REVVING chainsaws have kept residents awake in the early hours as they claim rail workers ‘massacre’ trees beside tracks in Sheffield.
People in Chapeltown criticised Network Rail for pruning trees at unsociable hours. They asked why so many trees had to be felled beside the Sheffield-Barnsley line.
Wendy Highfield, who lives with partner Alan McGilveray and daughter Ruby, aged 10, in Chambers View, Chapeltown, next to the line, is among residents who complained to Penistone and Stocksbridge Labour MP Angela Smith.
Network Rail said it had to chop down lineside vegetation to reduce the risk of leaves on the line, which delay trains in autumn and for safety, to give train drivers a clear view of signals.
Wendy, who works for a food company, said: “They’ve been at work the last three Saturday nights from 11pm until 7am with four chainsaws going. We didn’t get any sleep. Our house is very close to the railway line.
“The work has been done without any consultation and without consideration for residents. They have removed every tree in sight on the embankment. There is no longer a barrier between our home and diesel fumes from the trains. If one was to come off the track it would end up right in our house.”
Ms Smith and neighbours including Peter Marshall contacted Network Rail asking it to halt the work and meet residents to discuss their complaints.
She said: “A lot of people said they weren’t consulted.”
The company has been criticised for tree-felling around Sheffield including south of Dore and Totley station and at Dronfield.
Mr Marshall, aged 67, a member of Thorncliffe Conservation Group, said: “It’s been a chainsaw massacre. The work has been massively heavy-handed - they have been taking down trees well away from the line which have trunks more than a foot thick.
“I’m a keen ornithologist and am waiting to see the impact on birds. It’s too late to stop what’s happened in our area but Network Rail should learn lessons.”
Network Rail declined to halt the project and said it plans to complete the work this week.
A spokesman said: “Trackside vegetation can obscure signals or get blown onto the line and cause problems for trains as they brake and accelerate, causing delays and disruption to passengers.
“This vegetation management was essential as part of our ongoing maintenance programme and every effort was made to minimise the impact on local people.
“Work is often required to take place when trains are not running, including overnight, but we will always keep noise to a minimum. Staff are always briefed on working responsibly.”