The West Australian exclusive

Every single level crossing in WA to have a stop sign, flashing lights or boom gates through $11.68m overhaul

Headshot of Cally Dupe
Cally DupeCountryman
A stop sign at a level crossing.
Camera IconA stop sign at a level crossing. Credit: Cally Dupe/Countryman

Every level crossing in WA will have a stop sign or active controls — including flashing lights or boom gates — installed in coming years under an $11.78 million overhaul unveiled by WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti.

A total 87 passive level crossings will be upgraded through the works program, 86 of which are in regional WA.

The move comes after a major review into the safety of passive level crossings in WA initiated by the State Government and Main Roads in 2021, which assessed every such crossing on public roads.

The review was finalised in December, but Main Roads has spent the past five months analysing the data.

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Ms Saffioti said the upgrades would be undertaken “as quickly as possible”, with most of the current give way signs replaced by mid-2024.

Upgrading the 13 level crossings with active controls will be completed through a five year capital works program from 2024-2029.

“Our Government is committed to improving rail safety in this State,” Ms Saffioti said.

“The recommendations mean there will no longer be any level crossing on a public road in WA that is controlled by a give way sign.

“The upgrades of the 13 level crossings to either flashing lights or boom gates means more than half of the level crossings on public roads in WA will have active controls.

“This is one of the highest proportions of any State or Territory in the country.”

Of the 87 marked for upgrades, the lion’s share (74) will have give way signs replaced with stop signs, at a cost of $370,000.

Seven will have give way controlled crossings upgraded to active flashing-light controls, at a cost of $6.16m.

Six will have stop signs replaced with active flashing light controls, at a cost of $5.28m.

Nearly all the passive level crossings marked for upgrades (87) are in the Wheatbelt, while two are in the Goldfields-Esperance region, two in the Great Southern, one in the Mid West, and one in Perth.

Ms Saffioti said of the 960 public road level crossings on operational rail lines in WA, about half were fitted with active level crossing controls, including flashing lights or boom gates.

The remaining 491 are fitted with passive controls, 405 of which have stop signs, and 87 of which have give way signs.

Through the review, Main Roads visited and undertook detailed site assessments at all 491 passive level crossings in WA, in line with the Australian Level Crossing Assessment Model, which collates site, train and vehicle information.

Ms Saffioti said each level crossing was assessed uniformly using a standardised procedure to gather and interpret data, and the model was then used to identify key safety risks and produce a unique risk score for each crossing.

The investment is expected to be welcomed by a vocal group of 12 families of national campaigners made up of people whose family members or loved ones have been killed by trains at level crossings.

Among the group are four WA families — the Dempsters, Broads, Smiths, and Jensens.

However, questions have previously been raised about whether signs should be removed from non-operational lines — including the mothballed Tier 3 grain lines — to avoid causing motorists confusion.

Once works are complete, more than half of all public road level crossings in WA will be controlled by flashing lights or boom gates.

There will be no changes to the existing 469 actively controlled level crossings.

The announcement comes just weeks after Ms Saffioti was quizzed on the review time frame in State Parliament, with Central Wheatbelt MLA Mia Davies asking when the final report would be handed down.

In Parliament, she said the State Government had been “leading the nation in relation to improving the safety of rail crossings”.

“I will continue to advocate to improve safety,” she said.

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