Level crossings – What we think | The Ramblers

Our views on level crossing closures in England and Wales.

Rights of way across the countryside often intersect with railway lines. There are roughly 7,500 level crossings across England and Wales that allow us to continue our walks across railway lines unimpeded.  

The Ramblers are statutory consultees for any proposed path closures. This means that any authority who wants to close or divert a path, must first speak to the Ramblers. Volunteers across the country check proposals and consider diversions based on the path network as a whole and the needs of walkers.  

In recent years there have been growing efforts by rail companies to close level crossings on the grounds of safety.  This pushes walkers onto diversions that can be long or dangerous on busy roads.  We believe that the closure of paths over level crossings should be a matter of last resort, when is no other way of improving safety.  


What we have achieved so far 

In 2017, Network Rail proposed the closures of hundreds of level crossings across East Anglia. Their use of the Transport and Works Act 1992 to close them all at the same time was unprecedented. Ramblers’ volunteers were consulted, and we engaged our legal team to fight the proposal. We saved many of the crossings that are most vital to the local areas.  


What we want to see in the future 

We support proposals to make level crossings as safe as possible through education and improvements to crossings. Upgrades include better sightlines, gates, warning lights and alarms. 

Where it is not possible to improve safety at level crossings, alternative routes must be: 

  • Safer than the original route across the crossing. For example, walkers shouldn’t be diverted onto the side of a busy road.  

  • As close to the original crossing as possible. 

  • As accessible as the original path. Diversions shouldn’t include steep hills, or steps, if they weren’t part of the original path. A diversion should work for all users of the original route.  


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