What happens when a train hits animals?

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thenorthern

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I was reading the Road Traffic Act. 1988 today and of course it requires drivers to report it to the police when they hit a dog but there is no legal requirement to stop or report it when they hit a cat much to the annoyance of some people.


I was wondering however what the rules are for trains hitting animals and if Network Rail or British Transport Police are required to report to the animals owner that a train has it their animal. Also are animals owners legally responsible if their animals damages a train?
 
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Geezertronic

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Apart from any damage caused to the train vehicle, I guess there may not be much left to identify the type of animal hit let alone the owners identity unless it is blatantly obvious that the animal in question escaped from a local field for example
 

TheEdge

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Swans, large animals (cows, horses etc) and groups (3+ IIRC) of smaller things (sheep etc) should be reported to the signaller. While there is nothing official many drivers will also report hitting dogs and other pets due to the obvious risk of owners wandering onto the track to look for or retrieve pets.
 

Carntyne

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Dogs are normally collected/cleared away quickly when you report them to control, for the reasons TheEdge mentioned above.
 

londiscape

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I was reading the Road Traffic Act. 1988 today and of course it requires drivers to report it to the police when they hit a dog but there is no legal requirement to stop or report it when they hit a cat much to the annoyance of some people.


I was wondering however what the rules are for trains hitting animals and if Network Rail or British Transport Police are required to report to the animals owner that a train has it their animal. Also are animals owners legally responsible if their animals damages a train?

IANAL - don't take this as authoritative:

AFAIK dogs can in theory "trespass" according to the Animals Act and his owner could be liable if he causes damage to third party property (eg a train). A cat is not covered by the Animals Act so I don't think cat owners could be held responsible to any degree.

However, a cat is considered "goods", so reporting to the owner (if the same can be identified) if a train has hit and killed or injured a cat might be a good idea, even if the owner would not have any legal remedy for said death or injury, as the hitting of the same would not normally be either dishonest or negligent.
 

thenorthern

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With cats they are feral creatures who will go anywhere and its very hard for their owners to stop them going on rail tracks.

Dog on the other hand are not feral creatures and 9/10 times I have heard about dogs going onto the rail tracks its because their owners haven't been in proper control of them.
 

47271

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It's very common for Highland Main Line trains to hit deer or, worse still, enormous stags. This generally brings the service to a halt for checks to brake pipes etc. On two occasions I've been on a 170 when they've had to clear a coach because, although the train is safe, power's been knocked out by the collision.
 

Railops

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It's very common for Highland Main Line trains to hit deer or, worse still, enormous stags. This generally brings the service to a halt for checks to brake pipes etc. On two occasions I've been on a 170 when they've had to clear a coach because, although the train is safe, power's been knocked out by the collision.

I was in a train a few years ago that hit a deer near Pitlochry, we were bussed to Inverness as the train had a smashed windscreen.
Then an hour later the coach hit another deer so it wasn't a good day for animals.
 

Deepgreen

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There was a dead badger on the track by South Croydon station for at least three months about two years ago. I don't know if it was hit or electrocuted (the latter I suspect, as it was unmarked).
 

tsr

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It's very common for Highland Main Line trains to hit deer or, worse still, enormous stags. This generally brings the service to a halt for checks to brake pipes etc. On two occasions I've been on a 170 when they've had to clear a coach because, although the train is safe, power's been knocked out by the collision.

I've known 171s to come to a stand and be stranded for many hours (5+ in one or two cases) due to a loss of air caused by deer damaging the front of the train, mainly in the Hever Junction area where they regularly cross the railway. Unfortunately some of the equipment on those units is found in particularly daft places, so even a badly-positioned sheep or dog might be able to do significant damage. Luckily electrical power is less of a problem because those ones can cross-feed between coaches.

There was a dead badger on the track by South Croydon station for at least three months about two years ago. I don't know if it was hit or electrocuted (the latter I suspect, as it was unmarked).

I do find, for some reason, that badgers seem to be some of the animals most likely to be electrocuted. I've seen quite a few. Even ubiquitous urban foxes seem to come second.
 
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thenorthern

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Does Harvey's Law where its mandatory for road workers to scan for microchips on dead dogs apply to trains?
 

Saint66

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One of the episodes of that BBC documentary from a few years ago (2014?) showed a NR employee going onto the track to pick up a dog that had been struck by a train, with him talking about how it's done to stop owners venturing into tracks (I think?).
 

LexyBoy

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One of the episodes of that BBC documentary from a few years ago (2014?) showed a NR employee going onto the track to pick up a dog that had been struck by a train, with him talking about how it's done to stop owners venturing into tracks (I think?).

It was on "The Railway" covering FGW. Maybe it's my memory playing tricks but didn't he return it to the owners as well?
 

neonison

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I recall a loco-hauled train running into a flock of sheep that had strayed onto the ECML at Bradbury Carr, north of Darlington. Spent a while at that station hosing down the front of the Peak before continuing.
 

gage75

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It was on "The Railway" covering FGW. Maybe it's my memory playing tricks but didn't he return it to the owners as well?

