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Rare fish rescued during railway repair work in Cannock

Ecologists have helped to rescue some rare fish during work to upgrade a waterway culvert in Staffordshire.

One of the White Clawed Crayfish recovered from the Wash Brook

Network Rail experts rescued 22 white clawed crayfish, along with another 430 other fish, during work on the Chase line near Cannock.

The £700,000 investment will protect the tracks above on the important link from Walsall through Cannock to connect with the West Coast main line at Rugeley.

Brickwork in the Victorian-built culvert which diverts Wash Brook under the railway was starting to bow so it's been lined with pre-made Glass Reinforced Plastic piping to prevent the structure from future collapse.

Ten sections measuring 1.9m high, 3 metres long and each weighing 1.5 tonnes, have been winched into position and slid inside the existing structure.

To do this the watercourse needed to be drained with specialist ecologists there to make sure no wildlife was harmed.

As the water was lowered, any fish which became marooned were safely caught and released further downstream.

To avoid distressing the fish, they were gently stunned using a low electric current which passes through the water so they can be caught in nets.

They were then placed in a bucket and logged before they are released back into the open water.

Andrew Campuzano, Network Rail ecologist, said: “We weren’t expecting to find white clawed crayfish here, and because they are so rare, we notified the Environment Agency then took extra care to relocate them downstream.

“This has been a complex project to help water flow more freely under the railway to protect the Chase line above and provide a more reliable railway for passengers and freight.

"We do all of this in tandem with making sure any work we do has minimal impact on the environment.”

Mike Lally, Network Rail Works Delivery manager, said: "This has been a challenging job and it's one of the first I've done using Glass Reinforced Plastic to line a culvert like this.

"It's all be done in collaboration with the Environment Agency and our ecologists overseeing the work to make sure it has the least impact on the brook itself."

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