Behaviour at railway crossings

ÖBB is implementing numerous measures to improve safety at railway crossings. The number of accidents is steadily decreasing - but every accident is one too many.

Railway crosssing with gate

There are 3,035 railway crossings in the ÖBB network. For even more safety and to prevent dangerous situations for road users in the first place,

  • we are consistently pursuing the goal of further reducing this number,
  • we invest in underpasses and overpasses as well as in traffic light systems with and without barriers, and
  • we rely on cooperation, campaigns and education to raise awareness of correct behaviour.

The most frequent causes of accidents are carelessness and distraction of road users. Habit also makes blind: local residents who cross railway crossings every day are particularly at risk. Changes in the timetable or additional freight trains can have fatal consequences.

You can download our safety advice "Behavior at railroad crossings" as a brochure here:

Caution – Railway crossing (German)

In this video, ÖBB and the Austrian Road Safety Board (KfV- Kuratorium für Verkehrssicherheit) show the dramatic effects of a collision between a train and a car.

  • Transcript of video for reading (translation)

    What happens when a train collides with a car
    videos, text inserts

    Textinsert: ÖBB crash simulation accident at railway crossing - On closed road and railway line with consideration of environmental protection

    A passenger car is parked on a level crossing. A train hits the car. The traction unit pushes the car in front of it for metres. The passenger car is completely destroyed.

What do I do if I'm trapped between gates? (German)

If drivers adhere to traffic rules they can avoid dangerous situations - even at gates. However, if a driver is trapped between closing gates, there's only one thing to do: Accelerate and break through the gate. Barrier booms are designed so even compact cars can break through them. Sometimes the car can even push the gate up. Little scratches or marks on a car are always the better alternative to a total crash with a train.

  • Transcript of video for reading (translation)

    Safe behaviour at railway crossings
    filming, interviews.

    A car is parked between two closed barriers. A train is approaching from the right side. The car driver breaks through the closed barrier  with his passenger car and escapes the danger.

    Interview Franz Seiser, member of the board: On the one hand, many things have already gone wrong when you are trapped between two barriers. No railway crossing comes as a surprise, there are traffic signs, there is a St. Andrew's cross, a barrier and of course you should drive with foresight. Once you are trapped between two barriers, there is only one thing to do, and that is to drive through the barrier. The barrier gives way, breaks and there is only minor damage to the vehicle.

    Interview Martin Lauter, safety engineer: The barrier arms are made of malleable material, in accordance with the legal requirements. Typical materials are aluminium and glass-fibre reinforced plastic. Therefore, there is also no doubt that the barrier bar will break.

    Interview Martin Hoffer, Head of Legal Services ÖAMTC: One should not worry about the costs of a broken barrier, because the costs are covered by the liability insurance. This means that in the worst case, you get into the "malus". The damage is in no relation to the damage you would have had if you had not reacted properly.

    A train at full speed hits a passenger car. The car is dragged along for several hundred metres.