Cars waiting for Metro train to pass at level crossing.

Railway level crossings

Find out the important things to be aware of around boom gates and railway crossings

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Rules for level crossings

Driving around railway crossings can be dangerous if you don’t know the rules.

In 2015 the Victorian Government started off a major initiative to remove a number of dangerous railway crossings to improve safety and reduce congestion – but there are still a lot remaining. Here, we run through what to remember when you come across one.

Level crossings

It’s not safe for drivers or pedestrians to enter a level crossing if:

  • a train is close to approaching
  • a train is on the crossing
  • warning lights are flashing
  • warning bells are ringing
  • the boom or barrier is closed, in the process of closing, or not fully open
  • the road beyond the crossing is blocked.

You need to wait until all warning lights and bells have stopped, the boom gates are fully opened, and the train has passed before you proceed.

In these circumstances, you need to obey any other signs or line markings in the area and keep a look out for any trains before you continue. If you see one approaching, stop.

Pedestrians shouldn’t cross at a level crossing if a pedestrian facility (such as a footpath, bridge or other dedicated structure) is available at or within 20 metres of the crossing.

For more information about works and disruptions, head to Victoria’s Big Build website, or to the Level Crossing Removal Project website.

For more, see rules 120 to 124 of the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2017.

The blitz to remove a number of level crossings across Melbourne has well and truly ramped up. The removal of these crossing will improve access for drivers, riders and bus passengers, enable more frequent train services to be provided and make communities safer. It will also mean disruptions in the short term until the works are complete.

For information on the current road and rail disruptions click here. If you will be travelling through areas undergoing works, it’s important to be prepared. Here are some things to keep in mind.

1. Plan ahead

The roads around these projects are congested, with some traffic lanes blocked and other roads closed altogether. You will need to give yourself extra time to get to your destination. Remember to drive safely and patiently and take note of changed traffic conditions. Public transport will also take longer along these routes, with buses currently replacing train services where needed. Make sure to check PTV’s website for live travel updates before you start your journey.

We’ve heard that crowded bus replacement services are causing problems, for example school children unable to get on. If your child has a travel buddy for safety on public transport, it may be hard for them to get on a crowded bus together. It is important that you give advice to children about what to do so they’re not stressed if this happens.

2. Try something new

If you normally drive or catch a train for short trips, why not try walking or riding a bike instead. Not only will you get extra exercise, you may even get to your destination quicker. Pedestrian access is being maintained on at least one side at all times at North, McKinnon and Centre roads. If you’re going to the shops, it’s handy to have a backpack with you to carry things home.

3. Consider riding your bike

With some stations completely closed while works are underway, nearby stations will be experiencing higher volumes of passengers – this also means more drivers struggling to find a car park around the station. If you’re one of these people, consider riding your bike to the station instead. PTV has a list of all the stations that have bike racks and cages. For information on taking your bike on the train with you, click here. These maps can help you select the best route to take.

4. Ride your motorcycle

If you have a motorcycle and experience at riding in heavy traffic in wet weather, then your motorcycle might be handy right now. The new filtering laws enable you to filter past traffic at less than 30km/h. Check the rules for filtering and enjoy the benefit of your motorcycle while car drivers are stuck in traffic. Remember to wear full protective gear too.

5. Receive weekly updates

You can sign up here to receive weekly updates on the project including information on travel disruptions. If you can’t find what you’re looking for on the Level Crossing Removal Project website you can call their 24-hour enquiries line on 1800 762 667.

Remember to be patient while the works are taking place because the sooner the works are complete the sooner you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits of improved travel around Melbourne. How are you finding the Level Crossing Removal Project? Have you had to change your daily commute?

The summaries RACV provide on Victorian road rules are based on the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2017. We make sure to reference the exact rule where possible. When reading, keep in mind that we’re providing general information, not legal advice. If you’re looking for specific questions on any legal matter, consult with a lawyer for help.