The Network Rail engineers have built a tunnel believed to be Scotland's first-ever 'beaver pass'. The tunnel allows the animals to go under the Highland mainline. The beavers near Gleneagles can now safely pass on the other side of the railway.
The tunnel will also help prevent flooding issues caused by beavers building dams in the line's drainage ditches. To instal a special pipe through an existing culvert , the workers had to pump out the water from the culvert and remove a 5-metre long dam previously built by the animals. The existing beaver lodge led to flooding from time to time. The inserted pipe had the wild mesh fitted on either side to protect the railway while still allowing the movement of wildlife.
The population of beavers has been growing in Scotland. This means they could cause felling trees onto the railway or dig into railway embankments.
The area around Perth has a fast growing population of beavers. To provide the best solution for protected animals the railway engineers worked with beaver experts at NatureScot.
James Morrison, ecologist, with Network Rail Scotland: "To a beaver, a culvert probably looks like a hole in a dam – the barriers they build to restrict the flow of water – so they are very popular damming spots.
"The action we took near Gleneagles is the first beaver pass installed in the country that we are aware of. It is a repeatable solution which works to protect Scotland’s Railway as well as safeguarding the beaver populations and other wildlife.
"The beavers will naturally expand across Scotland and as they do it is possible they could occasionally impact Network Rail's infrastructure through felling trees on to the line, flooding caused by their dams or burrowing into railway embankments. However, they are an important keystone species and we need a proactive approach and sensitive solutions that allow us to co-exist."