New app to help sign language users cross the railway safely: Everyone Across Safely user guide front sheet

Wednesday 5 Oct 2016

New app to help sign language users cross the railway safely


Network Rail has today (Wednesday 5 October) launched a new smartphone app which will help enable the 1 in 6 deaf people who live in the UK to access a range of information to help them to use level crossings safely. The Signly Network Rail app launch forms part of a new campaign that aims to support people with visual, hearing or mobility impairment, who may face additional challenges when using a level crossing.

Signly Network Rail is the first national roll out of this new technology, which can be downloaded for free on Apple and Google. The app works much like a QR-code where smartphone users can point their device camera over leaflets or posters, but rather than a QR-code it is programmed to recognise an image. The app inserts a smart layer of signed (or spoken/filmed) digital information onto the screen of the user’s own mobile device. They simply open the app, point their device at the Signly- enabled information and a sign language translator appears as if by magic.

Working together with a deaf charity and a specialist communications company, Network Rail will launch the app at the Deaf Info exhibition, part of the Deaf UK 50+ annual holiday, attended by over 400 members of the older deaf community.'

As well as launching Signly, Network Rail has worked together with the Royal Association for Deaf people, Action on Hearing Loss, Scope, the Built Environment Accessibility Panel and The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association to produce an accessible user guide. This offers safety advice and information on audio, visual and tactile cues and also the warnings that are present at some of Britain’s level crossings to help users know when it is safe to cross the tracks. The user guide is available in large print written English, plus BSL through the Signly Network Rail, which also provides an audio description. Alternative formats can also be requested via Network Rail.

Speaking at the Everyone Across Safely campaign launch, where he was demonstrating the new app to members of the deaf community, Allan Spence, Network Rail’s head of public and passenger safety said: “We want Network Rail’s information to be accessible to everyone who uses the railway, whether as a rail passenger, or on a level crossing. This app and information helps more people use level crossings safely.

“Though Britain has one of the safest rail networks in Europe, accidents and near misses with trains still occur. That’s why Network Rail is investing more than £100m as part of our Railway Upgrade Plan to improve level crossing safety across the nation. We hope that this campaign will help everyone who uses the railway to do so safely and with confidence.”

To promote the campaign Network Rail’s level crossing managers will be distributing materials in venues within the local community.  The Royal Association for deaf People will also be working closely with Network Rail to train level crossing managers on how to identify, communicate and support users with hearing impairment.

Dr Jan Sheldon, Chief Executive, Royal Association for Deaf People explains,

“The Royal Association for Deaf people (RAD) has been delighted to work in partnership with Network Rail on this project. We are pleased that Network Rail has considered the needs of the Deaf Community, this has resulted in the development of the Signly’s app to provide an on-the-spot British Sign Language translation.”

To find out more and download / view the user guide, visit

To get in touch with Network Rail for more information and advice about using level crossings, call our National Helpline on 03457 11 41 41 (dial 18001 before the number to activate Type Talk). You can also email us or talk to us via our live help:

Signly Network Rail can be downloaded for free from the App Store and GooglePlay.

- Ends - 

Notes to eds:

Level crossings – basic safety information

Approaching a level crossing:

  • Stay alert for any audio, visual and tactile cues or warnings
  • Use caution and be prepared to stop. If warnings start as you approach, do not proceed

Crossing a level crossing:

  • Please be patient when waiting for a train to pass – there is no set waiting time as train speeds and timetables differ greatly and a second train may be coming
  • Cross as quickly as possible once it is safe to do so, keeping children close and dogs on a lead
  • If a warning activates while you are on a level crossing, stay calm and cross as quickly as possible

Get in touch with Network Rail for more information and advice about using level crossings:

  • Call our National Helpline on 03457 11 41 41 (dial 18001 before the number to activate Type Talk)
  • Email us or talk to us via our live help:

Network Rail is investing £100m into its programme to improve level crossing safety as part of its Railway Upgrade Plan. Since 2010 it has:

  • Employed more than 100 dedicated level crossing managers
  • Closed over 1000 level crossings
  • Replaced some footpath crossings with footbridges
  • Installing warning lights or sirens as an additional safety measure at some footpath crossings
  • Launched a new schools programme – Rail Life – teaching both primary and secondary school children about how to stay safe when crossing the railway
  • Rolled out safety camera enforcement vans in partnership with BTP
  • Invested in new technology such as the obstacle detection radar


Contact information

Passengers / community members
Network Rail national helpline
03457 11 41 41

Latest travel advice
Please visit National Rail Enquiries

Network Rail press office - Lucy Jones
Media relations manager
Network Rail
033 0854 3835 / 07734 649248

About Network Rail

Network Rail owns, manages and develops Britain's railway - the 20,000 miles of track, 40,000 bridges and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations (the largest of which we also run). In partnership with train operators we help people take more than 1.65bn journeys by rail every year and move hundreds of millions of tonnes of freight, saving almost 8m lorry journeys. We employ 38,000 people across Britain and work round-the-clock, each and every day, to provide a safe, reliable railway.

About the Railway Upgrade Plan

The Railway Upgrade Plan is Network Rail's investment plan for Britain's railways. It makes up two-thirds of Network Rail's £40bn spending priorities for the five years to 2019 and represents the biggest sustained programme of rail modernisation since the Victoria era. It is designed to provide more capacity, relieve crowding and respond to the tremendous growth Britain's railways continue to experience; passenger numbers have doubled in the past 20 years and are set to double again over the next 25 years - so we need to continue to invest in building a bigger, better railway. For passengers, that means:

  • longer, faster more frequent trains;
  • better, more reliable infrastructure; and
  • better facilities for passengers, especially at stations.

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