Can road user delays at urban railway level crossings be reduced? Evaluation of potential treatments through traffic simulation

Grégoire S. Larue, Marc Miska, Gongbin Qian, Christian Wullems, David Rodwell, Edward Chung, Andry Rakotonirainy

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Railway level crossing closures can disrupt traffic flow significantly, especially in peak hours. The current increases in road and rail traffic worsen the situation and can result in congestion known to significantly increase road users’ travel times. In this study, seven of the most problematic level crossings around Brisbane, Australia, were surveyed. The effectiveness of a set of treatments was tested and discussed using computer simulation models. The study found that the variability of warning times is the major cause of unnecessary boom gate downtime. Our observations showed that warning times could be reduced by 10–40 s on average for each crossing activation at the investigated sites. A major cause for the variability in warning times are trains stopping at stations that are not equipped with express train identification, and actual train speeds being lower than posted line speeds. Various tested treatments were found to be effective at reducing level crossing closure duration and reducing the variability in warning times, resulting in travel times reducing by 7–57% for road users, depending on the level crossing considered. This study shows the potential for the short to medium-term treatment of congestion issues at active level crossings, which are necessary with the current increased rail and road traffic flows.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)860-869
Number of pages10
JournalCase Studies on Transport Policy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2020


  • Railway level crossing
  • Road traffic congestion
  • Traffic simulation
  • Warning time

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Transportation
  • Urban Studies

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