Build a Better Mouse Track: How Network Rail Keeps Wildlife Alive

There is a critically endangered dormouse species that could end up on the wrong side of the tracks if Network Rail does nothing to ensure its survival. That is why a unique solution has been found for a unique situation. Network Rail engineers devised a plan to build the very first mainline mouse that allowed their smaller neighbors to cross the tracks without being turned into mousepads.

The almost extinct Hazel Dormouse species gets its very first dedicated level crossing, in the heart of its last home territory. Engineers are building a small level crossing in an attempt to save the mice from extinction. The new ‘dormouse bridge’ will be the first of its kind on the railway when built next summer on the Furness Line in Lancashire.

The flying mouse man

The last two decades have seen the number of wild hazel dormice shrubs by half. This project aims to combat this decline by establishing new populations of dormice in northern Lancashire County. The only problem with the plan is that the chosen refuge is cut in half by the Furness Line, a local lifeline and freight artery for human inhabitants on the railroad tracks around Morecambe Bay.

A bridge not too far for Hazel Dormice (Network Rail)

Network Rail Mouseketeers builds a rodent-sized climbing frame on tracks to overcome this obstacle. This Flying Mouseman will connect populations, encouraging them to find food, seek a new mate or find better nesting sites in the Arnside and Silverdale area of ​​outstanding natural beauty. It’s the nutty dormouse, not the engineers at Network Rail.

Keep calm and hibernate

The People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) wildlife charity is Network Rail’s partner in this enterprise of fur-friendly mouse companions. The 80,000-pound (88,000 euros) conservation project is partly funded by Network Rail, with the rest of the money coming from donations to PTES. This purchases a 12-meter-long armored treetop structure to protect itself from predators – right next to an existing railway bridge. Network Rail teams are currently working with the specialist “dormouse bridge” manufacturer Animex on the best way to secure it. Yes, there is a company specializing in dormouse bridges.

Mouse hole in Cornwall. Good pub, but never knowingly needed a mouse bridge (Otto Domes – WikiCommons)

Environmentalists are also looking to improve the railroad backfill to encourage dormice to use the new bridge to move safely from side to side of the railroad tracks. It is also a good idea for humans. Network Rail is committed to improving biodiversity and protecting habitats for the future, ”said Rory Kingdon, Principal Sponsor of Network Rail. We were hoping Rory could be called “Gerry” or “Mickey”, but no luck.

Dream Job of the Year: Dormouse Training Officer

“This year dormice made a welcome return to Lancashire when we reintroduced 30 individuals to the Arnside and Silverdale Area of ​​Outstanding Natural Beauty,” said Ian White, dormouse and training manager at PTES (yes , even the PTES can only afford to have a part-time dormitory officer). “This new population has got off to an excellent start as we know that at least twelve litters have been born this year.” All dormice puppies and kittens may be eligible for youth cards.

Momentum. No mouse. Less likely to use a bridge, more likely to be knocked down. Perhaps even less common in Lancashire than Hazel Dormice (Cindy Brown – Pinterest)

“We hope this new bridge will allow two neighboring populations to create a local metapopulation in the area, which will really help bring this rare and beautiful species back from the brink,” said Officer Dormouse White. “The loss of quality woodland habitats is one of the main reasons for their decline, so it is hoped that this new bridge will ensure a prosperous future for dormice in Lancashire.

Danger! Mouse

Rodent strikes are not the main reason for operational problems on the UK grid. However, you better be careful. Freight will not be blocked as long as this inter-mouse modal bridge also holds.