There are many similarities between level crossings and moving road bridges across canals and rivers.
In Holland, in the past, all lift bridges were manned.
Some bridges have now been automated. A laser scanner detects the approaching boat and causes the road traffic lights to flash and the barriers to lower. Another scanner then checks the deck for cars and people. If clear, the bridge is lifted and the boat signalled to proceed.
The progress of the boat is monitored with the scanners and, when clear, the bridge closes and the road re-opens.
There is no human surveillance or intervention unless there is a fault. The Dutch do not consider remote manual control through CCTV to be satisfactory or safe.
This technology could be applied to level crossings.
However, to be safe, traffic delays would be greater than with automatic half barriers as the crossing would have to be cleared of road traffic, whilst the train was sufficiently distant to be stopped by signals.
Nevertheless the technology is available if a review of the risk that society can tolerate indicates that crossings need to be safer.
David H. Brown, Strategic Planner, British Waterways, David.Brown@britishwaterw ays.co.uk