the actions of Network Rail in felling so much mature wood without playing fair by the local community. This appalling action merely highlights the contempt with which faceless corporate executives are willing to treat the affected public. It's a shame that any redress is pointless; it would have to be sought by publicly-funded bodies from other publicly-funded bodies to no economic or ecological gain. Nevertheless, involved senior management should be named and shamed and, if necessary, dismissed"

 

Peter "I thought that tree roots bind the soil on the embankment and as those roots of the (now dead) trees decay the soil becomes unstable. There are plenty of instances around the world where deforestation associated with urban development or the clearing of land for agriculture have resulted in a loss of slope stability and land slips or mud slides. Network Rail seem to be trying to pull the wool over your eyes after a heavy handed attempt of addressing the problem of leaves on the line. But what do I know? I am only a civil engineer with more than thirty years experience in soil mechanics!"

 

Phil "Please keep me informed about an evening meeting with Network Rail concerning the appalling and reckless environmental damage Network rail have committed"

 

Helen "I would like to express my utter disbelief at Network Rail's pointless massacring of trees along the sidings at Grange Park"


Jo "I have had a tree cut down outside the balcony of my apartment last weekwhich was not causing any overhang or any disruption to Network Rail asit was at the bottom of the verge, so thought it was a very strange one to pick. This will change the aesthetics which is a shame and seemingly for no reason?"

 

Yasmine "I would like to sign the petition with regards to the devastation Network Rail has caused in our neighbourhood with the cutting of the trees and destroying the woodland area. Only yesterday my husband was taking our dog out for a walk and he noticed a big owl flying around the area which it seemed to us that it must of lost its home with the cutting of the trees and not to mention the devastating effect it has had on other wildlife animals. I am surprised Network Rail managed to get planning permission to cut down all those trees because as far as I am aware Enfield Council requires all residents to obtain planning permission prior to cutting down any tree in their own property let alone cut hundred of trees down without any consultation with the local residents. It will not surprise me next if that land is sold to property developers to build eyesore flats. It saddens me to see that they have destroyed our beautiful woodland area and uprooted all the wildlife animals from their natural habitat."

 

Neill "The view from my home was destroyed without notice or consultation in 2006, when this rampant destruction began. I tried in vain to stop the continuation of this policy without consultation or consideration to the natural environment but failed. They do not care about residents at all and use their legal powers to overide all opposition citing danger as the reason. Anyone with a home near to the railway is at risk"


Charles It is unbelievable (and smacks of a cowardly and could not care less attitude) that this is the only time that they can come up with. It is a time when greater than 50% of the community will be unable to attend as a result of work commitments"


Mike "While there may be no legal obligation on NR to do any more by way of 'consultation' than they have done (a point which may need to be contested), advance publication of plans and reasons would only have been courteous. It would appear that NR have acted with the all too familiar arrogance of big business. If they proceed with the attitude that they have done nothing wrong, while that may be technically correct, that will not satisfy residents and a little humility on the part of NR, together with a commitment to acceptable reinstatement of the devastated area might go some way to assuaging the anger clearly felt by many local people"


Andrea "The view from my kitchen window and the surrounding areas to my flat have been destroyed. My property as well as others are now exposed to trains more noise and a very eyesore landscape which was once surrounded by evergreen. The area looks horrendous and i am very worried that it will effect the areas market and village feel. It is also extremely sad that trees that had lived for years have been hacked away. We had no warning, no proposal - nothing from national rail. Something must be done and they should be made to restore the land they have destroyed"

 

Daphne "I'd like to contribute to the petition regarding the railway banks' clearance. National Rail did the same thing between Winchmore Hill Stn and Compton Road a couple of years ago, and staff and two of our Eco group at St Paul's School were interviewed saying we didn't want the bank behind the field cleared as it adjoins the school's garden and wildlife area. So far so good but it's important to stop the rot elsewhere"

 

Francis " I am VERY angry about what National Rail has done to the trees, bushes, undergrowth and wildlife by the railway line - still, I'm sure they are getting a bob or two for the timber they are harvesting and that will help to keep our rail fares down - Yeah, Right!"


