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Watch out! Trains are about. Be level crossing safe this harvest season.

Scott Murray - Thursday, October 29, 2015

With the 2015 grain harvest about to get into full swing, now is an ideal time to get familiar with the safety issues around railway level crossings.

Railway lines and level crossings which would ordinarily see very few, if any, trains throughout much of the year can suddenly experience higher volumes of train movements as grain is moved in bulk around the country.

There's a Level Crossing Near You!

Did you know that there are approximately 3800 level crossings in NSW alone?

A stop sign at a railway crossing.

Complacency can kill

In rural areas, many railway tracks and level crossings see very little train activity during the year. As such, over time it is quite easy for your brain to be lulled into the false sense of security that there there will be no trains around most of the time. In such circumstances it is easy to assume that coming across a train at a remote level crossing will be a rare event. Contrast this to the scenario of living in Sydney - where your brain assumes that there are always trains busily travelling the vast metropolitan rail network. 

Don't be a victim of complacency.

According to the Transport for NSW website (TfNSW) "Research has shown that 57 per cent of collisions involve motorists who live within 10 kilometres of a level crossing. Regular users of level crossings can sometimes be overly confident due to a perceived familiarity of the area."

Remaining Vigilant

The simplest and most effective way to avoid being struck by a moving train at a railway level crossing is to treat every railway crossing as an active railway crossing. Take the conscious approach that the railway line is active and is always active. You wouldn't close your eyes and just walk across a road without looking first - don't cross a railway line without giving it the same level of respect and caution.

Keep it simple, keep it safe

The following are some key simple rules to help you avoid colliding with trains at level crossings:

  1. Adopt the mental approach that the railway line is active
  2. Obey all level crossing signs and warning devices (eg stop signs, flashing lights and boom gates)
  3. Check and double check that the line is actually clear before you cross it - don't just check as you cross it. It will be too late!!

This TfNSW web page has some interesting and easy to read safety information on railway level crossings.

Graphic from the NSW Transport safety campaign, saying: Don't rush to the other side.

Transport for NSW's community awareness campaign on level crossing safety is particularly pertinent during harvest season, when railway traffic increases.

The Final Word

Whilst many level crossing have been upgraded over the past years there are still many level crossings which do not have signals and/or boomgates installed. Most of the level crossings which have not been upgraded are on private roads so it is vitally important that all drivers are mindful of the dangers of level crossings on all roads - all year round.

Don't become a level crossing statistic this harvest season.

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