Good for the humans, and good for the turtles, too!

Japanese public transportation, as you know, is timed to perfection–so when there are delays, it can be a significant inconvenience for many. For trains, in particular, there are many potential causes for delays, and in rural areas sometimes it’s wild animals who are the culprit, and in the case of trains running through the countryside of Okayama prefecture in western Japan, the main perpetrators are turtles.

You see, turtles sometimes try to cross over the tracks at railroad crossings, where the rails are flush with the paved street. Occasionally, though, they’ll get diverted towards the tracks and fall in between the rails, and because they aren’t big enough or strong enough to pull themselves over them, they have no choice but to follow along the train tracks until they can find another way out.

But as they’re ambling along the tracks, some turtles end up getting stuck in the section of the railroad where the tracks switch. Because that’s a spot where rails meet, the path becomes very narrow, and the turtles find themselves wedged in and can’t back out. This causes the switch to get stuck–and to crush the poor turtle when activated–which means the track can’t switch. Trains can’t pass along a track that hasn’t been fully switched over, so the end up getting delayed.

On the JR Hakubi Line near Nunohara Station in Okayama, many turtles are prone to get stuck this way, so JR West decided to install a u-shaped gutter under the tracks, right before the switch. That way, the turtles can fall in to the gutter before getting stuck in the switch–and can walk right out one side or the other to safety!

This u-shaped pipe has already been installed near Goido Station on the JR Wakayama Line, which is an area that sees heavy turtle traffic. According to officials, simply installing this pipe has saved at least 10 turtles in that area between April and August, which is the period that the turtles are most active. And by saving 10 turtles from being crushed in the railroad switch, JR West also prevented 10 train delays, thereby making Japan’s rail system even more efficient.

The turtles are safe, and the trains are on time, so everyone is happy! But what touched Japanese netizens was not the timeliness of the trains but JR West’s consideration for the turtles:

“Even though it was made to help humans, it’s also kind to the turtles!”
“Good for the customers and good for the turtles!!”
“Thank you (turtle emoji)”
“What a perfect solution.”
“I support this. I learned a life lesson!”

This reminds us of the time a Japanese electric company completely rerouted electricity to protect a crane’s nest. Sometimes corporations aren’t all about profits, and that’s the kind of thing we like to hear!

Source: Twitter/@Okayama_JR via Netlab
Featured image: Twitter/@Okayama_JR
Insert images: JR West

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