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Expert Japanese Knotweed Services for the Rail Sector

Table of Contents

The Importance of Invasive Species Management

At Knotweed Services we know how big of an impact invasive species like Japanese Knotweed can have on our ecosystems and robust rail infrastructure. It’s our duty to tackle this problem head on and use our expertise to protect not just our natural heritage but the lifeblood of our transport systems.

When Knotweed gets into railway environments the stakes are high. This persistent weed, along with other invasive weeds, can undermine the very foundations of our railways – from eroding rail beds to damaging structures and obscuring sightlines for safe railway operation. Professional weed removal is key to keeping network rail services safe and running.

Our team are accredited by the Property Care Association (PCA) and we understand the importance and complexities of invasive species management. We have bespoke removal and treatment protocols and use targeted interventions that not only remove the invasive species but do so in a way that is environmentally friendly and compliant with regulations.

The Challenge of Japanese Knotweed

Historically, Network Rail has managed railway embankments and cuttings to curtail excessive vegetation. However, a shift in these practices may have inadvertently nurtured the proliferation of species like Japanese Knotweed. These invasive species find these areas particularly accommodating, allowing them to fortify their presence and intensify the challenges of management.

The spread of Japanese Knotweed also affects Network Rail infrastructure, as seen in the legal case of Williams v Network Rail Infrastructure Ltd, where the company was held accountable for the spread to neighbouring properties.

The robust roots and rhizomes of Japanese Knotweed are known to penetrate deeply into the soil. This insidious growth can lead to structural damage as it exploits vulnerabilities in foundations and construction.

A Serious Ecological Threat

Japanese Knotweed is a big problem for railways because it grows so fast and can’t be stopped (unless treated professionally). It can damage structures and invade local ecosystems. It can grow up to 2.1m (7ft) high. One of the worst things about Japanese Knotweed is the rhizome root fragments which can regrow into new plants from pieces as small as 1cm, making it impossible to control and remove.

The damage caused by this plant is due to the formation of dense mats which outcompete and suffocate native flora, resulting in loss of biodiversity. The root system is also deep into tarmac and concrete. These breaches can compromise the stability of the railway embankments and tracks. Japanese Knotweed and its destruction is a risk to the structure and safety of the railway. Maintenance teams play a crucial role in managing this ecological threat by efficiently and effectively removing the invasive weed.


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Our Expertise in Rail Sector Knotweed Management

We offer a full range of services for the rail industry, including management, invasive weed control, tree services, site clearance, ecological assessments and maintenance.

The Knotweed Services team are experts in the rail environment and the challenges it presents. Our expertise is not just technical, it’s rooted in a deep understanding of the railway and its importance in our daily lives and economy. We give our clients the tools and knowledge to create landscapes that are not only Knotweed free but also safe and efficient for transportation. We also offer bespoke training for rail staff on invasive species identification and management so the rail industry can operate safely, sustainably and efficiently. Dedicated teams are key to effective weed control so the railways can remain clear and operational.

Maintaining rail systems is essential for optimal performance, and our services are designed to support this goal.

Safety and ecological integrity form the pillars of our approach to rail sector knotweed management.

Practical Solutions for Rail Infrastructure

At the heart of tackling the challenge of invasive species along our railways lies a need for a deep understanding, an authoritative stance, and an innovative mindset. For us, it’s all about ensuring safety and keeping our railways running smoothly, with minimal disruption.

Our approach to problem-solving is agile—which means we’re always a step ahead in the rail sector. We’re committed to maintaining a safe and eco-friendly environment, making our railways not just a means of transport but a thriving ecosystem that supports sustainable practices.

Managing Invasive Species for the Rail Industry

We provide tailored services to the unique needs of the rail sector. From site clearance to Knotweed management, we have extensive experience working with clients like Metro Rail. Professional weed removal services are crucial to keep the tracks clear and safe for travel, addressing the challenges and negative impacts of invasive weeds.

Every solution we provide is not just practical but also forward-thinking. We understand the balance between operational efficiency and ecological responsibility, and our services reflect that understanding. Our site clearance and tree works enhance railway functionality and environmental integrity.

Why Choose Our Expert Japanese Knotweed Services for the rail sector?

We are committed to delivering eco-friendly solutions all across the UK rail network, keeping environmental responsibility and sustainability at the forefront of our services.

