Badgers Cause Delays After Burrowing Under Train Tracks

Badgers can be pesky little animals and they sure do love to dig. Badgers burrowing under rail tracks halted trains in the Netherlands, forcing lengthy cancelations on at least two lines.

All trains were stopped on the line between the southern cities of Den Bosch and Boxtel, Netherlands, after the animals dug into a dike carrying rails. The national railway company announced that the line would be out of service for at least a week while they fixed the tracks.

The digging means “the rails can subside and then the safety of train traffic can no longer be guaranteed,” ProRail, the company that maintains the Dutch rail network said in a statement.

In early March 2023, badgers also burrowed their way under tracks near the northern village of Molkwerum, knocking a line out of service until at least April while workers seek permission to move the animals somewhere else.

Badgers are protected animals in the Netherlands so rail operators are forced to get permission to move them or disturb their habitat before repairs can begin on the rail line. John Voppen, CEO of ProRail, appealed the process in the hopes of speeding up the procedures.

“In the interests of travelers and carriers, more space is needed to be able to take action more quickly,” Voppen said. “We are of course in urgent consultation with the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management about this.”

ProRail said that badgers like digging into the steep sides of the dikes that carry many Dutch train tracks, which can cause the tracks to subside, endangering trains and the people on them.