Our railways run through cities, towns and countryside across Wales and we share our tracks with a diverse array of wildlife and plants.
Our work delivering the greener, more efficient South Wales Metro requires us to strike a balance between respecting the natural environment and helping it flourish, as well as carrying out the essential work to deliver this transformative project.
The South Wales Metro
The South Wales Metro project is the biggest upgrade to transport in Wales for generations. It’s a multi-million pound project which will see 170km of tracks electrified, £800m spent on new electric tram trains, upgrades to stations and signaling across as well as the construction of at least five new stations.
To achieve this, we’ll need to do a lot of work around the railways, including cutting back vegetation so our services can run safely and installing new Overhead Line Equipment (OLE) to power Metro.
As a public body in Wales, all of our work is done in consideration of the Future Generations Act (2015). Part of this means we have a legal obligation to improve our environmental well-being. Everything we do is in accordance with the Act – from replanting trees to carrying out vegetation management works during the times when its least harmful to wildlife.
What environmental benefits will Metro have?
The South Wales Metro will bring a host of environmental benefits to the Cardiff Capital Region.
We're spending £800m replacing the old, diesel-powered Pacer trains which serve the Core Valleys Lines with brand-new tram-trains. They are quieter and produce far less CO2 than the outgoing trains.
Better, more reliable public transport will also mean that less people will have to use their cars, easing the strain on the congested roads around the Cardiff Capital Region.
We're also making our stations more environmentally friendly. We’ll be installing bat and bird boxes as well as green roofs and walls.
We're also improving active travel routes, such as footpaths and cycle-ways throughout our network so you'll see more planting on these routes.
How're you protecting the environment?
We aim to avoid any impact on biodiversity. If that’s not at all possible, we’ll seek to minimise our impact. We’ll seek to improve ecosystems if they’re in a poor state and degraded, and we’ll offset any trees we cut down by planting new ones. For instance we've started planting 20 hectacres of trees near Llanwern.
We work closely with Natural Resources Wales to make sure our vegetation maintenance work is carried out at the least damaging time for wildlife. We avoid nesting and breeding seasons for birds and other wildlife, including dormice, bats, crested newts, badgers and otters.
Where appropriate, we’ll also use by-products of our vegetation work to make log and brash piles for wildlife to nest in near the lines.
Why are you cutting down trees and bushes?
The vegetation around the Core Valleys Lines lines has become overgrown. When we took over running these lines one of our first jobs has been to cut back the growth around the lines so our services can run safely and smoothly, as well as to make way for Metro.
We need to make way for the Overhead Line Equipment required for our new, greener electric tram trains. Overgrown vegetation, like overhanging trees and bushes, also creates danger for our passengers and drivers by getting in the way of vitally important signaling. It can also mean delays and disruptions to services.
Are you replanting trees?
Yes, we’ll offset any trees we fell by planting new ones. But they won’t be next to the line. This is because we need to keep the area around the train tracks clear to maintain a safe and reliable service.
We've begun replanting 37,000 trees and and introducing 1,000 dormice boxes to a 20 hectare site in Llanwern.
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