Japan Railways to Make Train Tracks Safer… For Turtles?

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Japan is already one of the safest countries in the world for humans

The West Japan Railway Company and Suma Aqualife Park in Kobe have teamed up to make trains a whole lot safer for the slower, smaller, more-reptilian local population: the turtles.

The Suma Aqualife Park is a giant aquarium/beach in Kobe that attracts plenty of tourists and families, most of whom get there by train. However, due to the park’s proximity to the ocean, every year several turtles get stuck in the train tracks and cause delays, malfunctions, or even damage to the trains themselves.

The most common way for the turtles to get stuck is when they try crawling over the railroad tracks and become trapped between the two high metallic rails. Since they can’t climb out, they’re forced to follow along the track, until eventually they either get run over by a train or get stuck in a part of the rail-switching mechanism.

Left: What used to happen with turtles getting stuck in the rail switch.
Right: Now with the turtles have a nice, easy escape route under the track.

The switch would crush the turtle at some point, typically getting damaged in the process and forcing trains to stop until it was fixed.

So in order to keep both train-riding humans and rail-stuck turtles happy, Japan Railways has implemented this solution: creating escape ditches for the turtles along the railroad.