Accidents in the Railways

The damages to reindeer and other animals in the railway could be prohibited almost completely if there were fences by the railways and appropriate bridges and tunnels.

There are altogether around 500 kilometres of railway in 13 different reindeer herding cooperatives (municipality): Halla (Suomussalmi), Hirvasniemi and Pyhä-Kallio (Kemijärvi), Isosydänmaa (Simo), Kolari (Kolari), Lohijärvi (Ylitornio), Oijärvi (Kuivaniemi), Orajärvi (Pello), Salla (Salla) sekä Narkaus, Palojärvi, Poikajärvi and Vanttaus (Rovaniemi).

In the future the effects of railway will reach those reindeer herding cooperatives where a railway will be build or renewed due to f.e. mining. These potential new railways are located to the areas of the biggest reindeer herding cooperatives. Hence the damages to reindeer could grow significantly.  Also, the planned Arctic Sea routes are partially located to the Sámi areas.

Reindeer killed by train in Finland 2000-2020

Reindeer move quite long ways whilst pasturing and searching food. They will stay longer in an area, where there is a good reserve of food. The situation can change for example due to weather conditions. Then reindeer will start to move to another areas and they can cross railways or walk by them. In the summer time, reindeer are prone to go to the railway area as it is often open and windy, and there are no blood sucking insects. There can be several reindeer walking near or on the railway at the same time. The railway embankment is often very steep so it is difficult for reindeer to get down from it quickly.

In the 2000s, trains have killed annually around 200 – 410 reindeer. It varies due to the weather and pasture conditions. When an accident happens, the valuers go and evaluate the damages to reindeer. They will also collect the carcasses from the railway. VR-Yhtymä Oy is responsible for compensating the reindeer killed in the railway. The values used are defined by the Motor Insurers Centre.