Network Rail unnerving plans for works along Gospel Oak - Barking line

After a series of attempts to find out what NR was going to happen to the land adjoining the railway, it appears that all the fences are going to be replaced by 2.1m high prison like palisade fences with the removal of most of the vegetation possibly including the trees along the railway. There seems to be no recognition that the works will be adjoining a Conservation Area and the Parkland Walk. NR seems to think that consultation consists of some poorly written letters and a helpline which cannot answer any questions! While the work to electrify the line is generally good thing, I am at a loss why NR do not seem to understand that being sympathetic to the environment is vital. I am going to get in touch with other local residents and our local councillors who have not taken much interest in this.


  • Could the fences and tree felling be anything to do with the fact that there will be very high voltage wires about the place once they install the overhead system ? That said it should be sympathetic where possible but above all safe.
  • Indeed it is. So the problem is not so much the need for better fencing or the electrification itself but the issue is all around not talking to local residents about how the work will be done and ensuring that not all the trees and vegetation is not ripped out and nothing restored. NR also thinks that the it will be less noisy when diesel freight trains will still be trundling through for years to come! I have been told that Wightman Road already has some of th fencing up and it is hideous!
  • This sounds pretty bad (I live 200m from the line), just West of Crouch End. I thought we got some reassurances c. 1 year ago about NR plans. Where did you find this out? Have you got any written info or contact details for NR - I will try to mobilise my neighbours!
  • All the trees at City North site were ripped out and destroyed overnight last night. Sad that they've gone.

    Whatever happened about the promised replacement trees for those that John Jones destroyed?
  • The best response is the NR Twitter feed (@NetworkRailGOBE) plus telling our local councillors that you are not happy - for example The issue is not the need to replace the fences but the removal of most of vegetation and lack of commitment to replace them. I did some digging through my contacts at NR.
  • I would be totally gutted if the vegetation goes. This runs all the way behind my house and the tree-lined outlook was part of the reason I bought the house. I will get in touch with our neighbourhood watch contact but please feel free to PM me about getting involved
  • Maclondon I found this on the website: which suggests a commitment to consultation but as as a resident I certainly haven't been consulted on any plans about vegetation clearance. The only letters I have received have been about the noise the works will create (which haven't themselves lived up to promises made at the outset but, being of a temporary nature, are of a second-order concern). Some vegetation was removed about 6 months ago and, while ugly, was only fairly close to the track. Is your information that there will be further, and more extreme, removal?
  • talking to some contacts within NR, the plans are much more extensive - it could effectively remove almost all the vegetation and many of the trees. While I stressed to the project manager the importance to minimise away from the railway line and restore what they remove I only received a standard response of what the NR standards are and that there were no options (though at times I think they were talking about doing the electrification works themselves) The NR webpages are very generic - what is important is that with the twin facts that at least our bit of the route is both a Conservation area and adjacent to the Parkland Walk we/the council do have some influence for the plans to be modified (though only if residents press for the changes)
  • Thanks maclondon. I have contacted Councillor Gallagher by email and he has already got back to me to say that he will contact Network Rail but I suppose the more people that contact him the higher a priority this will be for him. I have also contacted the rest of the residents on my street via the neighbourhood watch forum but I don't know if there is a similar easy way to contact residents on Stapleton Hall Road and other affected roads?
  • I also found this cautionary tale about the experience of residents in Winchmore Hill:
  • edited September 2016
    Disturbing what could happen. To be fair, NR has moved on from those days but without a joint effort, this could be the impact. Get the message out!
  • Vegetation is such a horrible word for the natural environment. Makes it sound unimportant and as if it's a nuisance - which I suppose is their aim.
  • I thought of another thing we could mention - the impact the trees have on air quality, which is v poor already.
  • NR have a micro site about the works it says Better for the environment The switch from diesel to electric trains will improve air quality for railway neighbours. The environmental impact of all materials used and our actions have been carefully considered in order to improve local biodiversity. Examples include: Using recycled oil and gas pipes as steel piles Sustainable materials selected wherever possible, all timber is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. Over 90 per cent of materials will be delivered by rail, reducing traffic disruption for railway neighbours. Unavoidable loss of biodiversity will be offset locally. I thought it was informative
  • You might also be interested in the user group The history is also interesting. You used to be able to get the boat train to Tilbury to get to Europe
  • Ali - the NR environmental responsibility points are pretty standard stuff - for example, TfL is aiming for higher standards in similar categories (40% reduction in energy use by 2020). The key is what they are committed to doing in addition here and at the moment it appears nothing. The electric argument is a it misleading as while the Overground trains will become electric once completed, many of the freight services are likely to stay as diesel hauled for the foreseeable future as they operate across non-electrified routes along the way and they are the noises and operate at night!
  • There are many more passenger trains than freight as they are 4 an hour each way plus it will attract more passengers away frpom cars. I recommend that folks watch the video of the project work to date I thought it was very interesting. Are the trains at night not confounds nuclear waste trains heading north to Sellafield or is that the old North London line? Lots of fuss about that around ten years ago. Are the TfL train's noit different with loits of starting and stopping so lots of power saving opportunities compared to the stock on Goblin as it ius a different type of service pattern etc
  • Ali, I repeat - while the the passenger trains will indeed be quieter and the electrification is a good thing it is freight t are the problematic ones as there are 10 or more overnight when the line is not blocked and most of these will remain diesel for sometime after the works are completed. Most of these are either container trains moving to/from Tilbury or Felixstowe or aggregate trains plus a few freight trains carrying cars for export. Mother nuclear trains rarely if ever come through London these days. Making the area an industrial prison and destroying the natural habitats can be avoided - even NR can make it happen!
  • I contacted NR via their online discussion but they had no record of further works and said someone would contact me. No one has yet. Might be one for an actual letter.
  • I don't object to the electrification or the freight trains - I bought my house with my eyes open as to the fact there is a railway line there and obviously trains can use it night and day. But I did not anticipate the felling of mature trees and would like the courtesy of a response from NR as to what their plans are in this regard and what alternatives have been considered.
  • I am on Stapleton Hall and concerned about possible tree felling.

