World

Badger tunnels halt traffic on Dutch railways

March 22, 2023
A badger
A badger

AMSTERDAM — Badgers burrowing below 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 have been affected, with some services halted for at least a week.

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

Officials said it was not clear how long the problem would continue as badgers were a protected species.

John 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 stopped because of badger activity.

He said the problem could take a significant amount of time to tackle as train operators needed permission to move the animals or disturb their habitat.

An inspection in recent days showed the badgers had been digging much more actively, which had direct consequences for the safety of the tracks, ProRail said.

The digging meant tracks could subside, putting the safety of rail traffic at risk, it added.

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

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

Railway workers are planning to build a sandy hillock there where the badgers can dig their homes.

Voppen said ProRail were in emergency talks with the infrastructure ministry following the shutdowns.

"Living together with the badger is quite a puzzle for ProRail," the company says on its website, adding that the goal was to ensure "safe train traffic and a flourishing badger". — BBC


March 22, 2023
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