TRISTRAM TransItion STRategy on vegetAtion Management


The need for vegetation management goes hand in hand with the need for safe and reliable railway operations. Furthermore, vegetation management reduces risks to customers and personnel.
Vegetation control on railway tracks is a key activity undertaken by railway infrastructure managers to ensure safe and efficient operations. In light of increasing transport requirements, successful and efficient vegetation management in the railways is governed by legislation and regulations at various levels: EU, national, federal, regional (where applicable) and local.

Studies conducted by the UIC Sustainable Land Use Network show that selecting an economical and environmentally friendly vegetation management plan that can be implemented on railway infrastructure in a technical and operational context is effective in minimising the railways’ impact on the environment and optimising their environmental performance.

At present, the purpose of using multiple vegetation control methods is to facilitate the creation of a more productive and attractive landscape resource. The main goals are to minimise unwanted chemical deposits, environmental impact and risks to human health.

The vegetation can currently be controlled effectively by using herbicides, especially conventional chemical herbicides. However, the railways are aware of their responsibilities with regard to a clean and biologically diverse environment. Significant political and public pressure to move away from the use of conventional chemical herbicides is an additional driver for the railways to work on a strategy for transition from well-established conventional methods to integrated vegetation control management.

Since 2019, UIC has been collaborating with its members to develop a holistic approach to integrated vegetation control management on railway tracks. Transitioning from conventional chemical herbicides to integrated vegetation control constitutes a major challenge for the railways, especially in the railway track area, since:

  1. all promising alternative methods of vegetation control, such as hot water, wet steam, organic acids and electro-weeding, are currently
    • in research and development phase,
    • not yet mature enough for large-scale industrial application on the railway track area,
    • required to be officially registered and approved by EU and national authorities.
  2. further research is needed with regard to
    • adaptation to the specific requirements of the railway track area (track geometry, electrical installations or devices, corrosive materials, etc.),
    • automation and improvement of operational speed,
    • improvement of the duration of the effects of treatment (reducing the need for multiple treatments).
  3. conventional chemical herbicide-based methods (i.e. glyphosate) are the most easily accessible on the market and, to date, are the most effective and cost-efficient substances available for vegetation control.
  4. it is not yet clear yet whether it will be possible to completely abandon vegetation control using conventional chemical herbicides in the future.



  1. Progress from a single method-based concept - spraying of conventional chemical herbicides - to an integrated, flexible, multi-method-based approach.
  2. Develop a strategy for transition from conventional chemical herbicides to integrated vegetation control in the railway track area.
  3. Facilitate and promote information and knowledge exchange between the railways on all aspects of integrated vegetation control, with a special focus on investigations into and experience with alternative methods of vegetation control on railway track, including the associated regulatory constraints.
  4. Improve and expand upon the technology-based monitoring and assessment approach developed within the framework of the Herbie project, with a particular focus on acquisition of reliable data to measure the economic and operational performance of alternative methods for vegetation control.
  5. Collect best practices and strategies for supporting integrated vegetation management approaches by means of IT tools and solutions.
  6. Explore options at national and EU level for funding collaborative efforts undertaken by the railways to adapt alternative methods of vegetation control to the railway sector’s specific requirements.

Work Packages

WP1: Global Strategy

  • Task 1.1 Strategy Development
  • Task 1.2 Parameters needed

WP2: Information & Knowledge Exchange

  • Task 2.1. Standard Documentation
  • Task 2.2 Knowledge and Exchange platform
  • Task 2.3 Reporting/ information exchange

WP3: Technology Monitoring & Assessment

  • Task 3.1 Data collection
  • Task 3.2. Upgrade of Assessment Tool
  • Task 3.3. Assessment of results

WP4: IT Tools for integrated Vegetation Management

WP5: Evaluation of Funding Options

  • Task 5.1 Identification of needs
  • Task 5.2 Identification of possible funding options
  • Task 5.3 Preparing the demand for funding

WP6: Supporting the SLU group

Project Participants


  • Austria/ ÖBB: Thomas SCHUH
  • Belgium/ SNCB-NMBS: Elodie VILAINE and Sven van DRIESSCHE
  • Belgium/ Infrabel: Pascale HEYLEN, Stéphane DUFOUR and Jean-Pierre DEFORET
  • Czech Republic/ SZDC: Bohumir TRAVNICEK
  • Finland/ FTA: Susanna KOIVUJARVI
  • France/ SNCF: Jean-Pierre PUJOLS
  • Germany/ DB: Michael BELOW
  • Italy/ FS: Antonio RANUCCI and Serena CUZZOLA
  • Netherland/ ProRail: Jeff DIKS
  • Spain/ ADIF: Pedro PEREZ and Marta RUIZ
  • Sweden/ Trafikverket: Carol BIRGERSSON
  • Switzerland/ SBB: Gunter ADOLPH


  • Norway/ Bane Nor: Gry DAHL
  • Portugal/ Infraestruturas de Portugal: Ana PELLETIER SEQUEIRA


  • Germany/ IZT Institute for Futures Studies and Technology Assessment: Roland NOLTE and Karolina PIETRAS-COUFFIGNAL

Meeting Dates

  • 30 January
  • 10 April
  • 4 June
  • 26 September
  • 21 November
  • 13 February
  • 18 March
  • 4 June
  • 24 September
  • 26 November
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UIC Contact

For any further information please contact: Pınar YILMAZER



UIC e-News, 16 April 2019: UIC Sustainable Land Use (SLU) Network meeting was held on 10 April 2019 in Paris

UIC e-News, 18 February 2020: TRISTRAM Project Meeting held on 13 February 2020 in Paris

UIC e-News, 25 February 2020: UIC is proud to present the UIC Strategy on the Future of Vegetation Control

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