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Level crossing safety

Definition of a level crossing: Any crossing of a railway at grade, providing for both vehicular traffic and other road users including pedestrians.

There are more than 3800 level crossings in NSW. Of these more than 1400 level crossing are on public roads, with the remainder on private roads. Level crossing collisions between trains and vehicles are a major road safety risk.

Individual rail and road agencies are responsible for managing and funding level crossing safety on their rail networks.

Local government agencies are asked to contribute one-third of the cost for level crossing upgrades on local roads.

Regulatory oversight is provided by the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator (ONRSR), NSW Roads and Maritime Services and NSW Police. 

While infrastructure improvements will continue to reduce risk at level crossings, it is also important that drivers, riders and pedestrians take care and obey the road rules each time they encounter a level crossing.

Safety treatment options

There are a range of treatment options available to upgrade the safety protection at level crossings.

  • Advanced warning signs
  • Queuing treatment (cross hatching and signage)
  • Level crossing control and traffic signal interfacing
  • Road realignment
  • Upgrading of the level crossing controls i.e. installation of flashing lights and boom gates
  • High intensity lights (LEDs)
  • Train speed reduction
  • Rail realignment
  • Sighting distance improvements
  • Closure of the crossing (pdf 52KB)

Level Crossing Improvement Program

We allocate supplementary funding for level crossing upgrades and to support initiatives such as safety awareness and police enforcement campaigns through the Level Crossing Improvement Program (LCIP).

Upgrade locations funded by the LCIP are identified through a priority ranking approach using the Australian Level Crossing Assessment Model (ALCAM), a review of NSW safety incident data and consultation with relevant road managers and rail infrastructure managers.

An evaluation of the LCIP conducted in 2014-15 found that it delivers a positive economic benefit, and plays a substantial role in fulfilling the objectives and targets of the Level Crossing Strategy Council’s Strategic Plan for NSW Level Crossings 2010-20 (pdf 132KB).

Level Crossing Policy

To minimise risks to the public, TfNSW has developed two policy positions in relation to level crossings

Construction of New Level Crossings

Building new level crossings is to be avoided wherever possible and all other options including grade separation and use of existing level crossings should be explored before a new crossing is proposed.

Level Crossing Closures

Public and private level crossings should be closed wherever it is practical and cost effective to do so.  Access can often be managed by a grade separation or by redirecting traffic via an alternate route.

Research and innovation

The Australasian Centre for Rail Innovation (ACRI) undertakes targeted, applied research and strategic analysis to solve issues raised by rail industry participants or other entities in the broader transport sector. This is to support and ensure continued improvement in productivity and sustainability to underpin the competitive position of the Australasian rail industry.

ACRI’s innovation and research projects include a level crossing agreed work program, which can be obtained from the ACRI website.

State and national forums

Level crossing issues are addressed at state and national levels.

State: The Level Crossing Strategy Council meets every second month and is supported by an officer level working group.

National: Australian Level Crossing Assessment Model National Committee (National ALCAM Committee) meets every three months and has representation from the state jurisdiction, Northern Territory and New Zealand.

The National ALCAM Committee oversights the application and development of the ALCAM.

Australian Transport and Infrastructure Council (ATC)

The Transport and Infrastructure Council (the Council) brings together Commonwealth, State, Territory and New Zealand Ministers with responsibility for transport and infrastructure issues, as well as the Australian Local Government Association.

Transport and Infrastructure Senior Officials's Committee (TISOC)

The Council is advised and assisted by the Transport and Infrastructure Senior Officials' Committee (TISOC) on all non-infrastructure priorities, and the Infrastructure Working Group providing advice and guidance on the coordination of infrastructure planning and investment, across governments and the private sector.

Last updated: 8 December 2016