Badgers are paralyzing rail traffic in the Netherlands
Badgers digging under railway tracks have wreaked havoc on rail traffic in the Netherlands, causing many canceled and closed lines. Trains in the north and south of the country are the most affected, and some traffic lines have been stopped for a week. The line between Den Bosch and Boxtel in the south has been closed since yesterday, after the mammals dug tunnels under the tracks, reports "BBC".
Officials said it was unclear how long the problem would continue because badgers are a protected species. John Wopen, chief executive of ProRail - the company that maintains the Dutch rail network - said it was the second time in a week that services had been halted due to badger problems.
He said the problem could take a significant amount of time to resolve because trains need permission to move the animals or disturb their habitat.
The inspection in recent days showed that the badgers were much more actively digging, which had direct consequences for the safety of the railways, ProRail said. The Den Bosch-Boxtel-Eindhoven route 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 also dug under railway tracks near Molkverum in Friesland province, causing services on one line to be suspended until next month.
The railwaymen plan to build a sandhill there where the badgers can dig their homes. Wopen said ProRail was in urgent discussions with the Ministry of Infrastructure following the shutdown.
"To live together with the badger is quite difficult for ProRail," the company said on its website, adding that the aim was to ensure "safe train traffic and a free life for the badger".