HELENSBURGH residents are being warned of the potential for more than two months of night-time noise disturbance as work gets set to start on a railway line through the town.

Network Rail will begin clearing overgrown trees and vegetation from the sides of the West Highland line between Craigendoran and Helensburgh Upper on Monday, January 24.

The infrastructure firm says it will do as much of the work as possible during the day – but that there are some sections closest to the railway line itself where night-time working will be unavoidable.

The clearance work, to take place over 10 weeks, is part of a new trial project to “improve lineside biodiversity” on the line.

All woody vegetation within at least four metres of the track will be cleared, and any trees that could strike the line if they fall will be pruned or cut down to remove the risk to the railway.


Overgrown vegetation on the West Highland Line

The site is located between the two red points on the map

When the felling and removal of trees is complete, the area will be replanted with native trees and shrubs including holly, hawthorn, blackthorn, rowan, hazel and elder.

The rail company says that if the pilot scheme is successful, the project will benefit the surrounding wildlife and help the firm work towards targets which will see no net loss of biodiversity by 2024 – with an overall net gain by 2035.

Kirsty Armstrong, Network Rail project manager, said: “We look after thousands of miles of railway embankments and constantly work to manage trees and vegetation so that what grows lineside is safe and does not cause delays to trains.

“Our new approach will compensate for what is removed through managed replanting and transform low value land into areas that will become species-rich, but also safe for the operation of services.

“We will be carrying out as much of the work as possible during the day to minimise the amount of disruption to our neighbours.


Overgrown vegetation on the West Highland Line

Overgrown vegetation on the West Highland Line

"There will, though, be sections closest to the line where we have no alternative but to work at night.

“Our teams are always mindful of the impact their work can have on lineside neighbours and do what they can to minimise noise from site. We want to apologise in advance if anyone is disturbed by the work.”

Network Rail says its team of ecologists have carried out surveys for breeding birds and other protected species to identify a number of trees to be retained for biodiversity reasons, such as those with bat roost potential. The regrowth of the woodland will be managed over 10 years.

Those living closest to the line have been advised about the work in advance.

If anyone has any questions or concerns about the work they can raise them by contacting Network Rail’s 24-hour national helpline on 03457 11 41 41.