Rail crossing safety awareness

Don't push your crossing luck

Most people are unaware of the penalties associated with pushing their luck and illegally entering a level crossing while warning signals are flashing and sounding, or a train is visible. They are substantial.

As a driver, you can be fined $758 and lose 4 demerit points. Depending on how many points you have left, this could mean you lose your licence.

Pedestrians can be fined up to $379. So don't waste your hard earned cash, be aware and alert around level crossings and trains. Take off those headphones and listen!

Of course, the maximum penalty can be catastrophic. You are putting yours and others' lives at risk if you disobey the rules. Between you and a train, you will come off second best.

Rail Safety Week runs from 10 - 16 August 2015.

For more information, see the Rail Safety Week website.

Always keep tracks clear

Impatience can be fatal. It takes a train more than 200 metres to stop, therefore: 

  • Never enter a level crossing if red lights are flashing. Wait for the lights to stop flashing before driving across railway tracks
  • Never drive under ascending or descending boom gates as an oncoming train is in the vicinity or a second train may be approaching
  • Never drive around boom gates when they are down - it is very likely that an oncoming train is close to the crossing
  • Never queue on a railway crossing - if you have stopped on a crossing and a train is approaching, immediately drive off the track or get out of your car and move clear. It is more likely than not, that the train will not be able to stop in time.

Slow down and be prepared to stop

It is important to take extra care when approaching a railway crossing and get into the habit of stopping, looking and listening for any sign of a train:

  • Not all railway crossings have warning bells and lights - for your own safety, always expect a train to be coming, keep your eyes open and your wits about you
  • Never rely on just a timetable to know if a train is due
  • Never race a train to a railway crossing
  • Trains can be travelling in either direction along the same track and on multiple tracks - be alert for more than one train passing through the crossing at the same time
  • Don't be fooled by an optical illusion - trains in the distance are often closer and travelling faster than they appear.

See also VicRoads' Trains and level crossings road rules.

Using farm crossings

Take care when using farm crossings:

  • when entering a property, stop well clear of the tracks, open the gate and then drive across after looking and listening for approaching trains
  • when leaving a property, never park a vehicle on the tracks while closing a gate - in the time it takes to open and close a gate, a train can be upon you.

Safe use of rail pedestrian crossings

It is everyone's responsibility to use level crossings safely:

  • Cross railway lines at marked crossings only.
  • Stop one step back from the edge of the crossing before looking and listening in all directions for approaching trains.
  • Think about when it is safe to cross. This is when the tracks are clear and there are no trains approaching.
  • If a train is coming, wait for it to pass, then stop, look, listen and think again before crossing. Another train may be coming.
  • Always obey all warning signs.
  • Never jump fences, gates or barriers at crossings.
  • Never force pedestrian barriers open or use the emergency escape to enter pedestrian crossings, except in case of an emergency.
  • Children should always be supervised around public transport. Hold the hand of children up to five years old when crossing rail lines.
  • If using a wheelchair or mobility aid, or pushing a pram or stroller, and the barriers start to close while you are on the crossing, always go to the emergency escape gate ahead of you and not back to where you entered the crossing.

Information for heavy vehicle drivers

Trains always have the right of way. Use your experience to protect yourself at railway crossings. This is particularly important at unprotected crossings in regional areas:

  • Think about stopping distances - Some crossings have lights and boom gates. Others have a stop or give-way signs but all crossings require you to stop. Prepare early, make sure you give your truck enough time to pull up.
  • Look out for short-stacking - This is when your truck hangs over the crossing because there is not enough space ahead. Make sure your path is clear before you start to cross. You don't want to realise you are stuck halfway.
  • Check for problems with visibility - Some conditions make it harder to check for trains at crossings. Don't gamble at s-bend roads, in glare or when roadside objects obscure your view. Slow down and make sure you are safe to cross.