Levelx.info is a service which will give you alerts by website, Twitter and smartphone app which will tell you when the level crossing gates are due to close - before you set off on your journey. Here's the iPhone app :
For the Android app you can also switch to an alternative view with clock hands. Which do you prefer ?
Behind the scenes we are using data feeds from Network Rail, and also a camera giving the exact closing times of the gates. Combining these two information sources enables us to build a history of how trains run, and an accurate prediction of future closing times - including those from delayed trains and freight trains, which you can't find out from passenger timetables.
How good is it ? In short, it's very good but not perfect. The accuracy of our predictions improves the nearer they are to the actual event. We get the full day's schedule from Network Rail early in the morning, so most train times for the full day are just a plan - and many things can happen to stop a train running exactly to its plan. We're aiming to get the great majority of predicted times for a 10 minute time window accurate to the nearest minute.
In more local terms, local stopping trains sometimes leave Newbury late or arrive early at Thatcham. So depending on when you looked at the app, there isn't time for the delayed train to show up before you are at the level crossing expecting it to be clear.
Predicted closures. This chart shows the percentage of actual trains and so closures which were predicted each day between 6am and midnight. Typically, over 120 trains pass each weekday (Sundays when no trains pass are shown as zeros)
Closure accuracy. This chart shows the percentage of predicted closures looking 10 minutes ahead which were correct to within 1 minute. So at 10.50 if you saw a predicted closure for 11.00, how likely it is that the gates will be closed between 1059 and 1101. Performance accuracy is heavily influenced by the timeliness of trains which start at Newbury, because these journeys are very short.