Modify vegetation along railways to reduce collisions by reducing attractiveness to mammals
Overall effectiveness category Likely to be beneficial
Number of studies: 2
Background information and definitions
Wild mammals may be at increased risk of collisions with trains if they spend time on or close to the railway. Vegetation alongside railways may provide a feeding resource that attracts animals while, at the same time, obscuring views of oncoming trains. Removing vegetation in areas with high recorded collision rates may reduce attractiveness of such areas to mammals and, thus, reduce the risk of collision with trains.
Supporting evidence from individual studies
A before-and-after study, site comparison study in 1980–1988 along a railway through boreal forest in Nord-Trøndelag County, Norway (Jaren et al. 1991) found that vegetation removal alongside the railway reduced moose Alces alces deaths. Fewer moose were killed by trains after vegetation clearance (22 moose) than before (87 moose). Numbers also fell along uncleared sections but to a lesser extent with 27 killed after vegetation was cleared in experimental sections compared to 47 before. Vegetation clearance was estimated to be cost effective if more than 0.28 moose/km/year were expected to be killed in absence of clearance. Moose deaths were recorded along a 61-km section of railway in April–November of 1980–1988. In 1984, two sections with the highest casualties (totalling 22 km), had all bushes and trees removed from 20 m either side of the railway and all those <4 m high removed from a further 10 m width. Additional vegetation was removed at bends and on areas of browse attractive to moose. In 1986, cleared areas were sprayed with herbicide (Roundup) to reduce vegetation re-growth.Study and other actions tested
A site comparison study in 1985–2003 along a railway through forest in Hedmark County, Norway (Andreassen et al. 2005) found that vegetation clearance alongside the railway reduced moose Alces alces collisions with trains. Fewer moose were killed after clearance (1.3/km/year) than before (2.6/km/year). Providing feeding stations away from the railway during winter in addition to clearing vegetation alongside the railway did not significantly further reduce collisions (5% reduction) compared to clearing vegetation alone. Before clearance, there were 2.5 times more moose killed/km/year within treatment sections compared to comparison sections. Numbers killed/km in treatment sections were fairly constant but casualties tended to increase in comparison sections over the study period (see paper for details). Eight forest clearings (1–14 km long) were established from 1990 to 2002 along a 100-km-long railway section. Vegetation >30 cm high was cut each year from alongside the railway. Sections without treatments were monitored as comparison sites (49 km). Moose-train collisions were recorded from July 1985–April 2003.Study and other actions tested