Badger tunnels stop traffic on Dutch railways

  • By Marita Moloney
  • BBC News

image source, Good pictures

image caption,

A badger (file image)

Badgers burrowing under railway tracks have wreaked havoc on train services in the Netherlands, causing cancellations and line closures.

Trains in the north and south of the country were affected, with some services suspended for at least a week.

The line between Den Bosch and Baxtel in the south was closed on Tuesday after the mammals burrowed under the tracks.

Officials said it was unclear how long the problem would continue as badgers are a protected species.

Jan Voppen, CEO of ProRail, the company that maintains the Dutch rail network, said it was the second time in a week that services had been suspended due to badger activity.

He said it could take a significant amount of time to deal with the problem, as train operators need permission to move the animals or disturb their habitat.

A study in recent days showed the badgers were digging more actively, which had direct consequences for the safety of the tracks, ProRail said.

Excavation means that the tracks are down and endangering the safety of rail traffic.

The Den Bosch-Boxtel-Eindhoven line is an important link connecting the north and the south, and passenger and freight trains on the line will be affected until at least next Tuesday.

Earlier this month in the north, badgers burrowed under railway tracks near Molkverum in Friesland province, causing services on one line to be suspended until next month.

Railway workers plan to build a sand dune there where badgers can dig their homes.

Mr Voppen said ProRail was in emergency talks with the Ministry of Infrastructure following the shutdowns.

“Co-existence with the badger is very intriguing for ProRail,” the company says on its website, adding that the goal was to ensure “safe rail transport and a thriving badger”.

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