TSU--Ropes didn’t work. Flashing red lights failed. And even lion feces could not prevent deer from roaming on railroad tracks in the way of oncoming trains.

Yuji Hikita, 48, an employee of an electricity division at Kintetsu Railway Co., was at his wit’s end on coming up with a solution to the constant train delays and loss of wild animal life.

After watching another tragic scene of carnage, he came up with an idea.

“Despite of all our efforts to shut out deer, they still enter the tracks,” he thought at the time. “Why don’t we have crossings for deer?”

The results of his thinking can now be seen along Kintetsu Railway’s Osaka Line.

Gaps from 20 to 50 meters wide appear in the walls of netting around 2 meters tall surrounding the tracks.

Ultrasonic waves are emitted within the gaps to repel the deer during particularly hazardous times: early morning or at night.

From the last train of the day to the first train in the morning, the system is turned off to let the deer enter and cross the tracks.

Allowing the animals to venture on the tracks when train operations are shut down also fits in with the nocturnal nature of Japanese deer.

Three deer crossings have been set up within a 1-kilometer section near Higashi-Aoyama Station on the Osaka Line within a mountainous area of Tsu, the capital of Mie Prefecture.

In that section, 17 deer-train collisions were reported in fiscal 2015. The number plunged to one in the year and a half since the deer crossings were established.

Deer crossings were also installed in a section between Haibara Station and Muroguchi-Ono Station on the Osaka Line, both in Uda, Nara Prefecture.

Train accidents caused by deer fell from 13 in 2016 to two in the eight months since the crossings opened.

Deer collisions have long been a problem for Kintetsu Railway, which has many lines running in mountainous areas.

But accidents involving deer have also caused headaches across Japan.

Various railway companies have taken such measures as setting up barriers or trying to scare away the deer with flashing lights, noises or the feces of predators.

However, the problem has continued to climb.

Across Japan, the number of train services that were either suspended or delayed by more than 30 minutes due to collisions with wild animals, such as deer, reached a record high 613 last fiscal year, up 185 from the previous year, according to the transport ministry.

Deer-train collisions on Kintetsu lines spiked to 288 in 2015 from 57 in 2004. The 2015 figure represents a fivefold increase over the 11 years.

One such accident was captured by a surveillance camera installed along the tracks of the Osaka Line.

A deer family crossed the tracks at night, and one of three fawns bringing up the rear was struck and killed by a train.

A parent deer stared at the collapsed fawn for about 40 minutes.

Hikita watched the footage in sadness. It was then that he came up with the idea for deer crossings.

In autumn 2015, he started a survey on deer. He found their hoof prints and feces along both sides of the tracks. He also confirmed the deer’s habit of licking the rails for an intake of iron.

His deer crossings won Japan’s Good Design Award this fiscal year.

“Deer crossings have been proposed (by Kintetsu Railway) with a deer-friendly idea stemming from the kindness of its railway staff,” a judge said. “This is an excellent example of how railway companies can tackle the deer-train collision problem from the deer’s perspective, and it owes to the countless number sacrificed in the accidents.”

Kintetsu Railway intends to install deer crossings at additional sections on its lines while planning ways to guide deer to safety.

Officials from other railway companies have taken a look at the Kintetsu Railway’s deer crossings.

West Japan Railway Co. (JR West) in March started tests on deer crossings at a section between Kamigori Station in Hyogo Prefecture and Mitsuishi Station in Okayama Prefecture on the Sanyo Line, according to the company.

“Railway companies have common source of trouble,” Hikita said. “It’s a great honor for me if the deer crossing system spreads throughout the country.”