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ARCHIVED - Incidents on or near to railway crossings

Hazard Knowledge

Level crossings are railway lines crossed by a road or right of way without using a tunnel or bridge. Crossings are categorised into two main groups, although the layout, configuration and use of level crossings vary from location to location, so each one is essentially unique:

  • Active crossings - these crossings give vehicle users and pedestrians warning of a train's approach by closing gates or barriers, or with warning lights and/or sound
  • Passive crossings - these crossings have no warning system to indicate a train's approach and the road user or pedestrian is responsible for ensuring that they can cross safely

Fire and rescue service involvement at these locations includes many instances of road vehicles being struck by rail vehicles. These incidents can require careful assessment in terms of applying appropriate control measures, and local crews should be thoroughly familiar with the level crossings in their area.

Without compromising emergency responder or public safety, the incident commander will need to consider the impact of any request on the wider rail system.

When attending railway incidents, incident commanders must determine and establish proportionate control measures over rail vehicle movements and traction current that take into account local standard operating procedures and relevant national guidance. For any incident on or affecting a level crossing, rail vehicle movements must be stopped and any electrical current present must be isolated.

If implementing control measures such as stopping rail vehicle movements, and where switching off traction current is necessary, it is recommended that confirmation is received from the rail infrastructure manager before committing emergency responders. Any debris on level crossings can have a devastating effect on rail vehicles and this should be reported to the rail authority and trains stopped until cleared.