Deer herd brings trains to a standstill for hours by Almere; Trains nearly collide in Heerlen
A herd of deer disrupted train traffic between the Almere Oostvaarders station and Lelystad Centrum for several hours on Saturday afternoon. The group of fifteen animals from the Oostvaardersplassen nature reserve broke through a fence and roamed onto the railroad track. Because it involved such a large group, Dutch national railway NS halted train traffic there. In a separate incident, two Arriva passenger trains nearly collided at the Heerlen train station in Limburg, coming to a halt just 20 meters apart from each other. In that incident, a train driver likely ran a red light.
At the incident near the Oostvaardersplassen, the deer themselves broke the fence. They likely did this by rubbing against it, said a spokesperson for nature reserve manager Staatsbosbeheer. It is also possible that an elk’s antlers became stuck in the fence, and it pulled the fence down trying to free itself.
The deer also returned to the Oostvaardersplassen on their own at specially designed points where elevations located on the outside of the fence can be used by animals to jump back into the nature reserve. Rangers saw seven deer jump across and believe the others followed suit. "We have followed the trail and they have not been seen again," said the spokesperson. "This is the first time I've experienced this," he said.
The incident is "very unique," said a spokesperson for the NS. "We often see animals walking on the track, but so many? That has never happened before." Train traffic resumed after about three hours, she said.
The railway company often has problems with the animal kingdom. In March, trains were prevented from running between Den Bosch and Boxtel for more than a week because badgers had burrowed out their own den in the railway embankment, which could cause it to cave in. In Friesland, train traffic between Workum and Stavoren has been at a standstill since March 13, also because of badgers. And in 2011, a stork near Zwartsluis caused a major power failure that also affected train traffic.
Near collision of two passenger trains in Heerlen ends well
Two Arriva passenger trains almost collided at the Heerlen station on Saturday. They came to a stop on the same track about 20 meters apart, said an Arriva spokesperson on Saturday evening. There were no injuries, she said. The story was first reported by De Limburger. Train traffic was shut down for several hours as a result.
The incident occurred around 10 a.m. when a train was just about to leave the station in Heerlen, while a train from Maastricht was approaching on the same track, said a spokesperson for railroad infrastructure firm ProRail. "Fortunately, the train from Maastricht was not moving fast," she said.
The driver of the train from Maastricht probably ran a red light, according to the Arriva spokesperson. The driver was then removed from the train in accordance with a valid protocol.
The passengers from both trains were evacuated and taken to the station building. Train traffic could not be resumed until 2:30 p.m., because Arriva and ProRail first wanted to determine exactly what had happened. No buses were used during the shut down. Travelers had to wait several hours for the next departing train.
ProRail will check a switch on the relevant track section during the overnight hours preceding Sunday morning’s normal schedule, according to the spokesperson.
It was nearly the second time this week that a collision involving a train occurred in the Netherlands. A few days ago, a passenger train from NS and a freight train from DB Cargo each collided with a crane near Voorschoten, killing the crane driver and injuring dozens of passengers.
Reporting by ANP