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Garden on the track at Bodmin Parkway


D1041

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I think environmental legislation nuked the railway's ability to spray what it needed where it needed when it needed. That and the enormous reduction in local maintenance staff, able to deal with vegetation before it developed into a problem.

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Just to add to Ian's comments.

I don't see that as it is as a problem. It just does not look very "neat" compared to the "old days". Actually some people may, indeed, prefer the current look.

 

The other day I was passing the NS mainline in New Jersey that uses the old LeHigh Valley line route (just to the south of Westfield, New Jersey). It was so clean, neat and tidy with zero encroachment of weeds that it shocked me with its starkness!

 

Best, Pete.

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I have somewhere a b&w pic of exactly that spot taken in the early 1970s and at that time the track just there was a solid black oily-greasy mess to above rail foot level - a consequence of diesel-hydraulic locos with 'leaky' transmissions and engines. I can but guess that at some time some truly substantial deep ballast cleaning has rendered what was once there sufficiently banished to allow plant life to flourish.

 

And taking the original question - BR's weed killing train(s) at one time used a substance allegedly closely related to the Agent Orange defoliant that was used in Vietnam and when the health effects of that became undeniably noticeable BR had to switch to a much safer (for nearby humans) product for weedkilling; it would also seem to have been much safer for the weeds and other flora that is now some prevalent over much of the network.

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I think environmental legislation nuked the railway's ability to spray what it needed where it needed when it needed. That and the enormous reduction in local maintenance staff, able to deal with vegetation before it developed into a problem.

There was a case (in the South West, IIRC) of someone claiming damages from BR because of health problems caused by overspray from BR's weedkiller trains on to their property (and themselves).

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Mike,

 

Was that chemical: Paraquat?

I remember it being touted as the weedkiller that works (it actually killed everything "green"). Unfortunately around 1976 they discovered it also killed the people using it (with a couple of murders thrown in for good measure).

 

Best, Pete.

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Mike,

Was that chemical: Paraquat?

I remember it being touted as the weedkiller that works (it actually killed everything "green"). Unfortunately around 1976 they discovered it also killed the people using it (with a couple of murders thrown in for good measure).

Best, Pete.

I don't think so Pete - it seems (according to 'net sources) to have been some sort of herbicide cocktail which involved dioxin. I know BR used to use Paraquat for hand sprayed treatment at one time but that too was discontinued - a long time back - for health reasons. Judging by the effect it has in my garden I suspect they might nowadays use the much trumpeted glyphosate based weedkillers - it won't touch my buddleia 'weeds', ivy or bindweed either :angry:

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I thought the ballast needed to be free-draining to stabilize the track properly? If the ballast and all the cesses, not to mention the brickwork of bridges and cuttings, are full of weeds, that's not good, surely? I mean, when I commuted into Charing Cross in the late 1990s I was disturbed by the tree and bush growth on the viaducts. They're still growing, aren't they? Surely sooner or later one is going to need expensive rebuilding - which would have been alleviated by a little basic maintenance.

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I don't think so Pete - it seems (according to 'net sources) to have been some sort of herbicide cocktail which involved dioxin. I know BR used to use Paraquat for hand sprayed treatment at one time but that too was discontinued - a long time back - for health reasons. Judging by the effect it has in my garden I suspect they might nowadays use the much trumpeted glyphosate based weedkillers - it won't touch my buddleia 'weeds', ivy or bindweed either :angry:

2-4-5T, I think- in 1976, I worked for a company which produced small quantities of it for ICI- for some reason, ICI were loath to have the stuff on their own premises.

Glyphosphate will (eventually) kill most things- for the most effective treatment of stuff like bindweed, mix it with some cooking oil and brush it onto the leaves. It also helps to put a plastic bag over the treated area. Both tips came from the chap who treated the bindweed in our front garden- it was actually coming through the air bricks and up through the floorboards in our front room. The treatment was very effective; ten years after, it hasn't re-appeared.

There are actually two weeds which property owners have a statutory duty to treat and kill, IIRC; Japanese Knotweed and Ragwort. The latter is toxic to livestock.

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I thought the ballast needed to be free-draining to stabilize the track properly? If the ballast and all the cesses, not to mention the brickwork of bridges and cuttings, are full of weeds, that's not good, surely?

