Arthur D. LittleArthur D. Little

Publications / Case Studies

Support a major European rail company with its technical level crossing strategy

Independent Risk Assessment of a new railway level crossing technology


A major European railway company piloted a new level crossing technology at various locations to reduce pedestrian risk and to cut the cost. However, a number of right-side failures regarding the technology had led to serious service disruption and the need for degraded working. This generated concerns that the safety benefits of the technology may be offset by the safety dis-benefits associated with network disruption. Therefore, the rail company commissioned Arthur D. Little to inform their overall technical strategy as to whether to provide the new technology for all crossings. The key challenges were to complete a risk assessment and develop a tool for the rail company to perform site-by-site risk assessment at all these crossings.


The approach involved a combination of site work, risk modelling and data analysis. We initially visited a selection of level crossings to understand the operation which could affect risk on site. We collected site specific and risk data (e.g. crossing census, degraded state frequency) to support the risk assessment and then developed a probabilistic risk model for calculating the risk benefits of the technology. We quantified and considered the dis-benefits related to the increased risk for the degraded state. Finally, we developed an easy-to-use risk assessment tool and guidance for using in the future.


The guidance and risk assessment tool not only enabled the railway company to better assess risk at crossings, which potentially will have the new technology installed; but also allowed an informed decision regarding the technology. The highest benchmark safety level for these crossings has been demonstrated and is now supported by rail regulators.

previous article | next article