Redfern Railway Station Lift Access

(4.30pm 23 August 2012, Parliament House Sydney)
My Contribution to the Discussion on Petition Signed by 10,000 or More Persons

The residents of Darlington, Redfern, Waterloo, Chippendale and Alexandria have signed a petition of 10,000 signatures calling on the Government to take overdue action in relation to a lift to allow people access to Redfern station. Redfern station is a major hub of the CityRail network. Every metropolitan railway line other than the airport line passes through Redfern station, making it one of the busiest stations on the network and the second-most important for changing trains. Responses to my 2010 question on notice reveal that the station is the seventh busiest in the CityRail network, with almost 42,000 trips to and from the station each weekday.

The station services the University of Sydney, the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence, the Australian Technology Park, the Carriageworks, the Redfern Community Centre and several Redfern-based community services including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander services. It also serves as an area of major projected residential and business population growth through urban renewal projects. Yet, despite the station's significance, there are no lifts to its platform, making access difficult, if not impossible, for people with disabilities, for older people, for parents of young children, for pregnant women and for people who are less mobile due to illness or injury. People with luggage or carrying large items also find it a challenge.

In the twenty-first century in Sydney, Australia's global city, all major stations should be accessible, and this needs to be urgently addressed. Public transport is essential to reducing traffic congestion, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. People will not use public transport if it is not convenient. If they are unable to do basic things like change platform, instead they will revert to private motor vehicles. And, for people with a mobility problem who do not have cars and rely on trains for transport, it is unfair. I have heard stories of people in wheelchairs having to travel past their station to another, just so that they can access a line that takes them back to their station on the right platform.

With so many train lines using Redfern, the station should be a priority for an accessibility upgrade. If it were fully accessible, it would provide relief to other busy stations. Various Government Ministers have responded to my questions in Parliament, acknowledging that plans are being developed for the upgrade of Redfern station, but they have failed to provide a time line or a start date. A key focus of the 2006 Redfern Waterloo Built Environment Plan was an upgrade for the station, but plans, timetables and funds were never delivered. The community has been promised an upgrade for more than 20 years, under both Coalition and Labor governments. The community does not want this debate to turn into a blame game between the major parties. What the community wants is action. Responses to my calls to the Minister this year indicate that Redfern station is being considered as part of a review for future upgrades. I understand that funds have been allocated to upgrade 35 stations to make them accessible as part of the Transport Access Program. The need for equitable access to Redfern station is urgent. It should be included in the first round of upgrades under the Transport Access Program. I am really pleased the Minister is in the House to speak on this issue today.

The community has launched Lift Redfern, a campaign to get lifts installed at Redfern station as a priority. The campaign is supported by a wide range of resident, business, arts, political and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, community groups, community services and local elected representatives. The petition before the House forms part of this campaign, with teams of volunteers collecting signatures at Redfern station and nearby access points and at other stations on the CityRail network. Lift Redfern suggests that the Government prioritise platforms 11 and 12, on the Eastern Suburbs line, while it commences plans for a full station upgrade. These platforms were built in the 1970s; they are completely underground and separate to other platforms. They have lift possibilities and would be easily upgraded separately to the rest of the station. The City of Sydney has endorsed the Lift Redfern campaign; and tonight, together with the Lift Redfern campaign, I call on the Government to immediately upgrade the Redfern station with lifts, starting with platforms 11 and 12, so that everyone can equitably use this busy and important inner-city station. I want to finish by paying tribute to all those who have organised this petition. I hope that its aims will come to fruition.

Click HERE to read discussion on NSW Parliament website.