Network Rail to resume railway clearance work in Stone

The work was postponed earlier this year, leaving some trees looking like giant totem poles! Picture by John Dalton
The work was postponed earlier this year, leaving some trees looking like giant totem poles! Picture by John Dalton

Network Rail’s work to clear vegetation and chop back trees from the railway line in Stone will resume tonight (Friday 2nd October) after it was put on hold in the summer following complaints.

And Network Rail has apologised for the amount of through-the-night work that will be needed.

The work – which is designed to improve safety – started in January this year but was halted in April after concerns about the impact on wildlife, and the visual impact of severely chopped-back trees along Granville Terrace and elsewhere. Network Rail held an information event in the town in August to explain to local people why the works are necessary.

Work will now resume on the stretch of the West Coast Main Line from Stone station to the Lichfield Road area from 3rd October to 18th December, usually from 7.30am to 5pm.

However, there are times when Network Rail will be working through the night, 11.30pm to 9.30am on the dates below, including a three-week continuous period from 16th October:

Friday 2nd to Saturday 3rd October

Friday 16th October to Sunday 7th November

Friday 13th to Saturday 21st November

Friday 27th November to Sunday 5th December

In a letter to households along the railway line, Network Rail’s community relations manager Sarah McArdie wrote: “For safety reasons, some vegetation works will  need to be completed at night. We will use a variety of equipment that can include chainsaws, flail machines, chipping machines and handsaws. Where suitable, logs and branches will be left to create a safe habitat for wildlife, chipped and spread evenly, or removed from site.

“Every effort is made to keep controllable noise to a minimum and our staff are briefed on working responsibly in the local community. However, due to the nature of these works, some disturbance is unavoidable for which we sincerely apologise.”

Network Rail says the work is vital for two reasons:

1. The Brown Review in 2014 questioned the resilience of the transport network to extreme weather and called on Network Rail to increase its focus on lineside vegetation management, mainly for safety reasons, but also to improve network resilience, reliability and punctuality
2. The railway in the Staffordshire area is currently undergoing a power supply upgrade project and Network Rail needs to remove any trees or vegetation which are within 3.5 metres of overhead electrical power lines or equipment



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