Train crossing a road at a level crossing

ORR finalises new level crossing safety guidance

New guidance has been published by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) to support Network Rail, heritage and other non-mainline railways, as well as local authorities, to support the management of risks at level crossings.

The new guidance - Principles for managing level crossing safety - emphasises the need for risk to be reduced through level crossing design or through an alternative way of crossing the railway line where reasonably practicable. It also covers the importance of considering how level crossing are used.

There are currently around 5,800 level crossings on the mainline railway, with around another 1,500 on heritage railways.

Safety at crossings has been improved in recent years.

The ORR guidance backs a risk-based approach, ensuring cost is taken into account when considering safety measures, but does not specify requirements or solutions. This is to allow a proportionate, case-by-case approach to be made by duty holders.

To support the new guidance, ORR has published a series of examples to demonstrate how the principles may be applied in practice.

Ian Prosser CBE, HM Chief Inspector of Railways, ORR said: “With more than 7,000 level crossings in Britain, there is no one size fits all approach to safety. Every level crossing is different and risk assessments should take account of the circumstances of each one.

“We’ve acted on feedback from our consultation to improve the clarity of the principles and factors in the new guidance.

“Our guidance will help support industry to make informed decisions about managing level crossing risks and encourage a collaborative approach to improve safety for all level crossing users.”

The new guidance follows a consultation in January which found the industry welcomed the focus on managing level crossing risk in a collaborative manner.

The new principles mark a step change from previous guidance, known as RSP7, which described level crossing methods of operation and layout. RSP7 will be withdrawn from use over time.

Rob Wainwright, Head of Level Crossings at Network Rail and Chair of the industry level crossing strategy group, added: “We welcome this update of the level crossing guidance and the move towards a more risk-based principles approach, and I’d like to thank the ORR for allowing the wider level crossing community and stakeholders to engage and input into this process.

“Having worked with the ORR on some of the case studies to come, I am in no doubt they will be a great support in encouraging the risk-based approach required of us to effectively manage our level crossing estate.

“The principles will encourage more effective collaboration and greater innovation in level crossing risk management, which will ultimately reduce risk at level crossings in the future.”

RTM Aug/Sept 21


Milestones | The markers of success which HS2 is targeting over the coming years

Our August/September 2021 edition of RTM covers many of the changing aspects of the rail industry, including key changes involving infrastructure and stations. Read our breakdown of the key milestones with HS2 between now and 2024, while elsewhere we investigate the role which hydrogen fuels could have on UK rolling stock. We also delve into the ever-growing digital world of the rail industry, while from Page 65 onwards, we include our Railtex / Infrarail 2021 supplement – your chance to gain a wealth of valuable information about the exhibition, right at your fingertips.


View all videos
Net Zero Rail

RTM365 Online Festival

Net Zero Rail
21st October 2021

The net-zero mission is only just getting started. Join #RTM365 on the 21st October to join the journey as we unite with industry leaders and energy experts to determine the 'green' future of the rail industry.


The Green Rail Revolution

Maria Machancoses, Director of Midlands Connect discusses the importance of HS2 to the Midlands and the UK, their collaborative work with the Department for Transport, and how we need to embrace the railways again.

More articles...

View all