Talk Video analysis of animal-train encounters in Sweden

Ungulate-train collisions (UTC) are of increasing concern to railway traffic in Sweden. Train drivers report thousands of incidents per year and the actual number is probably substantially larger as not all collisions are detected or reported. High corporative expenses for train repairs and the socio-economic costs of train delays suggest that the problem has previously been grossly underestimated. Thus, the Swedish Transport Administration (STA) in cooperation with Swedish Railway Company (SJ), the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) and Enviroplanning AB initiated a project to develop new and adapted measures to prevent UTC. As one of the first steps in this endeavor, we studied the behavior of animals towards approaching trains. This is done by means of video recordings made by 20 train drivers since April 2015. Train drivers are equipped with so called dash cams that continuously record driving situations but save only those sequences where drivers had detected wildlife near or on the railway tracks. All saved video recordings are processed for further analysis of the animal’ responses to trains and warning signals produced by the train drivers.

At present, 122 recordings of ungulate-train interactions have been saved, including 5 collisions. Preliminary analysis indicates that many animals recognize approaching trains too late and/or try to avoid colliding by running away in front of the train. This maladapted behavior is also known to occur on roads. As the monitoring continues, more observations will be made, especially during the current winter season. We will present analyses of the animals’ behavior (flight, freeze, ignorance, pause) and discuss what implications these behaviors may have for mitigation.


As this study is still on-going, we intend to update this abstract during spring with more empirical data.


ungulate-train collisions, animal behaviour, video recording, monitoring