Off The Rails
Did you hear the one about the train that barks like a dog and snorts like a deer? No this is not the opening line of a joke, but a key part of a strategy to reduce the number of deer that congregate near Japan’s railway tracks and, so the theory goes, prevent collisions on the line. And it works. Only 7.5 sightings of deer per 100km were recorded on trains that barked and snorted during a trial that took place between early evening and late at night, a period when deer are most frequently spotted near the tracks. That is a whopping 45% lower than the number of sightings by trains which did not impersonate dogs and deer. The secret behind the barking and snorting trains lies with a device that has been developed by the Tokyo-based Railway Technical Research Institute (RTRI). According to the boffins at the Institute, deer typically make a short shrill sound when they sense danger. By combining this sound with a 20 second burst of a dog yapping, and hey presto the deer get spooked and run away from the danger. If the system gets the green light to be rolled out across the country’s railway network, the device will not only be fitted onto trains but also onto static objects located at sections of the railways that are regularly frequented by deer. As well as saving countless numbers of animals from a grizzly end, it is hoped the device will significantly bring down the number of trains that are either cancelled or delayed due to collisions on the line from the 613 instances that were recorded in 2016/17. Maybe it is not such a ‘barking ideer’ after all.