Wyee and Dora Creek Stations Access

21st June 2016

Mr GREG PIPER ( Lake Macquarie ) ( 21:22 :00 ): Wyee and Dora Creek railway stations in my electorate recently received a welcome facelift with painting and other cosmetic improvements, but I inform the House and the Minister for Transport that while this work is appreciated, it is a long way from what is required to bring these two stations into the twenty-first century.

As I have informed the House on previous occasions, these stations have significant accessibility issues which have become the subject of growing concern in the community. Wyee is the busier of the two stations. It has a central platform which can only be accessed by a pedestrian bridge over the rail lines via steep stairs on either side. Access for people in wheelchairs is impossible, and significant difficulties are created for older people and anyone less mobile. I believe these accessibility issues are also deterring people from using public transport. Regular users of the station report that many people have come to grief on the stairs, which are not covered and provide no protection from the rain.

Gary Blaschke lives at nearby Lake Munmorah and has been a strident advocate for those in my electorate and in the region who have disabilities and mobility issues. He works with the Disabled Surfers Association and is heavily involved with the nearby Camp Breakaway for those living with a range of disabilities. He is aware of many people who have had falls or have tripped on and around the two stations. He also knows of many who do not use the stations anymore because they simply are not afforded access to them. Mr Blaschke believes that an at-grade pedestrian crossing could be built to provide easy and level access to the central platform at Wyee from the nearby bus stop and drop-off zone. I do not support such an option because I believe it creates an added danger for anyone using the station. It is true that such a pedestrian crossing exists elsewhere—namely, on the South Coast—but I believe the only option is to install lifts on the eastern and western sides of the existing platform.

I agree with Mr Blaschke's suggestion that seats could be installed at the top of the existing stairs to give elderly or less mobile people a break during the arduous trek to the central platform. Terry Pryor, a Wyee resident and a strong advocate for our community, is another who is fighting for those of us who are less mobile. He agrees that lifts are the only way to solve these ongoing problems at Wyee. Dora Creek station is located two stops north of Wyee. The absence of a ramp onto the northbound platform makes access for wheelchair users or mobility-impaired passengers virtually impossible. There is a ramp on the southbound platform but access is also problematic because there is no safe road crossing to the station from the residential and business area opposite.

There is no doubt in my mind that these issues are having a profound impact on the numbers of people using Wyee and Dora Creek stations. Recent data from Transport for NSW supports that theory. Transport for NSW data shows that passenger journey numbers at Wyee fell from 167,000 in 2001 to just over 106,000 in 2014. Similarly, numbers at Dora Creek fell from almost 18,000 in 2001 to under 12,000 in 2014. More recent data suggests that trend is continuing. That is a drop of more than a third. That drop has occurred while the total number of people using the Newcastle rail line has risen from 1.93 million journeys in 2001 to 2.02 million in 2014. We are told that people are not using these stations for a reason, and I say that is because they simply cannot access them or do not enjoy the experience.

The figures come at a time when government policy is to move people out of cars and onto public transport; they come at a time when our population is ageing—particularly in my electorate—and more people will be forced to rely on public transport. We all heard the Treasurer deliver her Budget Speech in this House earlier today. In general terms, I think it is a sound and responsible budget. But, there was nothing in that budget to fix the issues that I have raised here today, and on several other occasions. The Government's $770 million 2012 Transport Access Program will conclude this year. I commend the Government for that program. I ask the Minister for Transport to renew that program and to fund accessibility upgrades at both Wyee and Dora Creek stations in the near future.

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