Bells are installed at many public level crossings. They play an essential part in warning people that a train is approaching.
In some situations where local residents consider level crossing bells a nuisance, we are now installing electronic bells. These bells reduce the sound level from the normal level of between 85 and 105 dBA (A-weighted decibels) to 75 dBA, the internationally accepted safety standards for ‘quiet’ level crossing bells. In addition, while these electronic bells radiate sound in all directions, the sound is more ‘localised’ than traditional electro-mechanical bells, meaning it does not travel so widely. There are currently 70 crossings on the KiwiRail network with quiet bells.
Quiet bells are not suitable for all crossings because they can reduce pedestrian safety. For this reason, local roading authorities must review local circumstances and authorise their use. For example, quiet bells should not be used if there is a high level of background noise near the crossing or it is regularly used by people who are visually impaired.
If you would like to apply to have quiet bells installed in your area, please contact your local council.
In line with international rail safety practices, we no longer switch bells off at night in areas with significant pedestrian traffic.