Level crossings – do’s and don’ts

At Slovenske železnice we are serious about your safety on and around the railway, and we know you are too. Railway crossings, also known as level crossings are life saviours which keep us safe from trains, so join us as we help you use them correctly.

Follow the warnings!

Make sure you are always prepared to stop when you reach the tracks. Check both ways before crossing – if there is a train coming, don’t cross. Keep in mind that rail traffic has absolute priority (known as »right-of-way«) over road and other traffic, including pedestrians, because trains cannot stop quickly or swerve out of the way like a car; a train travelling at 60mph can take well over a mile to emergency stop. When the alarms and flashing lights at a road crossing are active, remain stationary until all the warnings stop, because there might be another train coming if there is more than one track.

Don’t race around the barriers!

It can be tempting to jump the lights or zigzag between two half barriers once lowered. Don’t do it – you’re putting lives at risk. Automatic barriers are lowered and raised when the train runs pass a specific check point on the rails. Keep in mind there is no set amount of time from a barrier activating to the train arriving, and often the train arrives much faster than expected.

Warning lights

Warning lights are some of the main elements of protection against track dangers, and are typically installed at road crossings to signal that a train is approaching. We must stop as soon as the lights come on and not cross until the lights stop flashing. Where there are full or half barriers, the lights start flashing when the barriers are about to be lowered, and continue to flash until the barriers are fully raised again. When the warning lights are active, we must NEVER cross the tracks.

Avoid making assumptions

Daily routine can make us careless when crossing the tracks. Don’t use previous experience to guess when the train is coming. Trains can come from either direction at any time.

Never stop on or near a level crossing!

Stationary vehicles and railway crossings spell danger – we must always park or stop our vehicle at least 15 meters away from the tracks, otherwise we might end up blocking the sight of a warning sign, such as St. Andrews Cross, or the flashing lights.

Breakdown at a level crossing

If your vehicle breaks down on a road crossing, you should get everyone out of the vehicle and clear of the crossing immediately, and check if there is a train approaching. When there is time before a train arrives, try moving the vehicle clear of the tracks or ask for other people’s assistance if you are unable to move it on your own. If the alarm sounds, or the flashing lights come on, leave the vehicle and get clear of the crossing immediately. Remember – your car might have been pricey, but your life is priceless.

Only cross on places designated for crossing!

Moving across the railway tracks in places that aren’t designed for crossing puts your life at risk! The train can come at any moment from either direction, and there’s not much left if hit by several hundreds of tonnes rolling at top speed, so make sure to cross the tracks only at the designated road crossings. It is never safe to take a short cut across the tracks – it may cut your life short.

Be extra careful!

Caution should be exercised at every crossing, but we need to be especially vigilant when we’re about to cross the tracks diagonally. We are more likely to misjudge a situation when crossing at an angle, and the risk becomes even higher where our line of sight is obstructed by hindering terrain, or conversely where there is a lot of clearing around the tracks, which can make us overly confident in our estimations, in particular when it comes to the approaching train’s speed. Keep in mind racing the train could be the last thing you’ll ever do!

Slovenske železnice invests to make level crossings safer!

To protect your safety, our trains operate with headlights on throughout the day and sound the horn on approaching dangerous track sections, as well as run at greatly reduced speed when passing through crossings that are ‘open’ and have no barriers. Moreover, we also work to improve our safety systems by installing new automated barriers, as well as renewing the existing road crossings. But at the end of the day the person ultimately responsible for your own personal safety is you. Always follow the warnings and instructions to help maintain safety in both rail and road traffic.

The start of June is marked by the International Level Crossing Awareness Day. As part of an international awareness raising project, we prepared a special video called »Level crossings – do’s and don’ts!« (orig. »Varno čez nivojske prehode!«) to improve the behaviour of road users, pedestrians and cyclists at level crossings.