By ALLISON HORE
Work will begin this month on a new southern concourse at Redfern Station.
The upgrades will give most of the stations’ platforms a much needed boost in accessibility but will still leave some platforms lacking.
Plans for the $100 million Southern Concourse, announced in May, include a six-metre wide walkway over the rail lines linking the east and west sides of the station and new lifts and stairs for platforms one to ten.
In announcing the beginning of work on the upgrade, Minister for Transport Andrew Constance said the new concourse will “significantly improve lift and stair access to the platforms, especially for less mobile commuters.”
“The upgrade will not only mean easier access to the sixth busiest station on the network, but it will also future-proof Redfern Station as the area grows and attracts even more residents, workers and students,” he said.
Station accessibility upgrades will also include new and improved shared zones on Little Eveleigh and Marian Streets and increased bicycle parking. Transport for NSW say the plans will both improve station amenity and aesthetics and reduce the amount of time it takes for commuters to leave platforms.
The upgrades to Sydney’s sixth busiest station come after an 18-month planning and design phase and were funded through the NSW Government’s Transport Access Program, which aims to improve station accessibility across the Sydney Trains network.
Despite federal government legislation requiring all modern train stations across the states to be wheelchair accessible within the next three years, Sydney’s network is far behind. Of the 307 stations across the Sydney Trains network, in 2019 just 169 stations were advertised as wheelchair accessible.
Sydney’s Inner West is especially inaccessible, with Redfern, Macdonaldtown, Stanmore, Petersham, Lewisham, St Peters, Dulwich Hill, Hurlstone Park and Canterbury stations all with limited or no wheelchair accessibility.
No upgrades for underground platforms
Even with $100 million in upgrades parts of Redfern station will have limited accessibility to less mobile commuters. Underground platforms 11 and 12, considered the second most dangerous platforms on the network for people with mobility issues after Town Hall, will not see any upgrades as part of these works.
Platforms 11 and 12 only have one entry way, which raises concerns about how efficiently they can be evacuated in an emergency situation. Being underground, this is a significant concern as should there be a fire in the tunnel the platforms can quickly fill up with smoke.
Responding to community concern about the lack of accessibility to these platforms, Transport for NSW said they “appreciate that station users want access to [the underground platforms] to be improved”. They said they are currently “investigating options” for developing the land to the east of Redfern Station, above the underground T4 Eastern Suburbs and Illawarra Lines, to construct a new entryway.
If access to the underground platforms is improved following the Southern Concourse construction, Redfern station will be fully accessible.
Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes said the accessibility and capacity upgrades would pave the way for broader developments in the Redfern North Eveleigh precinct.
“Nearby Tech Central will become Australia’s answer to Silicon Valley and therefore needs excellent public transport facilities at Central and Redfern stations to reach its full potential,” Mr Stokes said.
“The new Redfern station concourse will make it much easier for everyone who works or lives in Redfern to get to and from the platforms.”
Early preparation work will commence over the holiday period, during a scheduled rail maintenance shut down when trains are not running, with major construction to begin in January 2021. The upgrades are expected to be completed by 2022.