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Sydney Uni questions Redfern accessibility

The new station crossing proposed for the Southern concourse at Redfern. Photo: Supplied.

By ALLISON HORE

The University of Sydney has formally objected to Transport for NSW’s proposal for the new Southern Concourse at Redfern station. In a submission to the Department of Planning, Industry and the Environment, University of Sydney vice chancellor Michael Spence lodged objection to the proposal based on concerns about pedestrian safety on Little Eveleigh Street and the gated pedestrian bridges which would be at either end of the concourse.

“The bridge, as currently designed, is to be gated at each end, meaning the people crossing from one precinct to the other and not using the station will have to go through gates and a ticketing process,” he said.

“We seek open access to the bridge for pedestrians, as a key facilitator of connection and collaboration between the University, Cicada and South Eveleigh and the future Waterloo Metro station.” 

The $100 million upgrades to Redfern station are part of the Transport Access Program which aims to provide greater accessibility to people with limited mobility, wheelchair users and people with prams and luggage. Currently only platforms six and seven of the station are accessible by lift, with all other platforms only accessed by a single stairway at the northern end of the platform.

The plans for the Southern Concourse, announced in May, include a six-metre wide walkway linking the east and west sides of the station and new lifts and stairs for platforms one to ten. In announcing the upgrades, Transport Minister Andrew Constance said the improvements would allow all customers, including those with limited mobility, to safely and easily access the station. 

“Station entries on Little Eveleigh and Marian Streets will make it easier for customers to get from platforms to streets and shared zones,” he said.

But some, including the University of Sydney, have suggested the current proposal does not sufficiently meet accessibility goals. Under the proposal, the pedestrian bridge would be accessible through ticketed gates which would be closed between 1:45 and 3:45 am when the station is not open. Residents also worry that the proposed entrances would funnel thousands of commuters onto Little Eveleigh and Marian streets and increase congestion on the narrow footpaths.

Action for Public Transport (NSW), a transport advocacy group which has been active in Sydney since 1974, also raised concerns about the ticketed gates being the only way to enter the concourse and cross the railway tracks between Little Eveleigh Street and Marian Street. They lodged a submission in approval of the proposal provided an Opal Card or another form of ticket would not be required to use the walkway.

Transport for NSW is now in the process of formalising a response to the community submissions and will address the issues and concerns raised in a report. The report and its supporting documentation as well as any proposed changes will then be made available to the public. 

Should the proposal be accepted, construction will start at the end of this year and is expected to be completed in mid-2022.

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