Brush Cutting

For over 150 years, birds and squirrels have dropped acorns, nuts and seeds from the telegraph and signal wires that parallel our railroad. These incidents have given rise to a tunnel forest that parallels the tracks. If the trees (Coastal Live Oak, Valley Oak, California Bay Laurel, Almond, Olive, Pepper Tree, and others), plus several species of small brush, grow unchecked, they will encroach on the track and risk scratching the paint on our equipment and possibly striking crew and passengers.

Volunteer members of the Maintenance-of-Way (MOW) Department, dedicated to trimming back, and in some instances removing, trees and brush along the right-of-way to comply with Federal Rail Administration rules for clearance and sight-lines around curves.

  • We trim trees back away from the rails and chip the “slash” (felled branches) using our own specially designed railroad-adapted limb chipper.
  • Felling of elevated limbs is accomplished by highly skilled and experienced members working from a 45-foot reach hi-railed aerial bucket truck.
  • Other gang members pick up felled limbs and drag them 20 feet, or so, and feed them into the chipper.

If you have the physical ability to drag something 20 feet without tripping and falling, you have all the skills you need to start out. We will teach you everything else you need to know to enhance your proficiency.

You need all the standard safety gear you would wear in an industrial environment:

  • Work boots or sturdy shoes with a defined heel.
  • Safety helmet.
  • Eye protection
  • Ear protection.
  • Sturdy long-sleeve shirt or coveralls.
  • Work gloves.
  • Lunch

No other tools needed. If you received a chainsaw as a gift and want to practice under skilled supervision, bring it. If you are deathly allergic to Poison Oak, let us know. I am very sensitive to poison oak, but seldom get a rash because I recognize the plant and avoid it.

We provide chilled bottled water and Gatoraid for free. We provide a Port-o-Pottie and wash station that rolls along the tracks with the work train.

We usually work on the 4th Saturday of the month. We assemble around 8:00 AM in Brightside yard, and leave for the field around 9:00 AM. We generally finish our work around 4:00 in the afternoon and start the trip back to the yard. We take a lunch break where ever we are working in the field around Noon to about 12:30.

Trimming east of Farwell Bridge – 05.06.2023
Photo by Chris Hauf – Used with permission
Our tie crane has been adapted to help pick-up and move cut limbs and brush the chipper.
Photo by Chris Hauf – Used with permission
Chipping the slash.
Photo by Chris Hauf – Used with permission