Beyond the crossing: a cognitive work analysis of rail level crossing systems

Paul M. Salmon, Michael G. Lenne, Gemma J.M. Read, Christine M. Mulvihill, Miranda Cornelissen, Kristie L. Young, Guy H. Walker, Neville A. Stanton, Nicholas Stevens

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearch

5 Citations (Scopus)


Progress is not being made on the longstanding problem of collisions between people and trains at rail level crossings. It has been suggested that this may be, in part, due to a lack of systems thinking during design, crash analysis, and countermeasure development. This paper presents a systems analysis of current rail level crossing systems in Australia that was undertaken specifically to identify safety-related issues in rail level crossing environments. Cognitive work analysis was used to analyze current rail level crossing systems based on data derived from a range of focused data collection activities. The analysis identified various issues potentially impacting behavior and safety across the different users of rail level crossings. In addition, potential areas for improvement through redesign were highlighted. An important implication of the study is that improvements in behavior and safety may be achievable through changes to the overall rail level crossing system (e.g. values, goals, norms, data systems) as opposed to changes to the physical rail level crossing infrastructure only. The implications for future rail level crossing design activities are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProcedia Manufacturing
Subtitle of host publication6th International Conference on Applied Human Factors and Ergonomics (AHFE 2015) and the Affiliated Conferences, AHFE 2015
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2015
EventInternational Conference on Applied Human Factors and Ergonomics 2015 - Las Vegas NV USA, Las Vegas, United States of America
Duration: 26 Jul 201530 Jul 2015
Conference number: 6th

Publication series

NameProcedia Manufacturing
ISSN (Print)2351-9789


ConferenceInternational Conference on Applied Human Factors and Ergonomics 2015
Abbreviated titleAHFE 2015
Country/TerritoryUnited States of America
CityLas Vegas
Internet address


  • Situation awareness
  • Road intersections
  • Design
  • Cognitive work analysis
  • Event analysis of systemic teamwork
  • Schema theory

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