What are level crossings


A level crossing is where a railway crosses a road or right of way on the level; that means without the use of a tunnel or bridge. 

This includes footpaths, bridleways and cycle ways. The term ‘highway’ is also often used. A highway is usually defined in common law as any road (including byways), footpath or bridleway to which the public have access.

Level crossings provide access routes across the railway for the public and private access for landowners. They range from rural footpath crossings to hi-tech road crossings with obstacle detection systems and automatic barriers. 

In Great Britain, there are around 5,800 level crossings on the mainline railway and approximately 1,500 on heritage and minor lines. More information about level crossings on the mainline network, their location and how to use them safely is available from Network Rail’s website.

Some level crossings - approximately 2,000 on the mainline railway are user worked crossings. These require people to operate the crossing themselves. We have available guidance documents on user worked crossings, which we are in the process of reviewing. In the meantime they are listed below:

The Level Crossing Risk Management toolkit is a web-based tool produced by RSSB (Rail Safety and Standards Board) that helps people to assess risk factors for a particular level crossing. This toolkit particularly focusses on human factors.  

Safety performance

Level crossing safety performance analysis for the mainline railway is conducted by RSSB available in their annual level crossings performance report. This includes information on fatalities and injuries each year. RSSB also periodically produce a Level Crossing Digest which provides further information on historical incidents and the history of level crossings.