Level crossing safety

Reviewed

Project overview

Level crossing collisions between trains and vehicles are a major road safety risk.

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 2700 road level crossings on operational lines on the NSW rail network. This excludes any level crossings in private rail yards and on non-operational rail lines. 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, 52.33 KB)

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 Strategic Plan for NSW Level Crossings 2010-2020.

Level Crossing Strategy Council Strategic Plan 2021-2030

The Level Crossing Strategy Council Strategic Plan 2021-30 (PDF, 514.66 KB) was developed by the Level Crossing Strategy Council (LCSC) to guide their work from 2021 to 2030 to further improve the safety of level crossings. This Plan builds on the successes and momentum created by the previous Strategic Plan for NSW Level Crossings 2010-2020.

The objectives of this Strategic Plan are to eliminate collisions, reduce near misses and minimise the impact of any incidents that occur at level crossings. 

Aligned with the Safe Systems approach, the LCSC will focus on three strategic priorities: 

  • safer people
  • safer vehicles, speeds and infrastructure
  • harnessing knowledge for safety. 

The LCSC will undertake 12 initiatives organised across these three key focus areas.

Under this Strategic Plan, rail and road agencies and other stakeholders will commit to working collaboratively to achieve safer level crossings, and ultimately create a safe and efficient transport system in NSW working Towards Zero trauma. 

Level Crossing Policy

To minimise risks to the public, TfNSW has developed three 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.

Speed Limit on Approach to Active Level Crossings Policy

The purpose of this policy is to set speed limits to a maximum of 80 kilometres per hour on approach to level crossings actively controlled by flashing lights or flashing lights and boom gates.

This policy will reduce the risk of crashes between road vehicles and trains at level crossings. Reducing road speeds to a maximum of 80 kilometres per hour allows motorists more time to react and decreases the likelihood of vehicles not being able to stop at level crossings.

For further details please visit the Speed Limit Change FAQs.

Research and innovation

TfNSW for NSW collaborates and innovates with key industry stakeholders to undertake 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.

State and national forums

National Level Crossing Safety Committee

The National Level Crossing Safety Committee (NLCSC) is an initiative of the Australasian rail industry. It operates as an inter-agency forum to coordinate national efforts for safer level crossings and reports to the Transport and Infrastructure Senior Officials Committee (TISOC). Its focus is on maximising knowledge-sharing and best practice, and on strategic opportunities such as greater national consistency in data collection/use and technology trials and take up.

The NLCSC is chaired by the Chief Executive - Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI) and includes representatives from Australasian jurisdictions, government and private rail operators, RIMs, rail industry associations, regulators, and the Australia New Zealand Police Advisory Agency. Its secretariat support function is provided by the TrackSAFE Foundation.

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.

The Rail Safety National Law includes a requirement for interface agreements between road and rail infrastructure managers to identify risks
Breaking road rules on or around level crossings could result in a fine and loss of demerit points.
Use our Level Crossing Finder site in a new window to search and display information about public level crossings in NSW.
Since 2002 we have partnered with road and rail agencies to conduct public education campaigns in regional NSW on level crossing safety.