Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian has announced that a long-awaited accessibility lift will be installed at Redfern station in 2015.
Minister Berejiklian promised the upgrade in August of 2013, however until this month there have been few further developments since the announcement.
Community group Redwatch organised a campaign for the increased accessibility of Redfern station in 2012. Redwatch brought together all interested community groups to form a campaign called Lift Redfern.
Lift Redfern presented a petition containing over 11,000 signatures to the NSW Government on August 24, 2012, calling on Minister Berejiklian to improve disabled access to Redfern station.
“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,” the petition read.
“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.”
The following August, the minister announced the Government would work towards installing a lift at the station. This month, she confirmed an approximate timeframe for the project for the first time.
“Plans and designs will be available in the next two months for community feedback and construction is on-track to begin early next year,” she said.
Redwatch spokesperson Geoff Turnbull said the campaigners were pleased there had been movement on the upgrade after such a long period of uncertainty.
“The plans just keep being delayed, either because the Government doesn’t want to pay for it or because of the other developments planned around the area over the next few years,” he said.
After many years of campaigning for the increased accessibility of the station, Lift Redfern decided to narrow their demands and initially push for one lift at Redfern station only, which is what the minister is currently promising.
Mr Turnbull said that because only one lift was being developed at this stage, the community has reservations about considering this month’s announcement a win for Lift Redfern.
“The lift only services the inner west line, so only people travelling on that line can use it. This is a problem, but Lift Redfern is petitioning for this to just be the first step in increased accessibility at the station,” he said.
“This is an interim solution that would at least bring some relief to those needing assistance at Redfern.”
Mr Turnbull said the group had not had direct contact from Minister Berejiklian regarding the future of the project.
Mr Turnbull said the situation faced by Eddie, a wheelchair-bound Lift Redfern campaigner, illustrates the urgent need for a full accessibility upgrade of the station.
“Eddie, a member of the campaign, sold Big Issue every day and travelled from Sydney’s south west but instead of getting off the train at Redfern, he had to get off at Central and travel back to the Big Issue offices next to Redfern station in his wheelchair.”
The NSW Government has begun investigative geotechnical drilling at Redfern station as the first stage of the project.
“I am pleased work is progressing on this important project, with tenders underway to bring a construction company on board so we’re ready to start construction once we receive planning approval,” Ms Berejiklian said.