Freight train visibility

Assessment of trials to improve train conspicuousness approaching passive level crossings – Monash Institute of Railway Technology, March 2023

In March 2022, the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator engaged Monash Institute of Rail Technology to design a scientific testing regime to validate two suggested recommendations from the ACRI report (see below) under supervised trial conditions. These two being:

  1. flashing beacons on locomotives; and
  2. conversion of locomotive headlights from halogen globes to light-emitting diode (LED).

ONRSR has now received the Assessment of Trials to Improve Train Conspicuousness Approaching Passive Level Crossings – Final Report. This technical report is available here.

ACRI Freight Train Visibility Review – 2022

Previous research conducted by the Australasian Centre for Rail Innovation (ACRI) has identified that level crossing safety may be improved if steps are made to make freight vehicles more conspicuous (LC13-Better Stimulus Around Level Crossing Control – Initial Project), i.e. more noticeable to road users and pedestrians.

SNC-Lavalin has worked with the Australian Centre for Rail Innovation, the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator, Freight on Rail Group, Australian Railway Association, Rail Industry Safety and Standards Board and the TrackSAFE Foundation to identify potential opportunities that may improve freight vehicle conspicuity and driver awareness when interacting with passive level crossings.

The assessment has been limited to freight vehicle mounted systems and educational initiatives for road users.

To understand the potential opportunities available and to develop informed conclusions on control efficacy, SNC-Lavalin conducted literature reviews of publicly available documentation, stakeholder engagement workshops, reviews of Australian standards and data analysis of previous collisions an near-misses.

The report has identified and assessed thirty controls that may improve conspicuity. These are categorised as follows:

  • Immediate opportunities (15)
  • Medium-term opportunities (11)
  • Long term opportunities (2)
  • Other (2)

This categorisation pertains only to the perceived timeframe of implementation and does not guarantee control efficacy.

It is anticipated that some of these controls will be further considered and trialled over the coming few years.

The report LC35 Freight Train Visibility Review (Final Report) was released in February 2022 and is available here.