Railway company criticised for lack of action on weed

NOT HAPPY From left, Kevin Saunders in his back garden with neighbours Valerie McDermott and Pat Huxford and some of the Russian vine. Picture: Sarah Standing (14564-3680)
NOT HAPPY From left, Kevin Saunders in his back garden with neighbours Valerie McDermott and Pat Huxford and some of the Russian vine. Picture: Sarah Standing (14564-3680)

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A MAN has spoken of his anger after Network Rail delayed work to remove an invasive weed that has grown over into his garden and damaged a tree.

Kevin Saunders, from The Crossway, Portchester, said he is infuriated by Network Rail as he has complained for nearly a year about the weed and it has done little to act, despite carrying out track repairs in the night.

Mr Saunders, 45, said: ‘I want them to treat the weed but they said they can’t until it flowers.

‘It’s not good enough. I get woken up at 3.30am when they have a grinder on the railway line and sparks are flying up. They have had a year to clear the weed, in the summer it goes ballistic.’

Mr Saunders, a shift operations manager, said the problem has been caused by fallopia baldschuanica, a relative of Japanese knotweed known as Russian vine, and it has affected at least five gardens. It has become so bad his elderly neighbour had to have a tree cut down over safety concerns as the vine was strangling it.

He encouraged people affected by overgrowing vegetation to complain to Network Rail so the firm realises it is a serious problem and tackles it.

A Network Rail spokesman said: ‘Our contractors attended Mr Saunders’ property on February 14 to cut back overgrown vegetation.

‘Any properties where Japanese knotweed is found are entered onto our register for regular treatment for three to five years, which involves seasonal treatment of a herbicide solution.

‘If Mr Saunders is unhappy with our approach we would ask him to get back in touch.’

News gardening expert Brian Kidd said Russian vine grows so rapidly it is known as ‘mile-a-minute’.

He said the way to get rid of it is to cut the stems down to about four inches and allow it to start to grow again.

On a calm day, with no wind, spray the new growths with SBK Brushwood Killer and apply evenly with a pump up sprayer all over the foliage. The product only works when the foliage is sprayed.

Mr Kidd said: ‘It really does grow incredibly rapidly.’

The Royal Horticultural Society lists Russian vine as a garden ‘thug’ plant as it can quickly get out of hand, even though it is not regarded as a weed and is sold in garden centres.

The society warns to ‘think carefully about introducing it and be prepared to carry out judicious pruning’.