Our new awareness campaign educates drivers on using automatic half-barrier level crossings safely

Automatic half-barrier crossings (AHBs) are one of the riskiest type of level crossing on the network – so it is important that drivers pay attention.

What are they?

Automatic Half Barrier (AHB) crossings are a type of level crossing found on Britain’s rail and road network. They feature barriers that descend across just half of the road – the other half remains open, allowing vehicles and pedestrians to move off the crossing and out of harm’s way. As with other types of public highway level crossing, AHBs also feature road traffic lights and audible alarms.

Why are they a risk?

AHBs are operated automatically – they are not manned. Their design allows us to balance safety with convenience for pedestrians and road users alike; the barriers can be down for the shortest possible period of time. However, if you weave around the barriers, or are positioned on the crossing when a train is approaching, you are on dangerous ground.

A collision between a train and a road vehicle rarely ends well. It puts the vehicle occupants’ lives in danger. It risks derailing the train. It puts the lives of the train driver and their passengers in danger. Even if a collision is avoided, near-miss events can cause significant delays to train services and to level crossing users.

Where are they situated?

There are over 400 AHB level crossings in Britain. They are situated across the transport network in a range of different environments, most commonly in quiet rural locations but occasionally in busier settings too.

How should I use an AHB crossing?

If you come across a level crossing, pay attention – look out for warning signs and traffic lights. 

Most road level crossings feature amber and red lights that flash when a train is approaching. If the lights are illuminated, stop!

Do not attempt to weave around the barriers to get to the far side. The barriers are there for a reason: to keep you safe from trains. Continue to wait until the barriers have fully raised and the lights have stopped flashing.  Remember, there could be more than one train approaching the crossing.

Level crossing safety guidance for drivers

Did you know?

In the past two years there have been 116 near misses and two accidental fatalities involving vehicles at our level crossings.