Viviane "If this was happening in the Amazon Rainforest we would be the first to raise our disapproval - Winchmore Hill and Grange Park have been ruined, look an absolute eyesore, wild life condemned to death - I thought we were meant to be preserving nature - when it rains soil will be washed down the embankment which will become even more unstable - I feel those who live and back onto this outrage"


Graham "Whilst driving past this site early this week I saw in the little lay-by three vans with "Japanese Knotweed Eradication" on the side and 5 or 6 people dressed in all-over protection gear including goggles/ face masks, presumably for protection whilst spraying which would not be necessary merely for inspection. Japanese knotweed is a developer's nightmare and there are very strict legal controls and restrictions on building on land contaminated by Japanese knotweed, so Network Rail can hardly be contemplating a sale for development can they, unless ........."

 

Janice  "I cannot put into words how angry and upset I am to see the destruction that has taken place"

 

Keith "Please add my name to the protest re the outrageous destruction of environment"

 

Natalia " I find it extraordinary that in these democratic times a large organisation can impose such appalling, wholesale destruction of a green space without any consultation whatsover with the local community. The area now looks like something out of a Terminator movie and the wildlife and greenery that have flourished there for years have been desecrated"


Peter "I have just passed the site on a train and was dumbfounded to see the devastation. Unbelievable; outrageous. Having just submitted an application to merely prune a hawthorn tree to comply with local authority regulations, I find it amazing that Network Rail seems beyond the reach of the local community and accountable to no-one"


Raymond "I just cannot believe what they have been allowed to do. I really could cry at the total destruction that they have caused. My flat is in Deepdene Court. My outlook was one of tree tops and woodland, teaming with wildlife. Now i have a mud bank ,metal fencing and the trains. I am so angry about this ! Please keep us informed with any news or meetings about this"


Jill "It is unbelievable that this has been done without any consultation and the decimation of the trees has a material adverse effect on the houses in the vicinity who now have views of trains passing and the resultant noise pollution which was significantly masked by the trees until now"


Linda "I think that Network Rail have been deliberately negligent and irresponsible in going about this work. The impact to local residents is huge and the impact potentially dangerous to the local environment"

An open letter to David Higgins, |Chief executive of Network Rail

on Friday, 04 February 2011. Posted in N21 Community, Network Rail

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AN OPEN LETTER TO DAVID HIGGINS - CHIEF EXECUTIVE NETWORK RAIL


Network Rail
Kings Place
90 York Way
London N1 9AG                                                                                                                          3.2.11

Dear Mr Higgins,


Woodland Clearance: Grange Park London N21

On 10th January 2011, contractors working for Network Rail started clearance work on the trees and shrubs in a relatively large area next to the railway line in Grange Park, London N21. This area was an important local wildlife habitat, provided cover from the sight and noise of the railway for many surrounding houses and contributed to the overall attractiveness of Grange Park.

 

In the space of about 10 days the entire area was cleared leaving a muddy empty space, summed up by this local resident:

 

"If this was happening in the Amazon Rainforest we would be the first to raise our disapproval - Winchmore Hill and Grange Park have been ruined, look an absolute eyesore, wild life condemned to death - I thought we were meant to be preserving nature - when it rains soil will be washed down the embankment which will become even more unstable - I feel for those who live and back onto this outrage"

 

There was no explanation, no local consultation or proper warning given to local residents prior to the works beginning. It is difficult to convey here the level of local dismay, anger and incomprehension this has occasioned. The residents of Grange Park, via the N21 Rail Action Group are asking for a public meeting with Network Rail, at a time which would be convenient to the hundreds of residents who use this train line to travel into Central London.

 

At this meeting we wish to ask the following questions:

• What exactly are the reasons for the works?

 

• Why has such a large space been cleared if the reason for the clearance is track safety?

 

• What are Network Rail's plans for the area?

 

Will the area be concreted over?

 

How will this affect properties in the flood plain?

 

Will some of the land be developed?

 

• Will there be further clearance in the area?

 

• Does Network rail have a wider plan it is not making public? eg the reduction of passenger services and an increase in freight traffic?

 

• Did Network Rail take any steps at all to minimise disruption to the woodland or the local area? If so, what?

 

• Will Network Rail assure us that it will undertake a full re-planting programme in accordance with its vegetation policy as published on its website, and involve the local community in that programme?

 

We believe that Network Rail as a matter of corporate responsibility and, in particular, as a public body, has certain duties and a corporate responsibility in regard to the the communities and residents who live along their railway lines. We wish to communicate to Network Rail the hurt, anger and upset they have caused the local residents, We are owed a full explanation of the reasons for the drastic action taken; and we wish to know what drastic action should have been necessary and what remedial action is planned to restore the area to the satisfaction of our local community.

This requires a public meeting at a time at which most residents can attend.

Yours sincerely,

N21 Rail Action Group