I believe that you are correct, IIRC they had a chest freezer for storage of said items until returned or disposal
 

Spartacus

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Deer are hazard almost anywhere now with populations increasing nationally.

Virtually all pets will be removed, and often (presumably if they're in a reasonable condition) they'll be scanned for microchips to identify the owner.

I can't remember the number but there has to be a certain number of sheep for a caution to be put in place. Similarly cautions aren't meant to be put in place for a dog, though if someone reports what may be the owner nearby a caution will be put in place.

Horses, cattle, deer and similar sized animals will get a caution, there being quite a high chance of doing damage to a train if hit at speed, often it's the pipes that get damaged.

Badgers, unlike most foxes and cats, seem to have no sense of electicity flowing through a 3rd rail and are frequently killed by it. A report of 'smoking badger' in control logs is far from uncommon!

Then there's birds. Swans get a caution, partially because of size, they 'belong' to the Queen, and they're easy to identify. Others don't get a caution, but size (or rather weight) plays it's part when it comes to who pays for any delay. Anything heavier than a pheasant Network Rail pays for, anything the same size (I think) or smaller is the TOC's responsibility, presumably because the train should in theory be able to survive the impact without being damaged. You don't half sound daft asking what type of bird it was before you attribute the delay, then the number of times I've then had to consult the RSPB website to check bird sizes......!
 

thenorthern

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I think with birds there is a liability rule for delays in that if a train hits a blackbird its the responsibility of the train operating company as they didn't stop (I know its almost impossible to though). With big birds such as ostriches however its Network Rail's responsibility as they haven't got good enough fences to stop the ostrich from coming onto the track.
 

Sacro

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I think with birds there is a liability rule for delays in that if a train hits a blackbird its the responsibility of the train operating company as they didn't stop (I know its almost impossible to though). With big birds such as ostriches however its Network Rail's responsibility as they haven't got good enough fences to stop the ostrich from coming onto the track.

This causes issues when a train hits a peacock :lol:
 

krus_aragon

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You don't half sound daft asking what type of bird it was before you attribute the delay, then the number of times I've then had to consult the RSPB website to check bird sizes......!

Sounds like an opportunity for a birdwatching/trainspotting crossover...
 

thenorthern

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In India I think there there is an issue with trains hitting Cows as they are scared in India and there was a serious accident in 1981 when a driver braked suddenly to avoid a cow which caused 600 people to die.

In this country though the majority of train strikes involving dogs are caused by dog owners not realising that their dogs are well dogs. Its common sense that when crossing tracks with a dog or waiting at a level crossing with a dog its probably a good idea to have it on a lead.
 

theageofthetra

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In my experience Network Rail will tend to move a dead or seriously injured animal pretty quickly if its in view of a station. Had ones recently involving foxes getting fried overnight on 3rd rail at London Bridge & Charing Cross. I would inagine the risk of a fire would make it more urgent.
 

Deepgreen

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In India I think there there is an issue with trains hitting Cows as they are scared in India and there was a serious accident in 1981 when a driver braked suddenly to avoid a cow which caused 600 people to die.

In this country though the majority of train strikes involving dogs are caused by dog owners not realising that their dogs are well dogs. Its common sense that when crossing tracks with a dog or waiting at a level crossing with a dog its probably a good idea to have it on a lead.

How on earth does braking cause such carnage?!
 

asharpe

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How on earth does braking cause such carnage?!

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/train-avoids-cow-but-kills-600

More than 500 passengers are killed when their train plunges into the Baghmati River in India on this day in 1981. The rail accident—the worst in India to that date—was caused by an engineer who was reverential of cows.

The nine-car train, filled with approximately 1,000 passengers, was traveling through the northeastern state of Bihar about 250 miles from Calcutta. Outside, monsoon-like conditions were battering the region. Extremely hard rains were swelling the rivers and making the tracks slick. When a cow and a Hindu engineer—who believed that cows are sacred animals—entered the picture, the combination led to tragedy.

As the train approached the bridge over the Baghmati River, a cow crossed the tracks. Seeking to avoid harming the cow at all costs, the engineer braked too hard. The cars slid on the wet rails and the last seven cars derailed straight into the river. With the river far above normal levels, the cars sank quickly in the murky waters.

Rescue help was hours away and, by the time it arrived, nearly 600 people had lost their lives. After a multi-day search, 286 bodies were recovered but more than 300 missing people were never found. The best estimate is that close to 600 passengers were killed by the engineer’s decision.
 

Deepgreen

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Thanks for that. Bearing in mind that this is a non-railway/non-technical article, there must have been more to it, as merely sliding along wet rails does not cause derailment in itself. Possibly the rain had deformed the track/permanent way? Even in less well-maintained systems (such as, for example, Indian), emergency braking does not cause derailments. Also, very heavy rain does not make rails 'slick' as the item claims - it tends to wash the rail head, whereas light rain/drizzle is the tricky stuff for adhesion.

Anyway, I mustn't drag this off-topic. This item is about what happens when trains don't hit animals, the opposite to the thread!
 
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thenorthern

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As its illegal to own a badger (dead or alive) it must be a nightmare for Network Rail to dispose of them when they are hit by trains.
 
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