London Assembly members have called on rail companies to improve how they communicate with local communities when maintaining trackside land.
Collectively Network Rail and London Underground (LU) are responsible for 450 miles of trackside land in London. LU’s land accounts for 10 per cent of all green spaces in the capital and houses a wide number of wildlife species.
The Assembly’s Environment Committee says Londoners value the land both as an ecological asset and a barrier to noise from trains.
However residents and councils have told Assembly Members they often feel poorly informed about the scale of maintenance work which is sometimes seen as “excessive or drastic”.
In a new report, the Committee calls on the companies to provide specific details of work and to liaise more closely with the London Biodiversity Partnership.
AMs also recommend Network Rail adopt LU’s practice of using a database of environmental information when planning future works.
Committee Deputy Chair Darren Johnson said: “Trackside vegetation shields thousands of Londoners living alongside railway tracks from disturbance and is home to all kinds of animals, plants and birds.
“We all agree that railways must operate efficiently and safely, but at the same time, vegetation and the species living there need protection because of their environmental and aesthetic benefits.
“Network Rail and Transport for London should focus more on treating this land as an asset, not a liability. Although they have good policies in place, they should better inform local residents about planned works and why they are needed.
”The two companies could also work more closely with other organisations in the capital to fully consider the environmental value of sites before works are carried out.”