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Lift, Off?

Redfern Station continues to fail disability standards, reports train correspondent Max Hall.

Delayed and slow progress on plans to install a single lift at Redfern Station has seen renewed calls for improved disabled access to the entire station.

The Transport Minister, Gladys Berejiklian, announced the installation of the lift on platforms 6 and 7 in January 2014. Berejiklian appears to have re-announced the same project in August before a tender process for its construction began in October.

The commitment to a single lift comes after several years of pressure from community groups. They argue that the lack of accessibility at Redfern is discriminatory as it forces disabled commuters, mothers with prams, and some elderly individuals to travel to Central by bus before boarding a train. With fifty thousand customers a day, Redfern is the largest station in Sydney without full lift access.

While welcoming the current plan as an interim measure, campaigners noted that anything but full accessibility still places greater strain on individuals with limited mobility, by forcing them to switch trains a number of times. “What we need is the Government to commit to a timeframe for a full upgrade,” said Geoff Turnbull, a spokesperson for community group REDWatch.

In 2013, over 800 pages of planning documents obtained by GIPA request from the NSW Government detailed plans for a full upgrade of Redfern station. A preferred option was identified which would have closed the current entrances to the station and provided lift and stair access via a bridge spanning the centre of all existing platforms. These changes would bring the station into compliance with the Disability Discrimination Act and safety standards requiring multiple exits in the event of an emergency.

Turnbull expressed concern that the planned upgrade has been delayed so the Government can explore the possibility of commercial development above the station. It is likely that the redevelopment of the station to include residential premises or businesses would take more than a decade. The station would be without full disabled access for that period.

SRC Disabilities and Carers Officer Sam Brewer suggested that the lack of progress at Redfern Station is indicative of the broader issue of providing equal opportunity for those with a disability. “How can we expect equality for people with disabilities if there aren’t lifts on each platform in one of the most used stations in Sydney? The fact of the matter is you’re segregating human beings from using an area that is a hub for student transport, the closest station to Sydney University.”

The Government, once again, refused to fucking comment on my small time news story. I would like to thank the Academy.