Level crossing safety

With five accidental fatalities in 2022/23 we must never forget how dangerous level crossings can be.

Level crossings in Britain

A level crossing is a point where the railway meets a road or footpath at the same level. There are nearly 6,000 level crossings on the rail network across England, Wales and Scotland.

There are two broad groups of crossings:

  • Passive crossings – there is no warning of a train’s approach other than by the train driver who may use the train horn. It is the users responsibility to stop, look and listen to check whether it is safe to cross.
  • Active crossings – the user is warned of a train’s approach through closure of gates, barriers, warning lights and/or alarms. The operation of an active crossing can either be automatic or manual (by a rail operator).

Reducing risk at level crossings

Closing level crossings is the only way to fully eradicate the risk, in fact we’ve closed over 1,300 crossings since 2009. However, we know that closing our level crossings isn’t always a realistic option for the communities they serve.

That’s why since 2009, we have invested over £200million in improving safety at thousands of crossings, which includes closures, building bridges, identifying safer rights of way, installing new barriers and warning systems, new signage and educating the people that use them how to be safe around them.

Download our level crossing strategy

Using level crossings safely

Things can go wrong at level crossings, including user mistakes or errors, deliberate misuse, asset failures and defects, and operator errors. Unfortunately, there are countless near-misses and fatalities every single year between trains and level crossing users. That’s why we want to make sure all level crossing users know how to use level crossings safely.

Our level crossing safety campaigns and educational resources are also a key part of our work to improve user safety at level crossings. Take a look at our level crossing safety information and visit our education website Switched On.

Contact us

Contact us if you have any queries or concerns relating to a level crossing. Please state the name of the level crossing in any communication.

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