Crossing safely

Rail crossing safety banner

It’s easy to fall into a routine when you commute every day, but if you're routinely distracted around rail crossings and tram tracks, the results can be fatal.

Rail crossings need your full attention, so please stop using your phone, lower your volume and always check your surroundings.

Here are some useful tips to keep you safe around public transport. And always remember to STOP BEFORE YOU CROSS.

Pedestrians

Train: Safe use of pedestrian crossings

It's 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 then look and listen in all directions for approaching trains.
  • Think about when it's safe to cross. This is when 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 you're 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. Don't go back to where you entered the crossing.

Tram: Safe use of pedestrian crossings

Trams can take much longer and farther to stop than you may think. It’s important to be extra careful when crossing tram tracks whether you are a pedestrian, motorist, or cyclist. So here are some tips:

  • When crossing tracks, watch and listen for trams in both directions
  • When crossing roads to get on and off trams, watch and listen for traffic
  • Pedestrians should cross tram tracks at designated pedestrian crossings only
  • When one tram has passed, be aware that another tram may be passing behind it in the opposite direction.

Drivers

Always keep tracks clear

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

  • 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 boom gates that are coming down or going up. This means a train is nearby or a second train may be approaching.
  • Never drive around boom gates when they're down — it's very likely that an oncoming train is close to the crossing.
  • Never queue on a railway crossing. If you've stopped on a crossing and a train is approaching, immediately drive off the track or get out of your car and move clear. The train will probably not be able to stop in time.

Remember to check for trams

We have the world’s largest operational tram network with 250km of double track that provides over 5000 individual trips every day. Melbourne's tram network is unique, with 75% of it shared with other vehicles and road users.

This makes for a more complex road environment, especially if you are unfamiliar with sharing the road with trams.

For information on how to safely share the road and check for trams, see Trams can't swerve.

Slow down and be prepared to stop

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

  • Not every railway crossing has 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.

Using farm crossings

Take care when using farm crossings:

  • when entering a property, stop well clear of the tracks, open the gate 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.

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 isn't enough space ahead. Make sure your path is clear before you start to cross. You don't want to realise you're 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.

See VicRoads' train and level crossings road rules.

Safety initiatives

The Victorian Railway Crossing Safety Strategy 2018 to 2027 aims to save lives and reduce incidents at level crossings.

We are a proud supporter of the TrackSAFE Foundation, established by the Australian rail industry to reduce collisions, injuries and fatalities on the rail network.

TrackSAFE coordinates Rail Safety Week in August each year to engage the community in safe rail practices, and an annual Rail R U OK? Day.

For more information, see the Tracksafe Foundation website.