Our extensive knowledge and experience in rail sector knotweed management equip us with the ability to offer strategic, cost-effective solutions. These are designed to minimise risks while fitting seamlessly within the operational constraints of rail services. We understand the intricacies involved and work diligently to ensure compliance without disrupting railway schedules.

We are also an approved RISQS member. RISQS, which stands for Railway Industry Supplier Qualification Scheme, is a pre-qualification scheme that provides a single standard registration, qualification, and audit process for suppliers procured by the UK rail industry. It is the primary platform used by the rail industry in Great Britain to verify the qualifications and capabilities of suppliers in terms of safety, assurance, and compliance.

Being RISQS accredited means a supplier has gone through the rigorous qualification process and has proven that they meet the high standards of health, safety, environmental, operational, and financial management required to work within the UK’s rail industry. Accreditation involves passing an audit that assesses performance in critical areas, and it confirms that the supplier is capable of delivering work effectively within the railway environment.

For a company, RISQS accreditation is essential for doing business within the UK rail industry. It is often a prerequisite for being allowed to bid on contracts or provide services and products to the railways. It also gives a company a competitive edge by assuring potential clients that they adhere to industry standards.

Choosing our expert services means partnering with a team that’s dedicated to creating a safer, more sustainable future for transportation networks. Let us help you maintain your railway infrastructure with the utmost environmental care and expertise.



A tried and tested methodology used on hundreds of sites across the UK.

Using the screening method, the Japanese knotweed rhizome material is separated from the soil material. The Japanese knotweed material is then either transported to licensed landfill at a much lower disposal rate or incinerated on site using a D6 exemption from the Environment Agency or Natural Resources Wales.

The cleaned soils can then be reused in locations away from any construction, normally in soft landscaping areas.

This can reduce the landfill & backfill requirement costs significantly and can also help to reduce the carbon footprint on site due to reduced vehicle movements to landfill.


Knotweed Services can provide a biosecurity operative to supervise any excavations and movement of soils containing Japanese knotweed on site. 

As part of these measures, we can provide a biosecurity boot wash and machine-washing area installed in an area at the entrance to the site.
We will provide all toolbox talks for the main contractor on site, which will be signed by all contractors involved in the operation on site.

We can provide temporary geotextile barriers if required in areas to maintain the biosecurity on site.

Once the works have been completed, we will provide the client with a full biosecurity report.

This method can be used in conjunction with other treatment methods on site.

Commercial Japanese Knotweed Excavation


This treatment method is ideal where time constraints are present and there’s no other option other than to remove both the Japanese Knotweed and contaminated soil to a registered landfill.

By removing all traces of the infestation quickly, this offers a rapid solution to your problem and allows your commercial project to begin groundwork’s almost straight away. When time is of the essence, there is no quicker Japanese Knotweed removal/treatment method.

Any waste taken off-site will be done so with a licensed waste carrier to a suitably authorised landfill site.

Japanese Knotweed Cell Burial


Cell burial comprises of moving Knotweed contaminated soil from one location on site, burying it in an excavated pit which is lined with a root barrier membrane, in a different position on the site.

The burial requirements for Japanese Knotweed are as follows:

  • The Environment Agency recommends that the top of the burial cell should be a minimum of 2 metres below ground level.
  • The overall depth of the burial pit should be in excess of 5 metres deep. All root barrier seams are welded together forming an encapsulated cell from which the Japanese Knotweed cannot escape. Clean soil is then used to backfill on top of the cell.
  • To prevent accidental disturbance of the burial site, it is recorded on all site plans and future land owners should be made aware of the location.


Bunding is the method of relocating contaminated Japanese Knotweed soil to a different area of the site being treated. A bund is a shallow area of the contaminated soil, typically 0.5m deep.

The bund can either be raised, on top of the ground, or placed within an excavation to make the surface flush with the surrounding area.

The purpose of the bund is to move the Japanese Knotweed to an area of the site that is not used. This ‘buys time’ for treatment that would not be possible where the Japanese Knotweed was originally located.


At Knotweed Services we can provide the client with bespoke treatment plans depending on the locations of the Japanese knotweed. 

These plans can work in conjunction with other methods of treatment where access is limited to pedestrian movements i.e., embankments or existing pathways within a site.

This will normally consist of up to 3 visits per annum to apply herbicide by either foliar spray technique or stem injection during the growing season over a period of 3 years, with a monitoring period of 2 years thereafter.

We would select the appropriate herbicides depending on the surrounding foliage or environmental constraints.

After each visit a full treatment record would be provided with photos showing the progress of the works and then an annual report.

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