Network Rail Brings New Life to Land Near Lowestoft Station

Planting the willows. Councillor Ryan Harvey (left) with Network Rail engineers Stewart Cowan and Liam Allen

A team from Network Rail has cleared an area of disused railway land just to the west of Lowestoft station, planting 30 young willow trees to boost biodiversity.

The land, which sits about 500 metres west of the station, is between the railway line and Denmark Road. It was once allotments but became overgrown and has also attracted fly-tipping.

After clearing the area of fly-tipped rubbish and overgrown vegetation, the team planted willow trees, adding sleeves to protect them while they are young.

Colleagues from Network Rail were joined at the planting by Suffolk County Councillor Ryan Harvey.

Network Rail now intends to work with the council, community groups and schools to see how the green space could be used and further transformed, perhaps with vegetable planting or a nature trail.

As well as improving the appearance of the land for lineside neighbours, and potentially providing a space for the community, the planting of the willow trees will help contribute to biodiversity.

The railway is one of Britain’s biggest landowners and is also a natural refuge for a vast range of plants and animals. Network Rail is committed to protecting these species by maintaining their habitats and creating new ones.

Plants, hedgerows, shrubs and wildflowers are being planted along the railway to increase biodiversity and offset losses from essential vegetation management. By April, Network Rail’s Anglia route alone will have planted the equivalent of 2000 trees in one year, including the willows at Lowestoft.

Liam Allen, Network Rail Anglia route engineer for drainage and lineside, said: “We wanted to convert this unsightly piece of land into a space that can contribute to both the community and the environment. The railway has an important responsibility as a major landowner and neighbour, and we are determined to make a difference wherever we can.”

Councillor Ryan Harvey from Suffolk County Council said: “My time with the Network Rail team was enjoyable and informative. As we were planting the trees, we discussed various exciting opportunities for putting the land to good use by the community. It was also comforting to hear about the railway’s commitment to protect and improve our environment. I look forward to working collaboratively with Network Rail to see what we can achieve together.”

Lowestoft station, operated by Greater Anglia, is on both the East Suffolk Lines and the Wherry Lines. Passengers on these lines each have a Community Rail Partnership, bringing together local government, transport operators and community groups.