Types of level crossings

There are around 23,000 level crossings in Australia.

  • 21% of level crossings are ‘ACTIVE’, that is, the have boom gates and/or flashing lights to alert you when a train is coming.
  • 79% of level crossings are ‘PASSIVE’, meaning most have either a ‘Stop’ or ‘Give Way’ sign, so you must check for trains yourself.  These also include crossings on private land.

Several Australian State Governments have significant level crossing removal programs in place.  These either close the level crossing or replace the level crossing with a bridge or tunnel for the trains or vehicles.  The new Australian Government Regional Australia Level Crossing Safety Program includes $160m from 2023-24 – 2026-27 to support lower cost, higher priority level crossing upgrades.

When approaching level crossings, a driver must ALWAYS give way to a train.


At railway level crossings controlled by red flashing lights or boom gates, you must:

  • come to a complete stop when flashing lights have started flashing; and
  • not proceed until the lights stop flashing, the boom gates have lifted and the tracks are clear of trains. If a train passes but the lights don’t stop and/ or boom doesn’t rise, don’t assume there’s a fault – there might be another train coming!
  • If the lights, bells and boom gates continue for a long period of time and there does not appear to be a train coming, you should turn off your vehicle and look for instructions on the electrical box next to the crossing. There is normally an ID number and phone number to call.
  • If the signals are not activated then there is no requirement to stop, however you should still apply safe driving skills and look for trains in both directions to ensure the tracks are clear.


When approaching a level crossing protected by a ‘STOP’ sign, you must:

  • come to a complete stop before the holding line or well clear of the tracks, in a position where you can see in both directions along the tracks;
  • look for trains in both directions; and
  • only proceed over the tracks if there are no trains approaching.

At level crossings protected by a ‘GIVE WAY’ sign you must:

  • slow down and prepare to stop – even if you don’t think a train will be on the track at this time;
  • look for trains in both directions along the tracks;
  • only proceed over the tracks if there are no trains approaching.

10 January 2023