Informa Markets

Author Bio ▼

Safety and Health Practitioner (SHP) is first for independent health and safety news.
September 25, 2013

Get the SHP newsletter

Daily health and safety news, job alerts and resources

Level crossing report highlights need for clarity

Changes to the law governing level crossings have been proposed in a report published today (25 September).

The joint report, published by the Law Commission for England and Wales and the Scottish Law Commission, follows a project launched at the request of the Department for Transport and the Office of Rail Regulation.
Published alongside a draft Level Crossings Bill, draft Level Crossing Plans Regulations, an analysis of consultation responses and an economic impact assessment, the report recommends reform of the law aimed at:
€ᄁimproving the safety regime for level crossings by bringing it into line with that of the railway generally, while making such special provision as is necessary;
€ᄁproviding a new procedure to allow for the compulsory closure of level crossings; and
€ᄁclarifying the law relating to rights of way across railways.
At the moment, level crossing safety is governed by the Level Crossings Act 1983, which the Law Commission believes provides for inflexible and unresponsive orders, the legal status of which is uncertain.
The proposed reforms would bring level crossings into the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, with special provision for level crossings plans to be made when necessary.
Currently, there is no bespoke procedure for closing road or private level crossings in England and Wales, and none in Scotland.  The Law Commission believe the proposals would “create a new, speedy but fair system for compulsory closure”.
In a statement, Frances Patterson, QC lead commissioner at the Law Commission said that if the reforms are adopted it will make for a more efficient safety system for level crossings.
She added: “It will also allow Network Rail to go further than they already have in closing as many level crossings as possible, reducing costs on both the railway and road networks.”
Lead commissioner at the Scottish Law Commission, Dr Andrew Steven, said: “Our recommendations provide a new legal framework for level crossings in Great Britain. In relation to Scotland we have sought carefully to draw a balance between the compelling need for safety on railway lines and the rights of the public to have access over land under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 and common law.”
Ian Prosser, director of railway safety at the Office of Rail Regulation said: “Great Britain’s level crossings, although among the safest in Europe, pose a significant rail safety risk to the public. That is why we have announced millions of pounds’ worth of extra funds to close or upgrade level crossings over the next five years, and will work to support implementation of improved level crossing laws.”
The Commisions’ report on level crossings is available at and

Driving for Better Safety - Free eBook download

This eBook will guide you through some of the key understandings you need to be able to manage driver safety effectively and, at the end, provide a series of free resources you can access to help you ensure your own driver safety management system is robust, legally compliant and in line with industry-accepted good practice.

Download this eBook from Driving for Better Business and SHP to cover:

  • Why do we need to manage driver safety?
  • Duty of care – a shared responsibility;
  • Setting the rules with a driving for work policy;
  • Managing driver safety;
  • Ensuring safe vehicles;
  • Safe journeys and fitness to drive;
  • Record keeping;
  • Reporting;
  • The business benefits of good practice;
  • Additional resources

Related Topics

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments