Rail environment

Level crossings

A level crossing is the point at which the railway crosses over either a public or private road on the same level.

There are around 1,320 public road level crossings and 122 stand-alone public pedestrian level crossings on the KiwiRail rail network in New Zealand.  Of the road level crossings, 280 (21 per cent) are protected by half-arm barriers plus flashing lights and bells.  425 (32 per cent) are protected by flashing lights and bells, and the remaining 47 per cent of crossings are protected by either Give Way or Stop signs.

Of the stand-alone pedestrian crossings, 12 are protected by automatic gates or barriers and 32 are protected by flashing signs or flashing lights plus bells.

There are also an additional estimated 1,340 level crossings on private land.


Everyone has a responsibility to keep themselves and others safe on the railway and around level crossings.

Road users

Motorists are responsible for stopping at stop signs and looking for trains, and for stopping where there are barrier arms and flashing lights operating.  You must also look for trains at level crossings where there are Give Way or Stop signs, and never cross the track when a train is approaching.


Pedestrians are responsible for only crossing the railway at a designated pedestrian crossing.  You must stop, look and listen for trains, especially when bells or lights are operating.  Pedestrians must never cross the tracks when a train is approaching.


KiwiRail is responsible for maintaining automatic alarm systems at public level crossings (lights, bells and barrier arms) and the Stop and Give Way signs at crossings without alarm systems.  KiwiRail is also responsible for ensuring adequate view lines, so that people can see an approaching train. 

KiwiRail must also maintain the road surface within five metres of the railway. 

KiwiRail also determines priorities for the installation of new or upgraded alarm systems, and sets safety standards.

Road controlling authorities

Road controlling authorities (usually the local city or regional Council) are responsible for road markings at level crossings and for maintaining the road surface leading to a level crossing. 

They must also maintain the paths and fencing at standalone pedestrian level crossings. 

The maintenance of advance warning signs approaching level crossings (such as the yellow and black train pictogram) is also the responsibility of road controlling authorities. 

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