Level Crossing Safety

Wherever railway lines meet a road or footpath – a unique set of safety hazards exist.

The combination of speed, people and freight travelling on intersecting rail and road systems has the potential for high impact or catastrophic incidents. Even a collision with a low speed train or tram can result in serious injury or death, particularly for pedestrians.

While all road level crossings on the Adelaide Metropolitan Passenger Railway Network have active warning signals with flashing lights and boom gates, not all pedestrian crossings have active warning systems.

Incidents involving pedestrians and vehicles most frequently occur at railway crossings on the busy Adelaide Metro train lines such as the Gawler Central and Seaford lines.

Vehicle drivers need to pay attention at regional level crossings with the most frequent near-miss incidents reported along the Adelaide-Port Augusta line, the Adelaide-Melbourne and Mt Barker-Victor Harbor lines.

All vehicle drivers need to stay alert and obey the traffic control signs at a level crossing even if the line is not used frequently.

Always make sure you check that the track is clear in both directions before crossing.

Dangerous pedestrian behaviour

While most people try to be safe at railway crossings, common dangerous behaviour includes:

  • Crossing the tracks before the bells/signals have stopped ringing
  • Using umbrellas, headphones, mobile phones and other obstructions or distractions
  • Not looking both ways for trains
  • Taking a short cut by crossing the tracks between platforms instead of using the pedestrian crossing
  • Running through a pedestrian crossing after a train has passed in one direction, not seeing a second train coming from the other direction
  • Being distracted by children or peers when crossing the tracks
  • Running in front of an approaching train
  • Forcing open an active pedestrian barrier
  • Getting off a train then walking behind it and not seeing a train coming from the other direction

These behaviours are resulting mainly from impatience, inattention, complacency, distractions and the lack of awareness as to the rules, dangers and penalties surrounding rail crossing use

Don’t race the train.

It can’t stop quickly. You can.

Always stop and look both ways. Just wait.

Dangerous driver behaviour

Drivers of road vehicles pose a risk at level crossings, even where active visual and audio alerts are in place. It is dangerous to:

  • Queue across tracks with no escape path if a train approaches
  • Enter a level crossing before the boom gates have fully opened or are still coming down
  • Weave around boom-gates or driving through an active crossing
  • Drive through a level crossing with Stop or Give Way signs without slowing down or noticing it
  • Speed up to cross before the train

Don’t chance it.

Stay behind the white line until it’s safe to cross.

Just wait.

How can I stay safe?

  • Always use a pedestrian crossing to cross the tracks
  • Always look both ways for trains
  • If you are in a group, don’t rely on others to check for trains.  Make sure you check too!
  • If you drop something onto the tracks never retrieve it yourself, ask rail staff for help
  • Wait until the lights and signals at a level crossing have stopped ringing before crossing
  • If you are on the platform, pay attention and stay behind the white line.
  • Put your mobile away or take an headphone earbud out so you’re aware of your surroundings
  • Set a good example to others by using safe behaviour
  • When driving follow the Stop and Give Way controls at passive level crossings even if you’re familiar with the crossing.
  • Always make sure the road ahead is clear when travelling  through a level crossing
  • Always wait until the signals have stopped and (if fitted) boom gates fully raised
  • Never weave around boom gates even if you think the crossing is faulty, turn around if you can and find a different route.  The trains are still running.

If you can’t hear the train, you might not see the train.

Always stop and look both ways. Just wait.

Observational studies

DIT is carrying out observational studies at a number of level crossings across metropolitan and rural South Australia that have different safety control measures.  This helps the department to understand pedestrian and driver behaviour and will help to inform future educational and infrastructure initiatives.

The following stations are included in these studies:

  • Hawker Street, Bowden
  • Torrens Road, Ovingham
  • Park Terrace, Salisbury
  • Goodwood Road, Goodwood
  • Morphett Road, Morphettville
  • Jetty Road, Brighton
  • Mannum Road, Murray Bridge
  • Cypress Terrace, Murray Bridge
  • Grantley Avenue, Victor Harbor
  • Murray Terrace, Port Elliot

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