Challenging complacency at Level Crossings


The idea: Dangerous Ground

Network Rail has an ambition to change behaviour at level crossings and eradicate all accidents by 2020. Research showed that the majority of incidents at level crossings involve people living within a five-mile radius; when crossing, people are time pressured and impatient; the behaviour is habitual and they don’t perceive danger.

Our insights led to the identification of 21 at-risk audience groups including pedestrians, young people, dog walkers, cyclists and farmworkers. Challenged to shake user’s complacency and to provide guidance on safe behaviour, the solution was to focus on level crossings as dangerous places when not used correctly, as opposed to being inherently dangerous. “Dangerous Ground” focussed on the crossing, not the train, and the creative executions dialled up the ever present danger.









Shifting the dog-walker's mindset

This campaign delivered a simple message ‘Keep your dog on a lead at level crossings’.

However, we delivered this message creatively using the insight that no matter how well trained you think your dog is, it is after all still a dog and will respond to its environment and its instincts. We brought a dog’s point of view to life with exaggerated typographic expressions of what it might be distracted by, demonstrating the dangers of letting it off its lead near a level crossing.

The campaign was amplified socially and digitally, and we worked with a number of relevant partners to extend our targeted messaging to the right audience including dog influencers, veterinary charities, pet food manufacturers and pet shops.

Getting young people to ignore distractions


This campaign was aimed 11-18 year olds who get distracted at level crossings by phones, music or friends. They are likely to be habitual users, rushing to school, home or to meet their friends, whilst simultaneously using social media, messaging or gaming apps; meaning concentration is low and risk is high.

We worked with a variety of youth and parenting partners who have a direct and trusted relationship with this audience, making use of their digital channels to share our campaign message.

Shaking up student complacency 

To invoke a change in young people’s behaviour, we needed to use the voice of their peers rather than Network Rail.

We worked in collaboration with the largest student TV network – SubTV – to create a TV programme with established vlogger and presenter, Ivan Berry. ‘You Couldn’t Make It Up’ shared our safety message in the right place and in the right way for students. The program used real footage of near misses and highlighted the shocking behaviour of some students at level crossings. The content was delivered in an irreverent and engaging way, co-hosted by a young man who was victim of his own behaviour on the railway.

The show was seen by over 1.8 million students across 80 universities.

Cut-down edits and key bits of content from the final programme were also used to drive engagement.

Creating true accessibility in partnership with Signly

The focus for this campaign was users with hearing, sight and mobility impairment who may face additional challenges when using a level crossing. To target this traditionally hard to reach audience group, we worked with the organisation Signly to deliver campaign assets which were British Sign Language (BSL) enabled, advising people of the correct behaviour to adopt near level crossings and providing contacts for additional information if desired.

We also worked with a number of national charities to amplify our campaign message and distribute our accessible Level Crossings User Guide to our target audience.

As a result of the success of the Signly use, further campaigns also now feature BSL-enabled material.

Keeping heads clear on a night out

This campaign was aimed at people whose judgement is impaired at level crossings from drinking alcohol and launched at Christmas, a time of the year where pub and club visits are particularly prevalent.

The campaign told people to ‘Keep a clear head at level crossings’ and this message was delivered through contextually relevant materials displayed in pubs, clubs and local restaurants as well as on station platforms and concourses in display media. We needed to disrupt and engage our audience at a point when the message would still stick, so we worked in partnership with alcohol and pub industry trade bodies to rally their communities in helping us.

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To support a localised and targeted roll-out, all our work is distributed by a highly motivated team of local Level Crossing Safety Managers on the ground throughout the UK. We produce toolkits and manage an online resource hub to ensure consistency, usability and ease of implementation.


Since the campaign went live Network Rail have seen the longest period without an incident and over 60% of Level Crossing Managers have observed positive behaviour changes.


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Apart from our work on Level Crossings we’ve also been helping Network Rail with making electrification safer for multiple audiences. You can see our award-winning campaign case study here.