Centre for Road Safety

Speed limit change

Speed limits at level crossings actively controlled by flashing lights, or flashing lights and boom gates, as well as the approaches to them, will be set to a maximum of 80 km/h. The speed limit at active level crossings must be 80 km/h unless:

  • A lower speed limit would be appropriate, in accordance with the NSW speed zoning guidelines
  • There are curve warning signs with an advisory speed plate of 45 km/h or less, in which case a limit of 60 km/h or less is to be adopted
  • The level crossing is within 400 metres of a road terminating.

The Speed Limit on Approach to Active Level Crossings Policy does not alter other requirements for safety assessment and management of level crossings and will reduce the risk of crashes between road vehicles and trains at level crossings. Reducing road speeds to a maximum of 80 km/h allows motorists more time to react and decreases the likelihood of vehicles not being able to stop at level crossings.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What are the benefits of reducing the speed limit on approach to at risk level crossings with boom gates and/or flashing lights?
  2. Why is there a speed reduction on roads approaching level crossings with boom gates and/or flashing lights?
  3. Why is the speed zone being implemented on level crossings controlled by boom gates and/or flashing light signals?
  4. Will all roads leading up to level crossings now be 80 km/h?
  5. When will the speed change occur?
  6. How can I stay up to date with the speed changes at level crossings near me and where can I get more information?
  7. How will the level crossing speed changes be enforced and what will the penalty be?
  8. What impact will the changes have on travel times for drivers?
  9. Is this change a permanent speed limit or variable speed limit?
  10. What other safety improvements have been implemented at level crossings?
  11. Why is there such a focus on level crossings?
  12. How do I safely approach a level crossing?

1. What are the benefits of reducing the speed limit on approach to at risk level crossings with boom gates and/or flashing lights?

The reduction to the speed limit reduces the likelihood of a crash and allows drivers more time to react and stop safely at a level crossing. The speed change applies state-wide to active level crossings on high-speed roads (80km/h+) in an effort to improve the safety of motorists as well as train drivers and their passengers.

2. Why is there a speed reduction on roads approaching level crossings with boom gates and/or flashing lights?

Reducing the road speed to a maximum of 80 km/h gives drivers more time to see and react to boom gates and/or flashing lights, and decreases the likelihood of vehicles not being able to stop at level crossings. Some trains can take up to 14 football fields (1.5 km) to stop at a level crossing, which means that even if trains see you, they can’t stop. The reduction in speed will improve road safety for drivers as well as the safety of train drivers and their passengers.

3. Why is the speed zone being implemented on level crossings controlled by boom gates and/or flashing light signals?

Level crossings controlled by boom gates and/or flashing lights are different to those that only have a stop sign or give way sign, as drivers are not required to lower speed to stop unless the flashing lights have been activated by an approaching train.

To help reduce the risk of crashes at these level crossings between road vehicles and trains, reducing the road speeds to a maximum of 80 km/h, and lower in some instances where applicable, allows drivers more time to react and decreases the likelihood of vehicles not being able to stop at level crossings.

This is consistent with the NSW Traffic Signal Design Guide, where factors in the consideration of providing traffic signals include that the ‘signposted speed limit is not more than 80km/h’.

Level crossing controlled with boom gate and flashing lightsLevel crossing controlled with flashing lightsLevel crossing controlled with stop sign

4. Will all roads leading up to level crossings now be 80 km/h?

The policy applies to all actively-controlled level crossings, crossings that have boom gates and/or flashing lights rather than only stop or give way signs, on high speed roads in NSW. A speed limit of up to 80 km/h, and lower in some instances where applicable, at these level crossings must be adopted unless:

  • A lower speed limit is in place or would be more appropriate in accordance with the NSW speed zoning guidelines
  • There are curve warning signs with an advisory speed plate of 45 km/h or less in which case a limit of 60 km/h or less is adopted
  • The crossing is within 400 metres of a road ending.

5. When will the speed change occur?

The initial change to speed zones will take effect from late April 2021 and continue through to 2022/2023.

6. How can I stay up to date with the speed changes at level crossings near me and where can I get more information?

Please sign up to receive email updates about speed changes across the state on the Safer Roads NSW website. Variable message signage will be used at each location to inform customers of upcoming changes at affected level crossings.

7. How will the level crossing speed changes be enforced and what will the penalty be?

The penalty for disobeying controls at a level crossing is three demerit points and a $464 fine. The NSW Police Force will enforce the change of speed.

8. What impact will the changes have on travel times for drivers?

The changes will have minimal impact on travel times. Transport for NSW modelling shows a sample individual trip of 286 km from Parkes to Griffith (via the Newell Highway) would have a total time impact of 1.2 minutes over the entire trip - approximately 0.25 seconds per km.

9. Is this change a permanent speed limit or variable speed limit?

The reduction in speed limit on the approach to level crossings controlled by boom gates and/or flashing lights is permanent. It is not variable, the maximum speed a vehicle may travel will be indicated by speed signs, the maximum of which will be 80 km/h.

10. What other safety improvements have been implemented at level crossings?

Transport for NSW manages the Level Crossing Improvement Program (LCIP), which each year provides $7.3 million supplementary funding toward accelerating upgrades of priority level crossings, education and enforcement campaigns and other safety initiatives in NSW. Upgrade locations are identified through a priority ranking approach using the Australian Level Crossing Assessment Model (ALCAM), a review of NSW safety incident data and consultation with relevant road managers and rail infrastructure managers.

The range of treatment options available to upgrade the safety protection for all road users at level crossings includes:

  • Advanced warning signs
  • Queuing treatment (cross hatching and signage)
  • Level crossing control and traffic signal interfacing
  • Road realignment
  • Upgrading of the level crossing controls (installation of flashing lights and boom gates)
  • High intensity lights (LEDs)
  • Train speed reduction
  • Rail realignment
  • Sighting distance improvements
  • Closure of the crossing.

11. Why is there such a focus on level crossings?

Although incidents have declined in recent years, the goal is to have zero crashes at level crossings in NSW. You can find more information on level crossing safety on the Transport for NSW website.

12. How do I safely approach a level crossing?

Motorists must:

  • Adhere to the sign posted speed limit
  • Obey stop, give way and other signs and signals
  • Keep clear of the train tracks and not enter the crossing unless there is room for your vehicle on the other side of the tracks
  • Not stop on an area painted with yellow criss-cross lines.

If a level crossing has boom gates and/or flashing lights, you must not start to cross until the signals have stopped flashing and the gates or booms are fully open.