Vegetation clearance works, mothballed rail, East West Rail

The brief

We worked with our client to assist with a major rail project, to connect East Anglia with central, southern and western England. As part of this project, 17km of mothballed railway was being converted back into a live high speed rail line.

What we did

Thomson Habitats, in conjunction with Thomson Ecology, was asked to undertake the cess-to-cess clearance, and further clearance of strips along the route in its entirety to facilitate topographical surveys and detailed design work at the GRIP 2 stage.

Large sections of the works involved working in highly sensitive habitats with ecological constraints for dormice, badgers, reptiles, breeding birds and great crested newts. Thomson Habitats proposed a novel approach utilizing RRV vehicles along the existing line to minimise habitat disturbance and to optimise working efficiencies.

  • Using RRV Unimogs we cleared a trackbed width, 10m approx, of vegetation along the 17km section.
  • We installed a temporary haul road to facilitate plant access and egress.
  • We undertook the clearance of 85 strips on the northern and southern sides of the cess, to facilitate topographical surveys.
  • We flailed over 20ha of small vegetation with a diameter less than 100mm – using 13t excavators with heavy duty flail heads.
  • We felled hundreds of trees, over 100mm diameter, using excavators, tree shears, and Unimogs. We transported the felled trees using two forestry forwarders, guided by pilot vehicles and banksmen, to one of three chip sites where they were chipped using a 24” crane-fed whole-tree chipper. The chippings were removed for biomass.

All of the works were supervised by ecological clerks of works to ensure that any areas of ecological sensitivity were not disturbed. The project was completed to the brief and within tight timescales. The project was monitored and managed using the Thomson Interactive Mapping (TIM) system which was updated using mobile mappers on site as work progressed.

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