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Level crossing safety

Sixteen collisions and 129 near collisions with motor vehicles were reported in the twelve months ending 30 June 2013.

Number of crossings and types of protection

There are around 1,330 public road level crossings and 110 stand-alone public pedestrian level crossings on the KiwiRail rail network in New Zealand.

Of the road level crossings:

  • 278 (21 per cent) are protected by half-arm barriers plus flashing lights and bells
  • 423 (32 per cent) are protected by flashing lights and bells
  • The remaining 47 per cent are protected by passive signs alone.

Of the stand-alone public pedestrian crossings:

  • 11 are protected by automatic gates or barriers
  • 32 are protected by flashing signs or flashing lights plus bells.

Road level crossing collisions

In the 12 months ending 30 June 2013 there were 16 collisions and 129 reported near collisions with motor vehicles

Over the past ten years, there were:

  • 235 public road level crossing collisions between road vehicles and rail vehicles at 196 different locations – an average of 23.5 collisions a year. Compare this with over 4,000 injury collisions at other road intersections in a typical year.

Where these occurred:

  • About 12 per cent of these occured where where half-arm barriers plus flashing lights and bells are installed (half-arm barriers eliminate around 90 per cent of collisions)
  • 37 per cent occurred where flashing lights and bells were installed (flashing lights and bells eliminate about 65 per cent of collisions)
  • The remaining collisions occurred at crossings protected by signs alone.

In any 10 year period, over 80 per cent of road level crossings are collision free. A small group of ‘collision black spot’ level crossings, with two or more collisions within 10 years, are responsible for around 36% of all collisions.

Because railway level crossing collisions are comparatively rare they attract more publicity than a collision at a road intersection.

Pedestrian level crossing collisions

Over the past 10 years there were:

  • 34 collisions between pedestrians and rail vehicles at 32 different locations – an average of 3 – 4 per year. Compare this with around 300 pedestrian collisions at road intersections a year. Because railway pedestrian level crossing collisions are so rare, they attract more publicity than an equivalent collision on a road.

Where these occurred:

  • About 60 per cent of pedestrian level crossing collisions occur at paths alongside public road level crossings
  • About 75 per cent of pedestrian collisions occur where automatic alarms are installed
  • About 40 per cent of fatal pedestrian collisions are suicides.

We recommend people crossing the rail corridor do not use headphones. This prevents you from hearing approaching trains.

Standards and Policies

Public level crossing protection standards are agreed between KiwiRail and NZTA (New Zealand Transport Agency). Standards of protection and responsibilities are described in the following documents:

Costs of level crossing protection

Typical costs of automatic alarm systems for level crossings are:

  • Flashing lights and bell alarms - $140,000 + GST
  • Half-arm barriers plus flashing lights and bell alarms - $200,000 + GST
  • Road overbridge to replace level crossing - $5 million + GST

For more information

Have an issue?

If any level crossing equipment (road or pedestrian) is damaged or faulty, call us urgently on 0800 808 400 - please do not email us.

Issues may include:

  • Delays in barriers opening or closing
  • Damage or faults to gates, barriers or other level crossing equipment
  • Damaged or obscured signs