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Sydney Trains boss Howard Collins has given an assurance beautiful fig trees at Sutherland station won't be cut down.
"Personally, I am a great tree lover," said Mr Collins, a Sutherland Shire resident, who catches the train to work from Woolooware station.
Mr Collins was responding to concerns expressed by Sutherland Shire Council about a Sydney Trains draft policy for managing trees on the rail corridor.
The council has written to the rail authority saying changes to the first draft do not go far enough.
Mr Collins said there were no plans to remove every tree within 10 metres of the track.
That distance referred to planting new trees, not to existing trees, he said.
"Like all things, when you get into bureaucratic speak, it's easy to misinterpret some of the information," he said.
"First of all, that beautiful big tree near Sutherland station is staying.
"There are no plans to remove the big fig trees close to the line at Sutherland.
"All we do is make sure they don't get near or interfere with our electrical system."
Mr Collins said there were types of electrical infrastructure that needed to be protected from falling tree branches.
The high voltage wires distribution network, run between very high poles, was the major consideration, with low level electrical infrastructure within the rail corridor also needing protection.
"We don't want a repeat of an incident in the Blue Mountains in 2011 when a train was almost chopped in half by a falling tree," he said.
"We inspect the rail corridor and, of the thousands of trees, there are a number which have some form of disease or are old and we remove them.
"I assure people we are not going to chop down beautiful large trees without a very good reason.
"If there is a large tree that is diseased, we will take the matter to the local council and explain to them and residents to let them understand."
Mr Collins said Sydney Trains was "a great supporter of biodiversity".
"We know the rail corridor is quite often a big place to have biodiversity because it is a buffer betwen development," he said.
In a separate statement, a Sydney Trains spokeswoman said the authority "takes its environmental responsibilities seriously and does not remove trees unless they pose a significant risk to public safety or the safety of the rail network".
"Sydney Trains' Tree Management Plan was prepared to assist landholders in understanding their obligations in relation to electrical safety," she said.
"The plan offers general guidelines on maintaining safe distances between trees and Sydney Trains' high voltage powerlines. It also makes recommendations on tree species.
"Our usual practice is to trim trees around our high voltage powerlines not remove them.
This article first appeared on www.theleader.com.au
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