Why accidents between trains and wild boars are increasing in Brittany – Wild boars are multiplying in Brittany

This is a real headache for SNCF. In recent months, accidents involving trains hitting animals have increased in Brittany, significantly affecting rail traffic in the east of the region. The Rennes – Saint-Malo and Rennes – Châteaubriant axes are most affected. “In less than two months, we have recorded more than 50 big game accidents that have seriously damaged our trains,” SNCF’s Breton division said, mostly involving wild boars and deer.

Each time such an incident leads to a complete shutdown of the train to check that no part is damaged. In this case, the damaged train is sent to a maintenance technician until it can be repaired, which can sometimes take a long time.

Several trains are under repair

“In the international context of supply tensions, we are experiencing delays in our delivery times for certain spare parts, which lead us to decommission certain trains,” explains SCNF, noting that these operations are expensive. The average cost to repair a train damaged by a game collision is around €6,200.

A train being repaired after a collision with a wild boar at Technicentre Maintenance Bretagne. You can see the damage under the body. (SNCF Brittany)

Faced with this shortage of carriages, the TER BreizhGo teams are forced to adapt their transport plans. On the Rennes – Saint-Malo axis, several services were rescheduled for most of January and some trains even had to be cancelled. As for the Rennes – Chateaubriant axis connecting Loire Atlantique, this is the number of reduced trains until January 27 and therefore the number of seats available on each train.

How can we explain the increase in these types of events?

In addition to the already established increase in wild boar or deer populations in the region, there is also a behavioral change among the latter. André Douard, president of the Federation of Hunters of Ille-et-Vilaine, says: “I have noticed that there are more animals moving in and out of forests than ever.” “If they leave their natural habitat, it could be to get away from a lot of pedestrians or cyclists.” Thomas Le Campion of the Breton Mammalogical Group adds: “They look for places that are protected from any human presence, and that can be near certain sections of railway tracks.”

“Sometimes it’s the search for food that makes them go to the meadows,” continues André Douard. “They need protein because they have moisture. So they look for earthworms, and they can’t find them in the forest. Rather, they go to the meadows and sometimes have to cross the railway line.

André Douard, President of the Federation of Hunters of Ille-et-Vilaine and Brittany.
André Douard, President of the Federation of Hunters of Ille-et-Vilaine and Brittany. (The Telegram/Suzanne Bruneau)

“Limit Overcrowding”

The Rennes-Saint-Malo axis, which passes through a certain number of bocage communes and is close to forested areas, is particularly exposed to this type of incidents, the president emphasizes. “However, to fully understand this phenomenon, it is necessary to analyze more precisely the zones of impact points of these last weeks.”

In recent years, the national hunters’ federation has already worked with SNCF on these issues. “They can tell us which areas are most affected and we try to move on the ground by hunting more in the relevant sectors to limit the overpopulation,” confirms André Douard.

Why are accidents between trains and boars increasing in Brittany?

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