About driving

Giving way

Giving way at railway level crossings

A railway level crossing is a point where the road crosses over a railway line. This means you drive over the railway tracks and could come into the path of a train. Because of this, you need to be very careful around railway level crossings to avoid a very serious crash.

Crossing a railway level crossing

The signs below are some of the signs you may see when coming up to a railway level crossing.

Railway crossing signRailway crossing sign

Railway level crossing signs

When you see one of these signs:

  • slow down and be ready to stop
  • as you come up to the railway crossing, search up and down the railway line. You will need to search further up the railway line, as trains often travel at a higher speed than vehicles on the road
  • cross only if you are sure there are no trains coming in either direction and there are no vehicles stopped in front of you on the other side of the crossing.

At railway level crossings controlled by signals, bells and barrier arms

Many railway level crossings are controlled by flashing red signals, bells and/or barrier arms, as shown below.

Railway level crossing signals and barrier arms

Railway level crossing signals and barrier arms

You must stop if the signals have started flashing, the bells have started ringing and/or the barrier arm has started to lower.

Don't cross until the barrier arms have lifted, the lights have stopped flashing and the bells have stopped ringing.

At railway level crossings controlled by a Stop sign or Give Way sign

Railway level crossings that aren't controlled by signals, bells or barrier arms may be controlled by a Stop sign or a Give Way sign.

At railway crossings controlled by Stop or Give Way signs:

  • make sure you can see in both directions along the railway line
  • if there is a Stop sign, come to a complete stop before the railway line (there will usually be one or two yellow lines showing you where to stop)
  • only cross the railway line if you are sure that there are no trains coming in either direction and there are no vehicles stopped in front of you on the other side of the crossing
  • take extra care if there is more than one railway line.
Picture of a railway level crossing Give Way signPicture of a railway level crossing Stop sign

Railway level crossing signs

Important safety advice for railway level crossings

  • Never try to cross the railway line unless there is enough space for your vehicle on the other side of the line.
  • Never pass a vehicle that has stopped for a train.
  • Never try to race a train over the crossing.

Following other vehicles over railway level crossings

Take special care when following other vehicles when coming up to a railway level crossing. Some vehicles (such as buses and vehicles carrying dangerous goods) are legally required to come to a complete stop before crossing, even when there are no lights flashing or bells ringing.

< previous | next >

Last updated: 4 October 2012