Badgers Burrow Under Train Tracks, Forcing Delays

The animals are a protected species in the Netherlands.

Two badger cubs in the Szeged Game Park in Szeged, Hungary, April 12, 2006.
Two badger cubs in the Szeged Game Park in Szeged, Hungary, April 12, 2006.
Gyoergy Nemeth, File/MTI via AP, File

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Badgers burrowing under rail tracks have halted trains in the northern and southern Netherlands, forcing lengthy cancellations on at least two lines.

All trains were halted Tuesday afternoon on a busy line between the southern cities of Den Bosch and Boxtel after the animals dug into a dike carrying rails. The national railway company said the line would be out of service for at least a week.

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.

Earlier this month, badgers also burrowed under tracks near the northern village of Molkwerum in Friesland province, knocking a line out of service until next month while workers seek permission to shift the animals.

Badgers are protected animals in the Netherlands, so rail operators have to get permission to move them or disturb their habitat before repairs can begin.

John Voppen, CEO of ProRail, the company that maintains Dutch railroads, appealed for a speeding up of the procedures.

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

ProRail says that badgers like digging into the steep sides of earthen dikes that carry many Dutch train tracks. That can cause the tracks to subside, endangering trains.

"Living together with badgers can be a real puzzle," the company said on its website.

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