There are around 6,000 level crossings across our rail network which we look after through a programme of inspection, maintenance, renewal, and upgrades.
Level crossings range from rural footpath crossings where the responsibility is on the user to stop, look and listen for approaching trains, to high-tech public road crossings with obstacle detection systems and automatic lights and barriers. It is our intention that level crossings are designed, operated, and maintained in a collaborative way that improves safety for everyone, and reduces the risk that level crossings present.
Inspection and maintenance
Level crossings are inspected by a highly skilled team of Level Crossing Managers at a frequency that is based on the level of risk a crossing poses. The inspection frequency ranges from every 7 weeks to every 12 months.
During these inspections Level Crossing Managers will check for any defects in the crossing that may pose a risk to users, trains or vehicles passing over the crossing. Where faults or defects are discovered, the Level Crossing Manager will raise these for repair by our maintenance teams.
In addition, our maintenance teams undertake a programme of planned maintenance activities on our level crossing assets to keep them in good working order. We also use remote monitoring systems at many of our level crossings to monitor asset health and performance, this enables us to make timely interventions to repair emerging defects.
Level crossings, like all railway assets have a life cycle. When the level crossing equipment has reached the end of its life cycle, we will renew the asset. Given the high cost of installing a level crossing and their long service life, we will always strive to select the safest crossing equipment most suitable for the site-specific risks when renewing a crossing.
We believe the most effective way of reducing level crossing risk is to completely eliminate risk and close the crossing. Where closure is not possible, we look to reduce risk through use of innovative technology to upgrade the crossing and reduce the risks it presents.
As level crossings provide an intersection where the railway and the public interact, they involve a wide range of users and different parties who each have an impact on safety. When assessing the suitability of a level crossing upgrade we will consider the ‘whole-system’ in which a level crossing operates, by understanding how the people, processes and technology will work together to deliver a safe level crossing.
In partnership with our suppliers, we develop new technology solutions and incorporate them into our level crossing systems to improve safety and accelerate the pace at which we can upgrade level crossings.