Level crossings account for approximately half of the train accident risk on the railway in the UK. Sotera has worked in the UK, Europe and Australia, with regulators, industry bodies, research organisations and operators to devise methods to assess risk and develop strategies to manage it.

Managing level crossing risk is particularly complex due to the interfaces that require controlling, including the behaviour of the pedestrians and road users, train operation, level crossing equipment, level crossing keepers and railway signalling. There are also the competing objectives of keeping the crossing open to the road to minimise delays and the preference to close the crossing well in advance of the arrival of a train to ensure that the crossing is clear of users and obstructions before the train can traverse the crossing.

Sotera’s in-depth knowledge of level crossing operation, safety and performance mean that Team Sotera’ is well placed to assist with all level crossing safety issues.

Suitable and sufficient risk assessment

Sotera has worked with Network Rail to undertaking ‘suitable and sufficient’ risk assessments for well over 800 level crossings. The risk assessment reports determine the most appropriate crossing types for installation and the specific control measures required. The reports have gained acceptance from the regulator and involve a thorough examination of a wide range of data sources to assess the risk at each specific location. This includes:

  • Site survey and completion of bespoke site visit protocols
  • Discussions with users and crossing keepers
  • Photographic record of the crossing and approaches
  • Identification of local hazards
  • Quantified risk assessment
  • A traffic census
  • Analysis of incident data
  • Workshop with stakeholders
  • Assessment of options
  • Cost benefit analysis
  • Reporting.

SPAD risk at level crossings

The majority of the risk at level crossing is connected with the behaviour of level crossing users. One element of the risk that is not connected directly with user behaviour is the risk from Signals Passed At Danger, where a signal protect the level crossing.

Sotera has developed a risk assessment tool for the assessment of SPAD risk and a optioneering framework to consider risk reducing options to help ensure risk is reduced to an appropriate level by accounting for the features of the signal, crossing operational and local factors.

The tool is now available to railway group members via the RSSB website (  Access to the tool can be sought via  Please feel free to contact Sotera to discuss the research, tool development and its use.

More details can be found here

Risk model development

An important element to understanding the risk at level crossings is a detailed assessment of the causes and consequences of level crossing incidents, accounting for the crossing type and operation. Sotera has tremendous experience in this area having:

  • Developed a comprehensive risk model of Irish Rail’s level crossings, which provides a detailed risk assessment of each crossing on the railway
  • Worked with the Australian Rail Regulator to develop a model for assessing level crossing risk
  • Peer reviewed the All Level Crossing Risk Model (and other models)
  • Help develop the UK safety risk model for collision risk at level crossings
  • Developed a risk assessment method for the EU SELCAT project (Safer European Level Crossing Appraisal and Technology).

Other level crossing services

Additional services Sotera provides for level crossings are:

  • Safety cases for novel level crossing types and applications
  • Assessment of lower LIDAR requirements for obstacle detector crossings
  • Obstacle detector crossing suitability studies
  • Peer review of safety documentation
  • Assessment and optioneering of SPAD risk at level crossing.

Get in Touch

It is always great to hear from clients, practitioners and people interested in risk modelling and safety and operational performance.

So if you would like a chat over the phone, exchange emails or meet-up over a coffee and cake please get in touch.