New method to estimate local and system-wide effects of level rail crossings on network traffic flow

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - rail, place - australasia, place - urban, operations - frequency, land use - impacts, policy - congestion


Traffic congestion, Level crossing, Travel time, Delay


This paper makes local and aggregate estimates of the effects of 152 level crossings in the Melbourne metropolitan area, Australia on traffic congestion in the morning peak period (7 am–9 am). A new method, including micro-simulation of a range of rail crossing configurations, is used to inform a network model which makes aggregate estimates of impacts on all traffic.

Relationships between train frequency and percentage change in vehicle travel time and volume were identified. These equations can predict change in travel time/traffic flow caused by rail level crossings based on rail crossing closures and train frequency.

Overall, Melbourne's level crossings result in an average increase in travel time of 16.1% for vehicle traffic on links with a level crossing. However on average a level crossing reduces the volume of vehicles on these links by 5.9% as a result of traffic diversion. These values are higher in middle suburbs where train arrivals and crossing closure times at level crossings are more frequent.

The aggregate effect of all 152 level rail crossings on all traffic in Melbourne is a travel time change from 1.81 to 1.82 min/km (an increase of around 0.3%). The number of congested links in Melbourne increases by 0.9% while the total delay increases by 0.7%. These network wide effects are not large compared to localised effects because road links affected directly by crossings represent a very small part of the overall network. Additionally, network effects also include traffic diversion impacts which will counteract some of the immediate impacts on a localised scale. However, it is significant that the very small element of the system can have even a measurable effect on aggregate traffic congestion.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.


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