Crossing a level crossing with exceptional transport

If you wish to cross a level crossing, you will of course want to do so safely. As the carrier, you are responsible for determining whether additional measures are required to be able to safely cross the track section. 

Should the track section be extended? Then it must be closed off for rail traffic. You must contact Prorail at least 48 hours in advance: 0031 (0)84-0867880 (toll free). If in doubt: always get in touch! This article describes how you can best cross a (protected) level crossing.

Rules for safely crossing an automatic level crossing where the barriers are automatically operated by an approaching train (in the Netherlands these feature barriers that extend halfway across the road (AHOB)*

If you approach an AHOB and a train approaches, the following standard programme is followed:

  1. The red lights will light and the bell will be rung for 5 seconds.
  2. The following 12 seconds the barriers descend to form a barrier halfway across each side of the road.

The following are a number of rules that should be followed to ensure a safe crossing:

  1. Always first determine whether there is an alternative route without level crossings.
  2. In the case of an exceptional transport always request an exceptional transport permit from the RDW.
  3. Wait until the red light/s are turned off, a second train can always be approaching.
  4. Try to start to cross the level crossing while still moving, not from a standing start.
  5. If the time required for the entire lorry and trailer to cross the last rail is a maximum of 15 seconds, the level crossing can be crossed safely. No train can be present. Take into account factors that could affect the time taken, such as traffic and tight radiuses on the other side of the crossing.
  6. The barriers start to descend after 5 seconds on a standard AHOB. These can come into contact with and damage the truck.
    • A level crossing barrier is constructed in such a way that when the transverse forces are sufficiently high, it will break in a controlled way. In a conflict situation, it is better to break a barrier than to risk a collision with a train. Every motorised vehicle has sufficient power to overcome the resistance offered by the barrier.
  7. A vehicle equipped with steel caterpillar tracks is not allowed to cross a level crossing.
  8. A transport with limited ground clearance (low-loader) can result in a conflict with a dieplader-gevoelige (low-loader sensitive) level crossing (a crossing that poses difficulties for vehicles with a low ground clearance). These special level crossings are present in the digital roadmap for exceptional transport.
  9. If it is not possible to clear the level crossing within 15 seconds (in connection with approaching trains and descending barriers), ProRail must be contacted in a timely fashion allowing ProRail to take measures to make the transport possible. Note that dependent on the measures that must be taken, a certain preparation time is required. It is impossible to interfere with the train service instantaneously.
  10. For level crossings that are not actively protected by a barrier, it is also important that you investigate in advance whether you can clear the crossing within 12 seconds.

The guidelines above also apply to:

  • vehicles that take part in events, parades or processions;
  • work vehicles (cranes, etc.);
  • transport over private level crossings;
  • harbour and industry rails;
  • level crossings that are only protected with lights;
  • level crossings where the train halts before the crossing and can only continue after the crossing has been activated.

Not actively protected level crossing

There are also level crossings on quiet roads that do not have any barriers. The road user has to look around to make sure that a train isn’t approaching. It is strongly advised not to overtake with an exceptional transport on these crossings.

Crossings that are difficult for low-loaders

You can find details of crossings that are difficult for low-loaders on the Digital Exemptions Road Map (DWO):

  1. Open the DWO.
  2. Zoom in on the crossing you are interested in.
  3. Click on ‘level crossing’. The crossings appear on the map as blue dots.
  4. Click with the right mouse button on the crossing and then click on ‘show details’.
  5. In the window that opens, you can find the details about the required ground clearance of the low-loader under ‘level crossing details’. The following details are important:
    - axle distance of low-loader: the number of metres between the centre of the last axle before the low-loader bed and the centre of the first axle after the low-loader bed;
    - the associated required ground clearance: the minimum number of centimetres of free space that must be available between the road surface and the underside of the low-loader bed.

NB: the DWO also displays level crossings that are not difficult for low-loaders but do have LHV (Longer Heavier Vehicles) approval (red traffic light extension).


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