Saturday, 16 February 2013

Disabled Access to Redfern Railway Station required urgently

In May last year my predecessor The Hon. Kristina Keneally presented a petition signed by more than 11,000 people to the parliament seeking the construction of a lift at Redfern Railway Station. 

The petition was the subject of a debate in the Legislative Assembly and the government confirmed its support for disabled access to all stations. It did indicate that two thirds of the railway stations on a 307 station network did not have “easy access”; that is disabled access. The Transport Minister indicated to parliament that the government had funded “easy access” to 35 railway stations last year, Redfern Station was not one of them. 

I recently inspected Redfern Railway Station with Geoff Turnbull from REDwatch, and spoke to the Station Master. Redfern Station is the largest station outside of the Central Railway Station.

Redfern is part of the Urban Growth Development Corporation's plan for urban renewal and development. Arising from a number of Government and Council decisions relating to planning, the pressure on the railway station is increasing, and will continue to increase. 

Not providing disabled access to a Railway Station the size of Redfern at the very time government and councils are seeking to encourage increased public transport usage is quite bizarre. 

What really impresses me about the approach taken by the community in pressing for the construction of a lift is the constructive and modest solution they are proposing. 

In an ideal world a railway station the size of Redfern should be completely redeveloped with disabled access. Opened in 1855, a visit to the station looks like not alot has changed other than some add ons. 

I can just imagine the state bureaucracy saying this is 150 year old station and a brand new one is required with wider platforms and complete disabled and preambular access will accompany the redevelopment. No doubt the bureaucrats submitted this huge buget expense to the government and its predecessor and the Treasury had a fit. As a result the busiest railway station other than Central Station does not have disabled access. 

What the community has proposed is the construction of a lift that could be installed between platforms 11 and 12. Those passengers in need of “easy access” could travel to Central Station, where disabled access is available and transfer to another train. In the circumstances a modest, reasonable and responsible request. 

I have written to the Minister and requested her to reconsider the governments position so that funding can be given immediate priority.

As the request I am making on behalf of the community is so reasonable, constructive, urgent and modest, this is in my view the best way to progress this issue.

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