By ALLISON HORE
After years of community campaigning, details have been released about accessibility upgrades for two stations in Sydney’s Inner West. As part of the Transport Access Scheme, Transport for NSW have started planning much needed accessibility upgrades at Erskineville and St Peters stations.
The proposed upgrades at St Peters and Erskineville stations will include the installation of new lifts, canopies over station platforms for wet weather protection, accessible toilets and upgrades to pedestrian pathways in and around the stations. At Erskineville, a new southern entrance to the station will be constructed on Bridge Street.
Member for Newtown, Jenny Leong, has been a strong advocate for increasing station accessibility in the Inner West. She highlighted St Peters and Erskineville stations as two in need of critical upgrades.
“Our community needs public transport that is accessible to everybody,” said Ms. Leong.
“Parents with prams, people in wheelchairs, older people and anyone with a mobility issue shouldn’t have to struggle to get to work or the shops, visit friends or travel to medical appointments.”
NSW lagging on accessibility targets
By the end of 2017, every state was meant to ensure that 90 percent of stations in their train networks met accessibility standards. However in 2019, just 169 of the 307 stations in the Sydney trains network were advertised as wheelchair accessible.
This means NSW still has a long way to go to meet the target of the 100 percent station accessibility by 2022.
Within the suburban network, train stations in Sydney’s Inner West are especially inaccessible. Redfern, Erskineville, Macdonaldtown, Stanmore, Petersham, Lewisham, St Peters, Dulwich Hill, Hurlstone Park and Canterbury stations all have limited or no wheelchair accessibility.
The community has been calling upgrades to station accessibility in the area for years.
In 2015, residents group, Friends of Erskineville, created a petition calling for lifts to be installed at Erskineville station after a letter they sent to the Berejikilian government in 2014 received no reply.
They celebrated the announced upgrades saying “at long last” the transport body has listened to the community. However, they questioned why the wait time for upgrades would be so long while stations which have a smaller patronage were upgraded sooner.
“How did Hawkesbury River Station get pushed to the front of the queue? This station in the Environment Minister’s seat has already got its upgrade completed,” Friends of Erskineville asked.
“Meanwhile in Erskineville, where we have higher patronage in a single day than Hawkesbury gets in a whole week, we are expected to wait another two years for lifts.”
Sydney’s Lord Mayor Clover Moore welcomed the announced upgrades.
“Erskineville and St Peters are vital transit hubs in our City, and upgraded stations – accessible for people with reduced mobility and people with prams – are so important,” she said.
The St Peters and Erskineville station upgrades are expected to be completed in 2023. Transport for NSW is currently seeking feedback on the proposed plans.