Railroad workers in the coastal city of Kobe in central Japan have built safe passages for turtles that wander onto railway tracks.
The safety channels, developed by West Japan Railway Co. (JR West) and Suma Aqualife Park, consist of U-shaped concrete ditches strategically placed under tracks close to junctions, according to Kyodo News.
Previous experiments showed that turtles crossing the tracks fall into the spaces between them. They then get stuck at the switch points and are squashed as trains approach.
The incidents lead not only to turtle deaths, but also to disruptions in train operations. Between 2002 and 2014, 13 cases caused such disruptions in Kyoto and Nara.
To address the issue, JR West and Suma Aqualife Park collaborated to install the ditches in 2015. They were set at two stations in Nara Prefecture in April and November of that year and helped save at least 10 turtles.
JR West staff reportedly check the ditches every month. Turtles that have fallen into them are then sent to Suma Aqualife Park.
“The system prevents turtles from getting into accidents and avoids causing trouble for our passengers. We hope to continue using it,” a JR West official said at the time.
The ditches appear to have served their purpose throughout the years. In 2020, another railway official shared how the safe passages continue to save turtles at the Nunohara Station on the Habi Line.
“We installed it so that turtles can escape from the tracks and reduce the occurrence of delays,” the official tweeted. “We will continue to work on safety and comfort.”