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Lineside clearance questions

Discussion in 'Civil Engineering M.I.C.' started by TonyMay, Jan 31, 2013.

  1. TonyMay

    TonyMay Member

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    Hi,

    Does anyone want to talk about lineside clearance? In particular what's the best way to clear heavy shrubbery? What equipment do you need? How much does it cost? How many people do you need? How fast can a team clear the lineside? What's the best way of keeping it down once it's been cleared? How does clearance affect the ecology?
     
  2. Ploughman

    Ploughman Well-Known Member

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    Currently a number of volunteers on the NYMR are attacking the vegetation between Goathland and Fen Bog.
    Usual tools of Bow saws, Loppers etc but backed up with Pole Saws and a chainsaw wielded by suitably certified people.

    The method that they have come up with is not to attempt to get everything down at once, but take it in stages.
    By this I mean start from the trackside and clear a strip about 10 - 15 ft or so back for the length of the site.
    Get rid of what you cut by burning when you can, making sure the fire stays under control. Then make another sweep through the site thinning out the smaller trees or bushes, get rid of that then repeat with the bigger material.
    It does not all need to be done in a season but could be done over a couple of years gradually clearing the area.
    Another point would be to start with areas of signal or crossing sighting then around S+T Locboxs.

    However if you have the money and the kit then use a Road Rail machine with a flail attachment as long as you don't have any neighbours to upset.
    In all cases however remember that cutting may have to stop between late Feb and June for bird nesting season.

    I will ask about the other points and see what the regular team think.
     
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  3. Ploughman

    Ploughman Well-Known Member

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    First response from the team.

    What is the definition of ‘heavy shrubbery’?
    Hiring in professionals is expensive. that’s why we only use them for cutting down trees of a size that require climbing into them.
    Obviously a tractor type brush cutter is the most efficient way of solving the problem, as it only requires one man. The problem on a railway is that you cannot always get a tractor to site, unless you have a works train.
    Chains saws , hand saws and long handled loppers plus burning off at regular intervals afterwards, solves the problem for us and keeps it in check.
    These days sighting at crossings and on curves is probably more important than ecology. As you know , if trees are left to shade the formation, all sorts of operating problems result.
     
  4. West Somerset Wizard

    West Somerset Wizard Part of the furniture

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    There is a regular cutting back team at work on the WSR, working at targeted locations between Minehead and Norton Fitzwarren, along with another dedicated team who usually work once a week at either Minehead and Dunster Stations and Washford Cutting. Then there are dedicated lengthsmen who will mind their length. As far as I can tell the tools used range from the usual hand tools to powered strimmers and brush cutters and chain saws. Each member will have PTS and some will have appropriate certification for the powered tools. There can be dozens of different volunteers involved over the year. Some parties may have three people, some may have over 40. WSR :: West Somerset Railway :: Snapshot

    All regular work is planned well in advance through the railway company's management processes.

    Once a year in the Spring (sometimes once every two years) two road-rail vehicles are contracted-in and will give the whole line a trim, apart from the wooded sections (not many left now) and the areas out of reach. This prevents the regrowth of saplings. WSR :: West Somerset Railway :: Snapshot

    Felling of large trees is mostly done with specialist contractors, whilst the cutting back teams are fully competent at taking out the smaller ones. The trunks and branches have been cut into logs, collected by one of the famous WSR log trains, and the timber sold. WSR :: West Somerset Railway :: Snapshot

    There are several official wildlife sites within the boundary fences which require an agreed management process. More generally along the line, the annual mowing and clearance helps to produce a wide range of flowers throughout the summer which in turn makes for a more pleasant experience for our travelling visitors.

    With 46 miles (23 each side) to keep in order, it's an ongoing task, as can be imagined. And it's not cheap. But it really helps.

    For pictures of the above tasks go to WSR :: West Somerset Railway :: Pictures and News then "galleries" and search for "log train" or "cutting back" or "trim" or "Dingle" (the railway has used Dingle Bros for lineside trimming).

    Hope this helps - if there is a member of the WSR's cutting back teams on the forum they may be able to add more.

    Steve
     
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  5. richards

    richards Part of the furniture

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    Interesting stuff. This is the sort of unseen but important work that is so easily forgotten in running a railway. It's not a job I would volunteer for, but I've great respect for the guys who do it.

    Richard
     
  6. Ploughman

    Ploughman Well-Known Member

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    There is one group of people who have found a benefit from this and some are actually helping out as well.
    Lineside photographers they do tend to know the spots that vegetation could do with being cleared from.
     
  7. Jack Enright

    Jack Enright New Member

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    This has also been found in the Weald of Kent and East Sussex. Wild boar escaped from boar farms into the dense woodland, and pretty soon the locals noticed areas where the boar had been rooting for food. At first, they were quite upset at what they saw as damage - and it has to be admitted that, initially, those stretches of ground looked like they'd been attacked by a drunk with a garden cultivator! But, within a matter of weeks, a whole range of different plants and flowers were flourishing in the little clearings made by the boar. So, in the long run, clearing off dense undergrowth actually encourages plant diversity and, in turn, that encourages a variety of insects, butterflies, birds, etc, who tap into the new food sources.
     
