Never try to outrace a train to a crossing. Trains need a very long distance to come to a stop. Always yield to them. Railway crossings are marked with signs. They can also have mechanical or electrical warning devices.

Advance warning signs

These signs tell you to look, listen and reduce speed because you may have to stop for a train. The speed sign below the advance warning sign is the recommended speed for the railroad crossing. It will be less than the posted speed for the road.

Railway crossing ahead, speed limit 30 km/hr
Railway crossing ahead, speed limit 30 km/hr

Pavement markings

Pavement markings, such as an X and/or stop line, may be marked on the pavement at the approach to some railway crossings. If you must stop for a train, do it before the stop line.

Railway crossing ahead
Railway crossing ahead

Railway crossing signs

These signs are found at all public railway crossings. A railway crossing sign means drivers must yield to all trains. If there is more than one railway track, the crossing sign will show the number of tracks. You must stop when a train is visible or sounding a signal and approaching within 500 metres (about 5 city blocks) of the crossing.

Railway crossing sign
Railway crossing sign

Railway crossing signs with a stop sign

A stop sign at a railway crossing requires the driver to come to a complete stop between five metres (15 feet) and 15 metres (50 feet) from the nearest rail. Do not proceed until you are sure a train is not approaching.

Railway crossing sign with a stop sign
Railway crossing sign with a stop sign

Flashing red light signals and bell

Red light signals are used with railway signs at many rail crossings. Stop when the lights begin to flash and the bells ring because a train is approaching. The driver of the vehicle nearest the crossing must stop at least 5 metres back from the nearest rail. Do not proceed until the lights and bells have stopped, and the train has passed or has come to a complete stop. If there is more than 1 track, be sure all the tracks are clear before crossing.

Railway crossing with flashing red light signals and bell
Railway crossing with flashing red light signals and bell

Gates (arms), lights and bells

Gates are used with red light signals and bells at some railway crossings. Remain stopped until the gates are raised, the lights stop flashing and the bells stop ringing.

Railway crossing with gates (arms), lights and bells
Railway crossing with gates (arms), lights and bells

Follow these safety tips whenever you are driving near railway tracks:

  • Do not get trapped on the railway tracks at a railway crossing. Wait on the approach to the crossing and cross only when you are sure you can clear the crossing.
  • When the last car of a train passes the crossing, make sure that another train is not coming before you move ahead. A second train can come on another track from a different direction. You may not be able to hear the second train because of the noise of the first one.
  • Never drive around the gates. If the gate is down, or raising or lowering, do not cross the tracks.
  • If your vehicle has a standard (manual) transmission, do not change gears while crossing the tracks. If you cannot complete the shift, your vehicle could be stalled on the tracks.
  • If your vehicle stalls on a railway crossing, get everyone out of the vehicle and away from the track immediately. If a train is coming move well away from your vehicle and away from the tracks. If possible, go in the direction where the train is approaching. This will prevent you from being hit with flying debris if the train hits the stalled vehicle.
  • During poor weather or at night, be alert for advance railway warning and railway signs. Drive at a speed that will allow you to be able to stop within the distance clearly lit by your headlights.

Remember, it may take a kilometre or more for a train to stop, even under full emergency braking. The safety of you and your passengers depends entirely on you, the driver.

  • Sharing the Road
  • Railway crossings