A level crossing is where a railway line is crossed by a road or right of way on the level; that means without the use of a tunnel or bridge.
There are approximately 7,500 level crossings in Great Britain. Network Rail manages around 6,000. The rest are located on heritage railways, metro systems and industrial railways.
Statement on level crossings by Ian Prosser, HM Chief Inspector of Railways and ORR's Director of Safety:
Great Britain's level crossings, although among the safest in Europe, still pose a significant safety risk to the public. ORR encourages the rail industry to close level crossings wherever possible. Where this is impracticable, we are pushing the industry to deliver innovative solutions such as using new technology to make crossings safer. ORR inspects the industry's management of level crossings to check that legal safety requirements are being met. Where failings are found, immediate action is taken to ensure the crossing is made safe.
ORR's Strategy for regulation of health and safety at level crossings
Level Crossings are a priority risk area for ORR and we have set out our approach to regulating them in a Strategic Risk Chapter - Strategic Risk Chapter 4 Level Crossings.
This provides more detail on how we use our regulatory activity to encourage improvements in level crossing safety.
Level crossing risk
Level crossings create the potential for serious train accidents because of the risk of collision with a road vehicle. Crossings account for nearly half of the estimated catastrophic train accident risk on Britain's railways. We believe that the safe design, management and operation of level crossings can reduce risks, have a positive effect on the behavior of crossing users and reduce the number of fatal and serious incidents.