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July 26, 2021

Network Rail constructs first beaver tunnel in Scotland

Network Rail commenced the work after procuring the suitable licenses to work in the SSSI.

Network Rail has built the first beaver tunnel under the Highland Main Line in Scotland to help protected species move under the railway.

The ‘beaver pass’ will help in mitigating flooding problems caused by the animals building dams across the railway’s drainage ducts under the line.

For this project, the engineers placed an extra 45mm pipe through an existing bigger culvert drain, along with the wild mesh on both sides.

Network Rail said in a statement: “The Tay catchment around Perth has a growing beaver population and is a recent example of an area where their impact was felt on the rail network and a solution was needed to a flooding issue caused when a resident pair of beavers damned a culvert under the track.”

A duct near the Gleneagles area, which is part of a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) designated for wet woodland, scrub and fen meadow habitats, experienced flooding due to a blockage caused by part of a beaver lodge.

Network Rail commenced the work after procuring the suitable licenses to work in the SSSI and working with species specialists at NatureScot.

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In a span of few days, the team pumped out the water from the area, before removing the 2m-high and 5m-wide beaver dam by hand.

The installation of the beaver pass was done in accordance with Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) best practice guidelines for transforming culverts.

Network Rail Scotland ecologist James Morrison said: “To a beaver, a culvert probably looks like a hole in a dam, the barriers they build to restrict the flow of water so they are very popular damming spots.

“The action we took near Gleneagles is the first beaver pass installed in the country that we are aware of. It is a repeatable solution which works to protect Scotland’s Railway, as well as safeguarding the beaver populations and other wildlife.”

In a separate development, Network Rail has concluded a $3.85m (£2.8m) upgrade project to replace Manton railway bridge in Rutland, which was more than 150 years old.

Last week, Network Rail selected Thales to develop and install a new signalling communications system on the East Coast Main Line.

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