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Published on : Friday, May 13, 2016
Wildlife, as well as train passengers, will benefit from a major railway upgrade in Oxford, Network Rail and Chiltern Railways said today.Purpose-built habitats are being created for newts, reptiles, badgers, bats and swallows beside the railway in the varsity city.
By the time Chiltern Railways services launch from Oxford to London in December 2016, there will be 10,000 squares metres more of potential trackside habit, including more than 11,000 trees, wildflower grasslands and hedgerows.
Engineers are currently installing 5km of two-track railway and remodelling existing track layouts between the new Oxford Parkway and the existing Oxford stations. New bridges are being built and track beds widened.
This work is taking place ahead of the planned start of new train services, by Chiltern Railways, from Oxford to London Marylebone in December this year. This follows the launch, last October, of Chiltern’s services between Oxford Parkway to Marylebone, after 13km of track was upgraded as far as Bicester.
Andy Milne, senior programme manager for Network Rail, said: “As well as providing a great new option for Oxford commuters and significant economic benefits to the city, this scheme is trying to tread as lightly as possible on the natural environment.
“When you’re carrying out a major railway upgrade like this, cutting back lineside vegetation is unavoidable. But wherever we have had to fell a tree we replace it with an evergreen species more suitable for a modern railway corridor.“We are replacing valuable line-side ecosystems, with animals such as badgers and great-crested newts being sensitively relocated.”
Habitats and planted areas are being created for great crested newts, reptiles, swallows, butterflies, badgers and bats. Steve Barker, director of Chiltern Railways, said: “Following the launch of services between Oxford Parkway and London Marylebone in October 2015, work now continues to extend services to Oxford city centre by December 2016. “Minimising our environmental impact is a crucial element of the project, for example, 10 artificial badger setts were built and are in use along the route. We have already seen young badger cubs being cared for by their mother next to one of the purpose-built setts.”
Liam Creedon, of Butterfly Conservation, added: “Our beleaguered butterflies face an unprecedented threat from habitat loss and other factors with more than three quarters of UK species in a state of decline so any move to help provide habitat are most welcome.