LC17B: Investigating the use of train horns at rail level crossings

In Australia, changes in the road and rail environment (traffic volume, noise) around the use of train horns, and in road user distraction (pedestrians/cyclists with headsets, motorists in soundproofed vehicles) raise questions of whether train horns are as beneficial as they once were. This is in terms of safety for all types of level crossings in every type of environment and for all road users.

This project constitutes Stage 2 of the project LC17: Investigating the use of train horns at rail level crossings. The research conducted by ACRI project LC17 Stage 1 has provided a broad picture of the use of train horns in Australia and unique insights on the decision-making processes used by train drivers during train horn use. The previous project has also shown that it is important to consider the issues around the use of train horns more broadly.

This extension of the LC17 research program aimed to provide rail transport operators evidence for the effects of train horns – as practised in Australasia – on road user perception and behaviour. Stage 2 found that high-loudness train horns improved drivers’ behaviour performance in approaching level crossings, including shortening drivers’ brake reaction time, decreasing drivers’ approach speeds, and increasing drivers’ maximum deceleration rate. While train horns impacted driver behaviours, the majority of drivers’ (>80%) had detected the trains approaching level crossings before they heard train horns.

Funding / Grants

  • Australasian Centre for Rail Innovation (2020 - 2022)