Skip to main content

Works at or near railway level crossings

Network Rail and Northern Ireland Railways Co. Ltd are transport authorities, but they are also street managers for the portion of street or road within the stop lines at their railway level crossings. In addition, there are some heritage railways that may have level crossings for which they are responsible. This Code is equally applicable to other railway authorities.

There are three main types of railway level crossings:

  • Automatic or manually controlled level crossings with either half-width or full-width barriers and road traffic signals that display a steady amber light for approximately 3 seconds followed by twin red flashing lights as a train approaches. The barriers either descend automatically (automatic crossings) or are controlled manually by the signaller.

  • User-worked crossings that are usually found on private roads such as through farmland or industrial estates. They have barriers and miniature red and green lights, and the red light is activated by approaching trains. Users open the barrier themselves, following instructions on the signs.

  • Open level crossings that have neither gates nor barriers. They rely on traffic signs to warn drivers of the crossing. Some open level crossings have wig-wag signals, like automatic crossings.

The precautionary area of a level crossing is any part of any road, including side roads, that can be reached by following a route leading away from the centre of the crossing for a distance of 200m or less.

This information is provided by Network Rail for inclusion in either the National Street Gazetteer or the Scottish Road Works register. Works planned by any promoter within the precautionary area of a level crossing must be advised to either Network Rail’s Asset Protection Engineer or Northern Ireland Railway’s Third Party Works Engineer at least one month in advance (further in advance if possible) of serving the initial notice, permit application or provisional advance authorisation where a permit scheme is in force. The supervisor, manager or other competent person should check with the works promoter that this has taken place and obtain details of the result of the consultation.

Extreme care must be taken to avoid stationary traffic tailing back across a railway level crossing when street works or road works are being carried out at or near a crossing. Particular attention must be paid to situations where works might cause traffic to tail back over the crossing as a result of long traffic delays, even though they could be a considerable distance from the crossing.

If it is necessary to carry out emergency works near a level crossing, the following must be done before works begin:

  • at automatic half-barrier level crossings and most automatic open crossings, use the emergency telephones to inform the railway employee monitoring the crossing; and

  • at manually-operated or CCTV controlled level crossings the railway employee controlling the crossing is to be informed directly or by telephone as appropriate.

In either case works must not begin until the railway authority advises it is safe to do so.

Warning: Road traffic must never be stopped on a level crossing or tram crossing. Your supervisor, manager or other competent person must contact the railway owner or tramway operator when works are to take place at or near a level crossing, or where traffic queues could affect a level crossing.

Detailed advice on carrying out works on or near railway level crossings is given in the Code of Practice for the Co-ordination of Street Works and Works for Road Purposes that applies in each part of the UK. An example layout for works is shown in the figure in the Works adjacent to railways section of this Code.