Manchester Metrolink – Ecology Surveys

  • Project title

    Manchester Metrolink - Baseline Vegetation Survey and Habitats Management Plan

  • Project value


  • Lead handler + team members

    Dr Andy Ainsworth, Ecology Team

  • Clients

    Keolis Amey Metrolink

  • Dates of project

    Start: 01/05/2019

    End: 30/11/2019

Ecology surveys and management plan on the Manchester Metrolink network

During 2019 Ecus was appointed to deliver a baseline survey of vegetation and biodiversity across the whole of the Manchester Metrolink network on behalf of Keolis Amey Metrolink (KAM).

KAM has contractual requirements with Transport for Greater Manchester to produce a management plan, maintain trackside vegetation in line with Network Rail standards, alongside obligations to manage trees, ornamental planting and invasive species.

The Metrolink network spans 57 miles (91km) and includes 93 stations and depots. The objective was to set a baseline of vegetation and habitat on the network, including Depots and Stations using Extended Phase 1 Habitat Assessment mapped onto GIS, including a condition report of the fence line on the boundary. In addition, to set a strategy for vegetation and habitat use in consultation with interested parties, and to develop and produce a management plan for planning vegetation removal, management, habitat management, protected species risk assessment and fence conditions report.

Collaboration with KAM and data quality assurance

We produced the project programme collaboratively with KAM to ensure safe and timely access to all areas of the network, including obtaining track permits and planning the rail-specific safety requirements. Our Regional Manager in the North West provided KAM with weekly updates against the programme on a conference call.

We maintained monthly meetings to review progress against programme and to review the data and GIS. This is part of a rigorous “progressive assurance” process which enabled us to review data and develop the vegetation and habitats plan iteratively and in collaboration with KAM. This ensures the outputs are developed in line with KAM’s objectives and contractual requirements.

Our survey team provided KAM with a report as soon as they identify any issues with vegetation impacts on the network, problem trees or invasive species. Sometimes this can be daily.

Health and Safety

Our ecologists undertaking the surveys are Personal Track Safety certified working under the control of the Person in Charge and Lookout provided by our Rail Safety Advisers.

All work is carried under a Safe System of Work (SSoW) prepared by our Rail Safety Advisers and all staff are briefed prior to the work commencing in line with our Railway Industry Supplier Qualification Scheme (RISQS) accredited management system.

All field work, irrespective of whether track side or not, is undertaken only after the preparation of an Ecus Risk Assessment and Method Statement as controlled by our Quality Management System.

Project management

This strategically important and geographically extensive project required a multi-disciplinary team. There were also key issues to manage with regards to safety and with data management, quality and control.

Dr Andrew Ainsworth our North West Regional Manager managed the successful delivery of this project. The desk studies, surveys and delivery of the digital mapping was carried out by our team of PTS certified ecologists. The management and enhancement plans are developed under the supervision of our Technical Director for Ecology and our National Head of Ecology, both based in the North West.

Resource and cost management

Where trees of interest are identified we engage our Arboricultural team to undertake further assessments and provide recommendations for actions, including in some cases, removal. This entailed consultation and communication with a range of stakeholders, including KAM, local councillors and residents associations.

We use Synergist, our project and cost management software to monitor and manage the allocation of resources, programme management, project costs and budget control. Synergist enables real time monitoring of time allocated, time spent, and invoicing against programme. This ensures our project manager has up to date information on project performance to enable him to manage this complex project effectively.

Train at sunset 1920x400