The Barking Trains Of Japan

Grace Higgins | October 1st, 2019

Some of you may be wondering where is the famous Choo Choo sound when traveling via train around the countryside of Japan. And it is indeed true, Japanese trains in certain regions make entirely different noises: they bark like a dog but they do not bite.

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In a forward-thinking and conservationist stance, trains in Japan are being fitted with speakers that scream out the massive sounds of dog barks. They also emit loud deer snorts and other predator wildlife noises. The goal? Well to keep wild animals away from the tracks of course!

These animal sound imitations are proving to be very successful, with the Tokyo newspaper The Asahi Shimbun reporting that deer sightings from trains are down by over 40% since the Railway Technical Research Institution started to use the dog barking devices on their trains. You see the main problem for train drivers was that deer with congregating around the train tracks at night and almost not visible in some cases, which caused brutal collisions with deer packs.

Luckily researchers developed a device that uses deer snorts, three shrill and short blasts. This is taken from the deer’s behavior of producing short and shrill sounds to warn other deer of danger being closeby. And then the dog barks and yaps come in for a long 20 seconds to scare the deer away. This is because in most cases, wild animals are indeed afraid of dogs.

The reason that this research had to be done and a solution needed to be found, is because deer are actually attracted to licking train tracks. They lick the tracks for nutritional value: iron. Japan has also taken other measures such as providing iron licking rocks in the forests as a safe alternative. So far, the dog barking trains are proving to provide the best results.

Nobody wants to kill a deer, and the country’s transport ministry is taking the correct steps in ensuring the deer population of Japan is kept safe. And of course, the last reason is that collisions cause massive delays in 2016 there were over 613 cases of wild animal collisions.

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