With south and west-facing railway embankments and cuttings providing ideal conditions for cold-blooded reptiles to bask in the sun’s warmth, Network Rail’s chosen contractor, Ground Control has cleared trackside vegetation to create the perfect sunbathing spot for snakes and lizards – including Britain’s only poisonous snake, the Adder.

This work has been carried out at Shap Cutting, which had become overgrown with birch and brash providing too much shade for certain species to survive and thrive.

As well as clearing the trees, habitat piles made from logs were built to create refuges for other creatures on the railway cuttings, which should provide a perfect habitat for wildlife to thrive at this location for years to come.

The trees and overgrown plants were cleared using quieter equipment, and by hand, to minimise disturbing wildlife as much as possible.

Matthew Thomas, Network Rail ecologist, said:

When you think of animals living beside the railway, snakes and lizards aren’t perhaps the first ones which spring to mind. But like for so much other wildlife, embankments and cuttings – rarely visited by humans – provide a perfect sanctuary. We used special equipment to quietly clear overgrown trees and plants to provide perfect sunbathing conditions for our cold-blooded Cumbrian creatures at Shap. It’s all part of Network Rail’s commitment to protect the environment while running a safe and reliable railway for passengers and freight.

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