Government not to legislate for level crossings reform

The Law Commission for England and Wales and the Scottish Law Commission have noted the UK Government’s decision not to introduce legislation to implement our 2013 joint Report on Level Crossings.  Instead, administrative changes are proposed that are very much in the spirit of our recommendations.

The UK Minister has acknowledged that our joint Report was an important piece of work that has made a significant and valuable contribution to thinking about level crossings regulation, increasing understanding and encouraging better practice.

We are nevertheless disappointed that legislative reform is not being pursued, and remain on hand to assist in the event that legislation is thought desirable.

Background details of the project

A project on level crossings law reform was recommended by the Department for Transport and commenced in 2008.  It was conducted jointly by the Law Commission and the Scottish Law Commission.

The joint Report of the two Law Commissions was published in 2013, accompanied by a draft Bill.  The recommendations fell into three broad categories: safety of level crossings, closure of level crossings and rights of way.

The Law Commissions recommended that safety at level crossings should be governed in future by the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, which applies to other aspects of railway safety, in place of the Level Crossings Act 1983 and a mixture of private Acts dating back to the building of the railways.

The Commissions also recommended that a more streamlined procedure for closing level crossings should be introduced, set out in the draft Bill.

Thirdly, they recommended that the law on rights of way across railways should be clarified.  For Scotland, it was recommended that the Scottish Ministers should have an order-making power in relation to level crossings to facilitate the exercise of access rights under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003.

About the Law Commissions

The Law Commission for England and Wales and the Scottish Law Commission are non-political independent bodies, set up by Parliament in 1965 to keep all the law of England and Wales and of Scotland under review, and to recommend reform where it is needed.

For more details on the project, visit the Law Commission’s project page, and the Scottish Law Commission’s project page.