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. You need to be careful around railway level crossings to avoid a very serious crash.

Crossing a railway level crossing

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

A yellow diamond with a black border and black steam train in the centre.

Two long white rectangles with black borders. The words railway printed on one and crossing on the other

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’ll 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’re sure no trains are coming in either direction and no vehicles are 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.

Two white poles with large red lights on either side. A sign saying tracks sits on the pole under the lights. The second pole has an arm with red dashes that raises up and down.

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, the bells have stopped ringing and there are no trains coming in either direction.

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 level crossings controlled by a stop sign or a give way sign:

  • make sure you can see in both directions along the railway line
  • if there’s a stop sign, come to a complete stop before the railway line – there will usually be one or 2 yellow lines showing you where to stop
  • only cross the railway line if you’re sure that no trains are coming in either direction and no vehicles are stopped in front of you on the other side of the crossing
  • take extra care if there's more than one railway line.
A red and white pole with a crossed railway crossing sign at the top and a give way sign underneath.

A red and white pole with a crossed railway crossing sign at the top and a stop sign underneath.


  • Never try to cross the railway line unless there's enough space for your vehicle on the other side of the line.

  • Never pass a vehicle that's stopped for a train.

  • Never try to race a train over the crossing.

Following other vehicles over railway level crossings

Take extra care when following buses and vehicles carrying dangerous goods approaching a railway level crossing as they may be legally required to come to a complete stop before crossing.