Remedy the Accessibility Issues of the South-East Queensland Rail Network

Remedy the Accessibility Issues of the South-East Queensland Rail Network

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Sophie Reid-Singer started this petition to Brisbane City Council and

One of the key messages being brought forward across all levels of Government, is to look toward the end of the tunnel during this COVID-19 crisis. Yet for many members of the community there are still many systemic problems that will not be resolved simply by the end of the crisis. One of the key areas is the inaccessibility of much of the Queensland Rail (QR) network to mobility impaired people, specifically the train stations operated throughout Southeast Queensland by QR.

Currently there are two main issues that have been noted at multiple train stations throughout Southeast Queensland which are:
> Many platforms are prohibitively low, which impacts on the autonomy of mobility impaired commuters; and
> At almost half of all train stations, there is currently no autonomous access, forcing individuals to use alternative means of transport.

Take for example the Fairfield Train Station: if someone is unable to navigate the stairs to access platform 1 they must use platform 2 to travel two stops to Yeerongpilly Train Station, then cross to platform 1 there in order to head in the direction of Ferny Grove. During this transition they may also need a QR Rail employee to assist them on and off the train multiple times. Not only is travel time increased but often valuable energy is exerted. Many instead choose to use alternative transport like Taxis or ride-sharing at their own expense. This is just one example of many Stations that fail to provide adequate accessibility to this public service.  

Commitments we want to remedy accessibility issues:
> Access to trains by elevating sections of platforms to ensure mobility impaired people can enter independently encouraging individual autonomy. This is done already at some stations; and
> Actual autonomous access to ALL train stations across the QR rail network in Southeast Queensland. This means equal access at every train station, for those whose disability isn’t visible to those who utilize mobility aids. This means elevator or ramp access to every platform, no excuses. No compromises.

Autonomy is a critical element of the human experience: one which is taken for granted by many. Throughout the QR network in Southeast Queensland, almost half of all train stations are inaccessible to mobility impaired citizens (as of 2018), which is grossly out of date by modern standards and completely unacceptable. Further, the Disability Discrimination Act 1993 has made it unlawful for public transport providers to discriminate on the ground of disability. The image that QR Rail paints of itself is one where it feels it is exempt from Federal and State Law. Presently half of all stations are not meeting their requirements, and those that do still have a myriad of accessibility issues that infringe on individual autonomy.

There is an opportunity to resolve this issue however, and one which will assist the economy and the government during this trying time. Given that Federal and State Governments have had to reduce the number of commuters on the rail network during the current COVID-19 Pandemic, this would be an ideal time to begin rectifying the many accessibility issues plaguing the QR rail network in Southeast Queensland. This would be ideal firstly: as the reduced number of commuters will mean that stations presently inaccessible can be temporarily shut down to enable any necessary construction needed to bring them up to an acceptable standard. These temporary shutdowns happen all the time regardless, even when there are high levels of commuters. This should be a priority of QR Rail and not a desirable. Secondly: it enables the State Government to employ a number of potentially unemployed people as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, which would at least ensure that there is some economic activity for a sustainable future being conducted during this unprecedented time.

These are not excessive demands, nor are they outside the realm of the achievable. These demands are necessary to improve much needed accessibility of the QR network, and will ensure greater autonomy to mobility impaired individuals that are currently being ignored. 

To help us achieve this goal, we would ask that you sign this petition to show your support. If you have a testimony of your experiences navigating QR Rail with a mobility impairment please email us at reid.72.singer@gmail.com. Testimonies are our strongest device: nothing about us without us. A testimony of our own is provided below:

Sophie Reid-Singer 23 
My name is Sophie and my life is directly impacted by the lack of accessible access to Queensland Rail. There are many instances since moving to Brisbane where I have chosen to stay home rather than try and navigate this service. The greatest challenge I navigate is the stigma QR reinforces with their infrastructure. In 2017 I complained to a contact at QR about an employee that was making me feel uncomfortable by following me down the track every day, asking me if I needed help even when I insisted repeatedly that I was fine boarding the train with my crutches. While this contact was very understanding, the actions of the employee did not change, and after living near the same station for many years, the lack of progress in changing things that would actually help me (like elevating the ground on a section of the platform so I could enter effortlessly, or providing an alternative to the stairs) never actualized. This is nothing in comparison to the humiliation I experience when other commuters think themselves noble when literally lifting me without permission onto the train, then berating me when I express that it was inappropriate. This image of my capacity is reinforced directly by oversights in accessibility. Seeing QR champion their disability arts program on posters in their trains leaves me with an absolute sense of contempt when almost half of their stations aren’t even accessible to many of the disabled. It is simply not good enough. The legislation that is meant to ensure my freedoms is older than I am and yet here I am having to say this isn’t okay. This is a disgrace.  

0 have signed. Let’s get to 500!
At 500 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!