UK infrastructure manager Network Rail (NR) and Chiltern Railways have announced that new habitats will be created beside the rail link connecting Oxford to London Marylebone.
More than 10,000m2 will be created along a 5km two-track railway and existing track layouts, which are being modernised between Oxford Parkway and Oxford stations. New bridges are also being built and beds will be widened on the rail link.
The proposed space will including more than 11,000 trees, wildflower grasslands, and hedgerows, which will be home to newts, reptiles, badgers, bats, butterflies, and swallows.
Ponds are included in the design intended for great crested newts. These will be monitored to collect data on the species.
Two replacement swallow nesting shelters will also be constructed.
Network Rail’s senior programme manager Andy Milne said: "When you’re carrying out a major railway upgrade like this, cutting back lineside vegetation is unavoidable. But wherever we have had to fell a tree, we replace it with an evergreen species more suitable for a modern railway corridor.
"We are replacing valuable line-side ecosystems, with animals such as badgers and great-crested newts being sensitively relocated."
Work is taking place ahead of Chiltern Railways’ new train services this year.
Chiltern Railways director Steve Barker said: "Following the launch of services between Oxford Parkway and London Marylebone in October 2015, work now continues to extend services to Oxford city centre by December 2016.
"Minimising our environmental impact is a crucial element of the project. For example, 10 artificial badger setts were built and are in use along the route. We have already seen young badger cubs being cared for by their mother next to one of the purpose-built setts."
Image: The rare Duke of Burgundy butterfly. Photo: courtesy of Network Rail.