Creating a 'greener' London

We plant and maintain street trees because they deliver environmental, economic and social benefits. Our trees and vegetation are managed to make sure there is no risk to our services, our property or our neighbours' property.

Proximity to green space is linked to increased birth weight in babies as well as increased life expectancy in the elderly. London boroughs with a lot of trees tend to have lower prescription rates for antidepressants.

London's urban forest helps to remove airborne PM10 particulate matter. Trees also contribute to water management by intercepting and holding rainfall, reducing surface water runoff from asphalt by as much as 62% and lowering the costs associated with storm water management.

Woodlands, shrubs, wildflowers and green walls are also part of our green infrastructure. Well-maintained green infrastructure has been shown to reduce crime and even improve driver behaviour.

Maintaining trees and other vegetation

When inspecting vegetation alongside our tracks we typically look for:

  • Tree and vegetation health - dead or diseased trees could break and fall causing a disruption to our service of damage to property
  • Leaf-fall - high numbers of leaves falling on the tracks can disrupt our services
  • Signals and track view - trees and bushes growing near the railway must not obscure train drivers' views of signals and other parts of the railway
  • Embankment stability - trees and vegetation can impact the stability of our embankments which could potentially lead to landslides
  • Invasive species: such as Japanese knotweed, we track and manage their growth/spread using methods approved by the Environment agency

When work needs to be carried out, we do our best to limit disruption to our neighbours. Most of the time this can only be done during the night while the service is not operating.

We're currently running an experiment to encourage biodiversity on road verges.

Wildlife and vermin

The land surrounding our rail tracks acts as a safe haven for wildlife that includes bats, badgers, reptiles and water voles.

Altogether around 550 plant species, 42 bird species, 14 mammals, 538 invertebrate species, three reptile species and three amphibian species have been recorded on our land.

Regular pest control and management is carried out across the network. Litter and unwanted food and water sources pose an ongoing challenge.