Indeed, undrained ballast can develop into wet-spots, where passage of trains compressing the track into the ballast encourages the ballast stones to rub together, and because of the presence of water, the essentially sharp-edged stones grind against each other and become smooth, whereupon they hold each other even less well. The track thus bounces beneath each train - not good or safe. You can spot these locations because the slurry from the ground stones pumps nicely every time a train passes, leaving a surrounding mudpatch. I am anything but an engineer, but contact with qualified colleagues 30 years ago included one chap reckoned to have an Honorary Doctorate in Wet Spots on #1 Boat Train Route!

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I looked up Paraquat. It has been banned in the EU since (only) 2007.

 

Kills plants on contact. Inhibits photosynthesis. Major cause of deaths in the Third World by Suicide.

 

A single mouthful -even if immediately spat out- is enough to kill a human (in its undiluted form).

 

It's no wonder people are wary of it being sprayed on railways.......

Of course in the USA it is NOT banned, d'oh.

 

Best, Pete.

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IIRC modern weedkillers need to actually have weeds pressent for them to work. I know it sounds obvious in one sense but the problem with current weedkillers is they must biodegrade in the soil and be water soluable without poluting the water that disolves them. Therefore weedkilling has to be performed more frequently than in the past and in dry weather if plant growth is to be contained, but on the railway this is easier said than done what with heavy route utalisation (spraying trains have a maximum speed of about 40mph while spraying) and the MPVs used for it also having to cover sandite and de icing duties.

 

Naturally the old style weedkiller was much less friendly to people and the enviroment which meant that it would sit in the soil / ballast and remain active for many years, preventing any weeds from germinating. There are tales of ex BR staff who pinched a bit for their own gardens only to find that even 5 years after application, nothing would grow on the treated area - grass, flowers, veg and most weeds.

 

Incidentally due to HSTs still having toilets that discharge onto the track, I imagine that weeds on the Cornish main line do benifit from additional fertaliser every so often. :mosking:

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Incidentally due to HSTs still having toilets that discharge onto the track, I imagine that weeds on the Cornish main line do benifit from additional fertaliser every so often. :mosking:

Of course - that's why the growth is just beyond the platform! Obedient customers are waiting 'til the train restarts before flushing!

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There are members of the large scale garden railway modellers fraternity that would be swooning over that luxurious growth.

 

They (we) spend inordinate amounts of time and experimenting with various concoctions of stale milk and yoghurt trying to accelerate the growth of moss and lichen in and around the pw.

 

The downside was that the ballast looses its ability to drain freely and then the sleepers start to rot

 

Perhaps what has happened here is FGW denying a photographer permission to take photos of their trains, so he threw his yoghurt out of his pram onto the track in a temper tantrum? (And was arrested by BTP for littering :nono: )

 

Regards

 

Richard

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the brickwork of bridges and cuttings, are full of weeds, that's not good, surely? I mean, when I commuted into Charing Cross in the late 1990s I was disturbed by the tree and bush growth on the viaducts. They're still growing, aren't they? Surely sooner or later one is going to need expensive rebuilding - which would have been alleviated by a little basic maintenance.

This is my pet hate, the damage the roots will be doing to the brickwork must be huge and will end up with the bridge/ viaduct needing massive repairs costing millions when all that was needed was a bloke with a ladder to remove the foliage when first noticed, but hey it will come out of a separate budget so who cares and sod the overall costs to the industry.

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One of our drivers had a fit of the giggles a couple of weeks ago, when a (French) signaller asked him to report back on a 'damp patch'.

 

As a former member of the PW union - we've heard all the "rough ride" jokes too :rolleyes:

 

I remember being entered in the Control log and the subject of a group pager message some years ago as "searching for a rough ride at Wadhurst" and receiving several p*ss-taking calls from colleagues that afternoon.................

 

Hardest PW job on the railway too - digging out wet beds - back breaking, dirty, thankless - just the thing for breaking in new trackmen !!!! ............... :devil:

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Guest 34008Padstow

Hope you dont mind me posting a couple of pics on here. These were taken in july of this year. Can be a real nightmare trying to get a decent shot in. Pretty sure at one point thet had tomatoes growing between the sleepers (could be wrong).

 

post-6777-0-40139400-1317830966_thumb.jpg

post-6777-0-60898000-1317831231_thumb.jpg

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