KOBE – West Japan Railway Co. and Suma Aqualife Park in Kobe have jointly developed a system to prevent turtles from getting caught between railway switches.
They found out from experiments that when turtles trying to cross the tracks fall into the space between them, they have no other choice but to walk between the rails, leading them to get stuck at the junctions.
When the point blades move, the turtles get squashed, disrupting train service.
To help them, JR West built five U-shaped concrete ditches under the tracks close to the switch points.
JR West staff check the ditches during their monthly track check, rescue any turtles and send any that have fallen into the ditch to the aquarium.
The ditches were built at two stations in Nara Prefecture in April and November and a total of 10 turtles were saved from death.
“The system prevents turtles from getting into accidents and avoids causing trouble for our passengers. We hope to continue using it,” said a JR West official.
Disruptions of train operation caused by turtles were reported 13 times in Kyoto and Nara between 2002 and 2014.