With 1693 kilometres of relatively new railway tracks in the Northern Territory and approximately 80 trains per week travelling along them, understanding the various crossings is an essential road safety requirement.
There are now 218 railway crossings throughout the Territory only 38 of which are controlled by lights and bells.
The remaining 180 crossings are marked by a sign post only and rely on road users coming to a complete stop before proceeding to cross.
Trains in the Territory are travelling vast distances, at various speeds, over a long period of time with few stops. It is therefore not unusual for there to be significant differences in the schedules and a train expected to cross a section of road at 1pm on one day, may well cross at 1.20pm the next.
Some freight trains travelling throughout the Territory can weigh up to 7000 tonnes and take over 2 kilometres to stop. It is not an option for a train to stop at a crossing because a road user failed to do so. A train cannot take evasive action.
Train drivers are reporting numerous near misses every week where cars are deliberately trying to ‘beat the train’ for the sake of saving a few minutes delay.
Red lights mean stop; boom gates closing means train approaching. Crossings marked by a signpost alone means the driver must come to a complete stop, check both ways for oncoming trains and proceed only if it is safe to do so.