    SGRA next monthly surgery -

    Thur 29th Sep
    7.30 - 8.00
    Quernmore library
  • Thanks Toddlesocks I will try and make it.
  • Not to enter tinfoil hat territory, but I would also be very concerned about noise. Some folk (and yup, I'm one of them) can hear the high pitched noise that electrified lines produce. I used to live a couple of blocks from the North London Line (by Caledonian Rd & Barnsbury station) and the noise would literally drive me crazy (note that on certain days, when the wind blew in the right direction my housemates could also hear it - but it didn't have the same effect on them..). Then again, I'm weird about certain noises. Like gum being chewed. I *hate* gum chewers with a vengeance.
  • I have received a helpful response from Councillor Tim Gallagher - enclosing some info from NR. On the one hand it's reassuring that they commit to only removing what is necessary and clarify that this is 5-8m from the track. On the other hand their stance about consultation is disappointing. I am glad the Councillor is going to press them on this. "Dear [ ] I have received the following information from Network Rail. I also wrote to them about vegetation clearance on Mount Pleasant Crescent, and they have only responded with details of this area. I have written back with more clarity on the situation on Dagmar Road. - Network Rail is delivering this project on behalf of DfT and TfL. We’ve been working with all seven local councils to gain permission for works and make them aware of the project. - Consultation on individual work packages would be impossible from both a cost and resourcing perspective. In addition I feel it would be disingenuous to consult as there are no options to the work that is vital for the electrification of this route. - Ground surveys have been undertaken along the route to ensure structural stability. This is of upmost importance as we’re working on Victorian infrastructure. New fencing - The location and height of the fence is determined by rail safety electrification regulations for the safety of neighbours and passengers. - This work is on Network Rail land and does not require additional permissions. - The cutting next to Mount Pleasant Crescent /Villas is not in a conservation area. - The new fencing will run along the whole route. Over 6000m of new fencing will be installed. Due to safety regulations in some areas the fencing will be higher than 1.8m due to the risk of trespassing. - The plan for Mount Pleasant Villas and Crescent is to replace the existing chain-link fence (which has been identified as being in a poor condition) with 2.1m silver galvanised palisade fencing as this area has been identified as high risk. - The location of the fence will be the same as it is now. Vegetation clearance - We will only need to cut back enough vegetation in the Mount Pleasant Villas/Crescent area to install the new fence. - The extent of vegetation clearance required has not yet been decided. Full ecological surveys will take place starting on Monday 26 September we will then be in a better position to inform local residents. - Vegetation clearance is required within 5-8m of the newly electrified railway to protect both lineside neighbours and passengers as electricity can ‘jump’ up to 3 meters. - Independent noise monitoring studies have shown that vegetation does not provide noise mitigation. - The new electric passenger trains (arriving in early 2018) will be quieter than the old diesel trains. I agree with the points raised by residents that communication has been inadequate, particularly regarding plans for the extent of vegetation clearance. I have written back to Network Rail asking for more information on the clearance as soon as it is available (and whether there will be similar surveys for the Dagmar Road area). I have stressed that they need to do all they can to preserve existing vegetation. I will update you once I have received a reply to this. But do let me know in the meantime if there are any more queries to raise. Best wishes Tim Cllr Tim Gallagher Labour councillor for Stroud Green ward and Cabinet Advisor for Culture 07812 677728"
  • Oh dear. I fear a lot of the bucolic views along the railway are about to be trashed. I suppose that eventually the ugly new fences will be at least partly obscured by vegetation again though.
  • Does anyone have any concept of what 5-8m from the railway line means in practice? My spacial awareness is limited but it's a sloping embankment so potentially it's quite a lot of embankment?
  • edited September 2016
    A fair whack. But haven't they already undertaken at least some of that work? A vast number of trackside trees have been felled between Oakfield road and Mount Pleasant Villas.
  • Yes, and behind Dagmar Road too. I had (naively, as it turned out) assumed that was all the necessary works.
  • Have responded to the councillors email. The response he received was largely standard NR response - what I would be looking for is a commitment to at least the following: 1 - noise mitigations given that the many freight trains which use the route will likely remain diesel hauled post electrification 2 - no cutting down of trees next to the fences (pruning ok) and replanting of shrubs and trees to a reasonable standard 3 - painting and reduction of the height proposed (2.1m down to 1.8m) as no mitigation will make it look like a prison haringey council has some influence as much of the fencing works requires access to local authority roads and we do supposedly live in a conservation area!
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