Rail environment

Upgrades to Crossings

KiwiRail plans to carry out eight major upgrades at public level crossings a year.

Upgrading protection at a crossing might mean installing flashing lights and bells at a crossing with "Stop" or "Give Way" signs or it may mean installing barrier arms at a crossing that already has lights and bells.

Objective Criteria

KiwiRail operates a priority list that determines which level crossings are to receive upgraded protection.  The appropriate level of protection at level crossings is determined using the Australian Level Crossing Assessment Model (ALCAM) to evaluate the risk, and also includes the following factors.

  • train, pedestrian and traffic charactertistics;
  • engineering experience (both rail and road)
  • local knowledge of driver or pedestrian behaviour;
  • social and economic assessment; and
  • standards and international best practice.
Applying ALCAM and taking into consideration the above factors ensures the system is fair across the KiwiRail network.  Those level crossings identified by ALCAM as high risk, or requiring improvement under KiwiRail's engineering guidelines, are upgraded first.

Protection upgrades are sometimes necessary because local roading projects, or a new public development may see significant increases in road or rail traffic over a level crossing.  Any new crossings will require an ALCAM evaluation to assess any new risks.

Costs of upgrades

Typical costs of installing automatic alarm systems for level crossings are:
  • Flashing lights and bell alarms = $120,000 + GST
  • Half arm barriers plus flashing light and bell alarms = $200,000 + GST 
  • Road overbridge to replace level crossing = $5 million or more
The cost of installing alarms may be significantly higher where there are nearby road intersections or where more than one railway track needs to be crossed.

Who pays for upgrades

The costs of installing and maintaining alarm systems at level crossings are generally shared 50:50 between KiwiRail and the Road Controlling Authority or NZ Transport Agency.

KiwiRail does not contribute towards funding of protection upgrades that become necessary because of roading projects or new developments outside the rail network.

Upgrade programme

In the 2016 financial year KiwiRail upgraded the following crossings:       

  • Aylesbury Road, Rolleston (half arm barriers)
  • SH49, Tangiwai (half arm barriers)
  • Northpark Road, Ashburton (half arm barriers)
  • Morningside Drive (additional flashing lights for pedestrians)
  • SH69, Oweka (half arm barriers)
  • Collins Avenue, Tawa (voice message system, another train approaching)       
The following crossings are due to be upgraded in the 2017 financial year:

  • Rukuhia Road (half arm barriers)
  • Caverhill Road, flashing lights and bells)
  • Naenae pedestrian crossing (automatic gates)
  • Ferry Road (half arm barriers)
  • Lethbridge Street (half arm barriers)
  • Roberts Line (half arm barriers)
  • Longlands Road (half arm barriers)
  • Stoney Creek Road (half arm barriers)
  • SH1 Chertsey (half arm barriers)
  • SH2 Tahoraiti Road (half arm barriers)
  • SH1 Winchester (half arm barriers)
  • SH26 Piako Road (half arm barriers)
Level Crossing Working Group

The Level Crossing Work Group was established in 1999 and is convened by the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA). It meets annually and is made up of representatives from: 
  • KiwiRail
  • Federation of Rail Organisations of New Zealand (heritage and tourist operators)
  • Road controlling authorities (RCA Forum)
  • Ministry of Transport, and
  • NZ Transport Agency

The Level Crossing Working Group focuses on the engineering aspects of level crossing safety and the unique challenges that the road-rail interface presents.

This includes reviewing overseas practices, new safety products and the design standards that under which New Zealand operates.

The group was heavily involved in the development of the NZTA guidelines for level crossing management in 2008 (Traffic Control Devices Manual - Part 9).

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