Jackie Trad refuses to spend $1.4 billion to make NGR trains accessible in Queensland
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More than 357,000 Australians are blind or have low vision and this number is only expected to increase as our population ages and lives longer – of whom, 70,000 reside in Queensland according to Vision Australia.
My name is Brendon Donohue and I am an independent Train traveller of my community in South Brisbane. I am a very active member attending community events, shopping, volunteering and working. To undertake all that I do, I catch Trains. One of the choices why I chose my location to live was because of how Accessible the Trains were in Queensland.
In 2013 the Newman government Department of Transport and Main Roads awarded a tender for NGR. The 75 newly designed trains are due to begin service on the South-East Queensland passenger rail network later this year, and the remaining fleet rolled out by late 2018.
Currently in Queensland Rail’s current fleet of Trains in the middle there is a guard cabin in the third carriage of the Train. At every Train station there is a disability access boarding point. There is a wheelchair simple and Braille dots on the ground for the blind traveler to stand on. When the Train pulls into the station, the guard is right there willing to assist any member of the community with questions and or concerns. The guard especially assists members of the community with disability though and the community knows this.
When these NGR Model Trains were commissioned by the then Newman government the guard cabin was removed from the standard of the make of the train. The guard was move down to the driver’s cabin down the back of the Train 35 meters away from the Disability access boarding point.
So strait away we have an inconsistency for blind and low-vision travelers. 1 train with a guard cabin in the middle and one without. How do we know witch train has pulled into the station?
So, we approached the now state labor government for comment and they said;
“I understand that there was an overarching preference for a guards cab to be installed in the middle of the NGR train. This option was considered in-depth and in balancing all requirements it was decided that no guard cab will be installed as major changes to the whole train would be required (not just the middle cars) and the costs are extremely high”. The costs are extremely high… So why did the government take the guard cabin out from the middle of the train in the first place? There wasn’t any reasons to remove it. You need to take responsibility for your own actions government!
The state labor government have said they will fund customer service officers to stand at all the disability boarding access points, 145 Queensland rail stations across the network. For 7 days a week, 365 days per year, 52 weeks in a year and 24 hours in a day for the next 30 years. That is just laughable!
I don’t think so! The issue with the customer service officer being on the stations is it causes blind/low vision travelers to be less independent. The customer services officer is going to be trained to walk holding the blind/low-vision’s hand and walk them to the back of the Train and help them to board. This is a baby band aid approach. It demoralizes the person with a disability and it’s a government controlling approach. Not a community approach. With two applications to the Queensland Rail disability reference group asking the state government to restore the guard cabin has been met with silence. Also, there is nothing to say that in the next budget that they will axe these customer services officers and then blind/low vision travelers will be left with nothing and we will be more marginalized in community and unable to travel by train in Queensland. Why do blind travelers have to board from the back of a train in the first place?
This campaign is really very simple;
Jackie Trad, with a state election coming up and as an independent community blind train traveler in your electorate. Blind/low vision people across the state of Queensland are asking you to restore their right to catch a train independently by restoring the Guard cabin in the middle of all the 75 NGR Model Train units. You know it is the right thing to do, so just do it!
1.4 billion dollars over 30 years is a worthwhile investment to spend for the state of Queensland for the safety, independence and security of people with a blindness disability to travel by train throughout the state of Queensland with dignity for 30 years. So why not do it Jackie?
The roll-out of these new trains will coincide with the implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in Queensland. The NDIS has been designed to be the foundation of a new era of participation for PWD, and accessible public transport is key to participation in jobs, education, training, social life.
The Queensland Government is currently consulting on “Towards an all abilities Queensland” which will become the new state government plan for disability in Queensland. Its proposed vision is that “Queenslanders of all abilities can live the life they choose.” Given the $4b train design it begs the question, can PWD choose to use a train in Queensland?
If you feel PWD should be able to choose to use a train in Queensland please support this petition. If you would like to make an individual contribution make sure to also email the Deputy Premier (firstname.lastname@example.org) and cc myself (email@example.com) to explain to her exactly how this issue would deny your citizen rights.
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