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Published on : Thursday, April 20, 2017
More than 10 million trees growing next to the railway have been catalogued as part of a sophisticated aerial survey covering 20,000 miles of Britain’s track. The database provides engineers with a heat map indicating higher priority “problem trees” or overhanging tree canopies which need attention before they fall onto the railway and cause delays to train journeys. Part of the Offering Rail Better Information Service programme (ORBIS), the database, now completed and deployed across the company, will revolutionise the way lineside engineers target their work, as well as save the company time and money.
By providing its engineers with an early warning system to identify potential problem trees and canopies encroaching on the railway before they fall, the ORBIS programme is saving tax-payer funded Network Rail thousands of pounds in repair and clean-up costs. Tackling potential problem trees early will also help improve the safety of our railways by reducing the likelihood of a train colliding with a fallen tree or branch.The tree census is the latest offering from ORBIS, a transformation programme aimed at supporting the railway industry by collating, analysing and exploiting data from a variety of disparate sources – from Brunel-era working drawings on parchment, ordinance survey maps, water and gas board plans, to high-resolution aerial and oblique imagery and Light Detection And Ranging (LiDAR) 3D imagery. So far, the ORBIS initiative has saved Network Rail £207 million by helping engineers make smarter decisions, and “predicting and preventing” incidents. New additions to the programme, like the tree database, mean ORBIS is forecast to save £281m by 2019.