In Your Face

In Your Face
Thought provoking opinions on topical issues.

Monday, May 12, 2003

A Hammer to Crack a Nut

The Sunday Times reports that Network Rail has decided that the annual winter chaos on the railway network, caused by falling leaves and branches fouling the tracks, has to stop.

To this end, they have decided to take draconian measures; they will fell the trees lining the railway embankments.

Environmentalists have raised concerns about the damage that this will cause to the ecosystem. However, I would like to draw Network Rail’s attention to another possible drawback to this scheme.

I am not a civil engineer, but strongly suspect that the trees, or rather the roots of the trees, perform an unseen service; namely, they reinforce the structural integrity of the embankments.

Network Rail, by removing the trees, may well be destabilising the structural integrity of the embankments. This in turn may make them prone to slippage, and collapse; thereby causing the trains to be further delayed. I would have thought that leaves and fallen branches were easier to deal with than earth slips.

Comments from Network Rail on this matter are most welcome.

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