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  8. Axe

    Axe Member

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    The biggest problem you are likley to encounter is the opposition from nearby residents to the felling of trees and large bushes. A decade ago when I worked as a volunteer in a lineside clearance gang, we found that when working near residential properties the residents will watch your every move. Bring out a chainsaw and all hell can break loose.

    Chris
     
  9. lil Bear

    lil Bear Part of the furniture

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    Nesting season is March/April until September. At CVR we take Easter as being the final weekend we can fell anything, unless there is an absolute must for cutting whatever.
     
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  10. lil Bear

    lil Bear Part of the furniture

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    Has anybody had any success in getting support from local groups to assist with such?

    At CVR our biggest issue is finding the chainmen to actually cut the trees, with only 1x main volunteer having the necessary qualifications.
    The courses are quite expensive, so wondered if anyone had had any success in finding willing volunteers from other sources? TIA
     
  11. Jack Enright

    Jack Enright New Member

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    I'd have responded by pointing out that the trees and bushes were on the railway's land.
     
  12. John Stewart

    John Stewart Part of the furniture

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    Harden your heart and take no notice, provided that you do not endanger wildlife. Loss of trees within the railway boundary is no business of the natives.
     
  13. Axe

    Axe Member

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    There's absolutely nothing to be gained by deliberately seeking confrontation. Each and every heritage railway I have been involved with over more years than I care to remember have stressed the importance of remaining on good terms with their neighbours.

    Chris
     
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  14. Jack Enright

    Jack Enright New Member

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    I'm not sure whether your reply was aimed at me, or at John Stewart; either way, I think it was uncalled for. Neither of us suggested "deliberately seeking confrontation", did we?

    I suggested pointing out what should be an obvious fact - that the trees are on the railway's land, and not that of your neighbours. So, unless the trees in question are the subject of a preservation order, you have every right to fell them - and a railway has valid reasons for doing so. John suggested just ignoring them - are you saying that ignoring a bullying nuisance is "deliberately seeking confrontation"?

    In your post, you said:

    which suggests it was your neighbours who were 'deliberately seeking confrontation', and not you.

    Personally, I've lost track of the number of times I've heard that 'avoid a confrontation' mantra trotted out - I've also lost track of the number of times I've seen it utterly fail. If you let other people dictate what you can and cannot do, even if what you're doing is none of their business, some people will walk all over you - and you'll deserve it, too.
     
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  15. Axe

    Axe Member

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    Yes okay you state the obvious in respect of which side of the boundary fence the trees stand. But when you have an upset and irate neighbour demanding to know over the fence what the hell you are doing, there’s a right way and a wrong way for the group leader to deal with the situation. Without exception the wrong way is to argue with the neighbour there and then while they are upset and irate about what the railway can and will do.

    Chris
     
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  16. Jack Enright

    Jack Enright New Member

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    You're a bit fond of putting your words into other people's mouths, aren't you? When did I say anything about arguing with the said neighbour?

    All I said was to point out that the trees are on the railway's land, not the neighbours. Furthermore, I see no point in grovelling to someone who is (in your words) "DEMANDING to know what the HELL I am doing" - when it's actually none of his damn business. As I said above, it sounds to me as though it was your neighbours, and not myself or John Stewart, who were "deliberately seeking a confrontation".

    But do what you want with people like that - it's no skin off my nose.
     
  17. michaelh

    michaelh Well-Known Member

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    Yes and then you get said neighbours complaing to councils about noise and smoke from the railway - do you really want to provoke hostility? One heritage railway (which shall remain nameless) upset the neighbours by cutting down trees. Said neighbours were later observed with hand held speed cameras pointing at trains in order to report them to HMRI if they exceeded the 25mph speed limit.
     
  18. Jack Enright

    Jack Enright New Member

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    If the neighbours are that hostile already, they'll act like that regardless of what you do or say.
     
  19. John Stewart

    John Stewart Part of the furniture

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    It is possible to make a Tree Preservation Order on land owned by a railway company but inadvisable to make such on land where trains run close by. Even if there is an Order a railway company could trim or remove trees without seeking consent where such work can be shown to be essential for the safe operation of the railway. "Safe operation" is a wide concept and would, apart from the obvious protruding branches situation, include matters such as roots affecting drainage or stability. (There are similar provisions for trees affecting highway safety). If a railway owned a big car park with trees on the boundary it may be reasonable to put an Order on those as there would be little chance of conflict with railway operations. I once had woman who wanted to fell a protected tree because birds stood on it and defecated on her car below!
     
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  20. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Part of the furniture

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    I've always found if you explain why you're doing something rather than just that you can it tends to go down better with folk. Eg ticket only site access on GWSR, when I explain to people why they tend to be a hit less grumpy about it.
     
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