In 2001 there were 1.3bn trees in England. That’s 25 for every person in the country, the highest numbers since the first world war. One article predictedthat in 2020 there would be more trees in England than in 1086, when 15% of the country was cloaked in woodland. Part of the reason for this buoyant outlook was the country’s response to the great storm of 1987. We mourned for our ancient yews and the beeches of Chanctonbury Ring. Petitions were drafted, many thousands of saplings were planted. We rebuilt our woods with solemn and impassioned dedication.
The predictions will not fall short. Across the UK, the number of trees has sharply increased. In 2015 there were 3bn trees, the equivalent of 47, a sizeable copse, for every person, around twice as many as in 2001. These statistics might evoke a bosky eden where the wild wood is reclaiming the land, yet recent years have also seen a return of large-scale felling, with Network Rail’s plans to cut down millions more trees the latest example.
Network Rail’s view of trees is understandable. Leaves on the line can cause trains to overshoot stations, and branches and entire trees falling on to tracks cause delay or halt journeys. Between March 2016 and March 2017, 233 trains collided with fallen trees. The effect on customers cost the company hundreds of millions of pounds in compensation per year.
But it is unlikely that Network Rail or Sheffield council – which has felled around 6,000 trees as part of a project to “improve the condition of the streets” of the city – have considered the impact on humans caused by the removal of so much verdure. Research shows that time spent among trees causes levels of the stress hormone cortisol to decrease, lowers blood pressure, increases the number of active natural killer cells, so boosting immune function – and improves mood and concentration. In Japan, shinrin-yoku, or “forest bathing”, is a widespread approach to improving physical and mental health. Many of these beneficial effects are delivered by both phytoncides – volatile oils released by plants and trees to fend off infection – and by contact with beneficial soil bacteria.
Source: We can’t keep chopping down trees without harming ourselves | Emma Mitchell | Opinion | The Guardian
In May 2012, the Department of Transport expected the tram-train scheme to be completed by Dec 2015. It is now expected to be completed in May 2018.
Source: The Sheffield to Rotherham tram-train project: investigation into the modification of the national rail network – National Audit Office (NAO)
Many wish to re-nationalise the railways, well Network Rail is a public body, with, it appears, a £40 billion debt.
When the Railways were a nationalised industry the investment was never sufficient because nationalised industries are used as a political tool by whichever party is in Government.
Privatisation may not have been ideal, but is that not down to the contracts they signed when the industries were privatised.
Why not get the contracts correct and then see which is better before creating more political tools.
A disabled comedian and activist signed up by Network Rail to launch its new access campaign has criticised its chair after discovering that he called on the government to slash funding to make stations more accessible. Francesca Martinez, who has campaigned against government cuts to support for disabled people, was “shocked” when told by Disability News Service (DNS) of the actions taken by Sir Peter Hendy. Martinez had spent much of the day fronting the launch of Network Rail’s Spaces and Places for Everyone campaign, including giving media interviews backing the campaign. But DNS then told her that Sir Peter had recommended in a spending review for the government that nearly £50 million allocated to the Access for All programme should be delayed until 2019 at the earliest. She said: “This is really important to know because if these cuts are carried out then the impact would no doubt outweigh the positives of the Network Rail campaign. “I’m going to write to Network Rail and put this to
Source: Martinez’s shock over access cuts call as she launches Network Rail campaign | DisabledGo News and Blog
The public body responsible for 18 of Britain’s biggest rail stations is following the lead of the Olympic Delivery Authority and putting disabled people at the heart of its design process, according to its access and inclusion manager. Margaret Hickish – who was awarded an MBE in the New Year’s Honours, and is herself a wheelchair-user – said Network Rail hoped to “lead the way” for the railway industry on improving access and inclusion. One of the ways it hopes to do that, she has told Disability News Service, is by following the lead of the much-praised Olympic Delivery Authority, for which she was accessibility manager. Among the steps she has taken since starting to work with Network Rail three years ago is to set up a built environment accessibility panel (BEAP), mostly made up of disabled people, to advise on access issues. Network Rail has also launched an inclusive design strategy and is about to implement new standards that reflect inclusive design principles, not just for
Source: Network Rail is ‘leading industry on access by following Olympic path’ | DisabledGo News and Blog