Level crossing are dangerous. Let's be blunt about this! There are several deaths each year attributed to the misuse of level crossings, many more non-fatal accidents and hundreds of near misses involving pedestrians and motorists who seem willing to take unnecessary risks.

 

 

 

There are several types of level crossing in the UK. Certain "rules" apply to all types

 

Procedure:

 

  1. Keep looking all around your vehicle until completely clear of the crossing.
  2. Drive carefully and approach crossings with great care. Always be prepared to stop.
  3. Before entering the level crossing ensure your exit is clear and that you can safely exit the crossing.
  4. Do not tailgate.
  5. Do not change gear until completely clear of the crossing.
  6. Do not operate any ancillary equipment until completely clear of the crossing.
  7. Do not stop until completely clear of the crossing.

 

 

 

Automatic barrier level crossings

 

Automatic barrier level crossings are frequently seen in the UK and can utilise either a full barrier extending the entire width of the road or half barriers the extend across one side of the carriageway.

 

As a train approaches the level crossing, a warning sign will begin to flash. The amber light will initially show followed by the flashing red lights. You must stop and wait at the white stop line when the amber or red lights are illuminated. An audio alarm is emitted for pedestrians and blind drivers.

 

Procedure:

 

  1. Drive carefully up to the crossing and be prepared to stop at the white line should the lights begin to flash.
  2. Before entering the level crossing ensure your exit is clear and that you can safely exit the crossing.
  3. If the amber light is on or the red lights are flashing, you must stop behind the white line.
  4. If the amber light comes on and you have already crossed the white line, keep going to exit the crossing.
  5. Red lights may keep flashing for some time after the train has passed. This means another train is coming.

 

Only cross when the barriers are fully raised and the lights go off.

 

Gated manual controlled level crossing

 


Gated level crossings are manually controlled by railway staff and utilised two gates that extend across the entire width of the road. Once the train has passed, the operator will reopen the gates. Only proceed past the stop line when both gates are fully open and railway staff have exited the crossing area.

 

If there appears to be a long delay after the train has passed, this usually means another train is coming.

 

Procedure:

 

  1. Drive carefully up to the crossing watching for any railway staff preparing to close the gates.
  2. Ensure the exit of the crossing is clear before entering to allow for safe exit.
  3. A railway member of staff will shut the gates if a train is coming.

 

Wait until the railway member of staff has fully reopened the gates before crossing.

 

Open level crossings

 

Open level crossings have no barriers or gates. All open crossings have signs and some have lights and audio alarms such as those found at automatic level crossings. Open crossings have a give way line instead of a stop line. Extreme caution must be used when approaching open level crossings

 

Open level crossings are used far less frequently than automatic or gated crossings due to the dangers associated with no barriers. They can be located on rural roads where traffic is at a minimum.

 

Procedure:

 

  1. Drive with extreme caution up to the crossing and be ready to stop behind the white line.
  2. Look both ways to ensure a train is not coming.
  3. Before entering the crossing ensure your exit is clear.

 

Continue to look both ways and only cross if no train is coming

 

User operated level crossings

 

User operated level crossings have gates or barriers that are operated by the person wishing to cross the level crossing. These crossings may sometimes have warning lights. A person must only cross if the green light is shown. Telephones can sometimes be available at these crossings.

 

 

 

Procedure:

 

  1. Barriers or gates must both be opened before crossing, checking that it is safe to proceed and once crossed, both gates or barriers must be closed Stop, look and listen in both directions to make sure a train is not coming. If a train is coming wait in a safe place.
  2. Open the gates on both sides of the level crossing.
  3. Look once again to ensure no train is coming, make sure the exit is clear, cross quickly and stay alert, do not stop on the crossing.
  4. Close both gates after crossing, never leave them open.

 

The above are the main types of level crossings seen on UK roads. There are however many variations of level crossings and these change depending whether they are on public or private roads, or if the crossings are for vehicles, pedestrians or animals.

 

The level of protection varies on these factors and also on the location of a crossing, such as whether it is in a busy location, located close to junctions and also the nature of the railway traffic itself.