Barnsley railway tree removal 'blights' trackside homes

Image caption,
The removal of hundreds of trees has left houses in Fairfield Gardens exposed to higher noise levels

People living on a street in Barnsley say their homes have been devalued after hundreds of trees which screened them from a railway were cut down.

The trees near Elsecar Railway Station were removed at the weekend by rail infrastructure company Network Rail.

The company said the trees had been cut down because leaves on the line had made the track unsafe.

But residents said their properties had been impaired by increased noise levels and a "ruined" view from their gardens.

Emma and Tom Hebdige, whose house in Fairfield Gardens overlooks the track, said the removal of the trees had increased noise levels

"The noise has trebled," Mr Hebdige told BBC News.

"We couldn't really hear them, but now, obviously, there's no trees shielding it."

Mrs Hebdige said: "The view from our window is completely ruined.

"All we can see is the embankment of the railway, trains passing, rubbish on the embankment.

Image caption,
Before the work the trees acted as a screen

"We've got no wildlife left, no birds in the garden, it's just horrendous.

"It has devalued the house overnight because if we'd have seen that view before we bought the property we wouldn't have ever bought it."

Network Rail sent a letter to residents warning them that "vegetation management" work was to be carried out on Sunday.

However, residents said in previous years this had only involved thinning out the trees.

This time every tree along the stretch of railway was cut down.

Janice Weller, who also lives in Fairfield Gardens, said: "It's basically like a big building's been knocked down behind our house. It's so much open sky that wasn't there before.

"There was a barrier from the houses across the road and the noise. Everything is totally different."

Network Rail said the work was completed to protect the safety and reliability of the railway.

Train operators had reported issues caused by falling leaves, creating the equivalent of black ice on the rails.

The company said it also had to make sure drivers had a clear view of signals and that staff had safe access to carry out trackside maintenance.

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