Dora Creek and Wyee Railway Stations Easy Access

3rd June 2015

Mr GREG PIPER (Lake Macquarie) [12.02 p.m.]: I bring to the attention of members of the House and the new Minister for Transport issues relating to poor accessibility at Dora Creek and Wyee railway stations in my electorate. Accessibility has been the subject of past requests by me to the former Minister for Transport and was aired in this House in a question without notice on 7 August last year. Wyee is a busy commuter station. According to information in the "Train Statistics 2014" publication, it has approximately 700 passenger movements on an average weekday. The station is used by many commuters travelling to work but also by many older patrons and people with mobility impairment, despite its incumbent difficulties.

Wyee has a central platform which can be accessed by a pedestrian bridge traversing the rail lines. One must use the overhead bridge to access the platform to catch a train in either direction. Unfortunately, many older patrons have great difficulty navigating the steep stairs. The task is impossible for people in wheelchairs or with significant mobility problems. The difficulties with access to Wyee station have been the subject of many complaints to my office. People have pointed out the danger and inconvenience posed by the unsatisfactory facilities. One of those complaints, which I forwarded to the former Minister for Transport, was from the family of an 80-year-old Melbourne man who was seriously injured in 2013 after suffering a fall on the Wyee railway station steps while visiting the area with his wife.

The man suffered multiple facial fractures and spent a month in hospital. He also sustained a suspected neck injury so he was unable to sit upright. Lying down for a prolonged period caused him to develop pneumonia and he subsequently suffered a heart attack. All of his ailments manifested from a fall on the stairs. The man's daughter said that when paramedics arrived to treat her father, they had no way of stretchering him down the steep railway steps and instead had to support him on their shoulders as he walked down to the ambulance.

This man was not the first person to be injured negotiating the Wyee railway station stairs and, sadly, he is unlikely to be the last unless something is done urgently. Access to the platform is clearly inadequate and far below the reasonable community expectation for 2015. If people visit the Sydney Trains website they can find out what amenities are available at individual stations. On the Wyee station page they will see a lot of red crosses and few green ticks next to the facilities listed under the headings "Getting around the station" and "Accessibility". There is no escalator, lift or ramp, no toilet with wheelchair access and no car park or public phone. Ironically, the station does have a portable boarding ramp, but I am not sure how anyone needing it would access the platform to use it.

Similar access problems exist at Dora Creek station, which is a few stops further north. Dora Creek station services many elderly patrons so accessibility is a significant issue. The absence of a ramp onto the northbound platform makes access for wheelchair users or mobility-impaired passengers virtually impossible because they can only reach the platform via the stairs. There is a ramp on the southbound platform, but access to it is problematic as well because there is no safe road crossing to the station from the business and residential area opposite. Alternative access from the road underneath the nearby rail bridge is, again, via a stairway, so it is unsuitable for people in wheelchairs or people who have difficulty walking. Dora Creek station also has prompted a number of representations to my office. Among them was a plea to upgrade its accessibility from the Westlakes branch of the Retired Mineworkers Association on behalf of its members who use the station.

Last year the former Minister for Transport wrote to me in reply to my representations about problems with access to Wyee and Dora Creek stations. She indicated both stations would be considered for upgrades as part of the Government's Transport Access Program, which is a four-year, $770 million program announced in 2012. I commend the Government for that program. Minister Berejiklian reiterated the situation in her response to my question without notice on the same subject on 7 August last year. At the time of her response, upgrades had been completed at 24 stations under the program and upgrades were underway at another 18, but only one station—Cardiff—was in the Lake Macquarie local government area. At the time it was not in my electorate, but it now is following the boundary redistribution. It is time that more money from the Transport Access Program was directed to stations in southern Lake Macquarie. I ask the Minister for Transport to give favourable consideration to funding accessibility upgrades at both Wyee and Dora Creek in the near future.

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