Fantastic work everybody that has signed so far. Nearing in on 150 signatures within the first 24 hours shows how important this issue is. Make sure to help us keep up the momentum by sharing to your social media including any disability and human rights groups and encourage any organisations you are a part of to share with their constituents.
To: Deputy Premier and Minister for Transport the Hon Jackie Trad
All aboard. If you can! Make QRs new $4b trains accessible
Four billion dollars’ worth of new Queensland New Generation Rollingstock (NGR) trains will not be fully accessible to passengers with disability. Citizens with disability in Queensland call on the now Labor state government and its recently appointed Deputy Premier and Minister for Transport, the Hon Jackie Trad to follow through with the Premier’s mandate to fix train transport. She can make a start on this by suspending work on NGR and commencing real negotiations with disability groups not stalling tactics. Thereby ensuring taxpayer funds are used for fully functional accessible solutions not stop gap lowest price liabilities. Liabilities that will degrade SE Queensland as a destination of choice for tourism and reduce its standing as an inclusive region.
Why is this important?
People with disability (PWD) in Queensland need your support to ensure their citizen rights are upheld. Based on the specifications publicly available there will be many groups of PWD (vision impairment, physical disability, intellectual disability and autism) that will be disadvantaged in both boarding and exiting the trains. Taxpayer funded public transport that by its very nature is meant to be a driver for inclusion of citizens into community will instead exclude.
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. The current design has a number of access issues.
1. The corridor linking a carriage purpose-designed with accessible seating and a toilet is too narrow for most manual and motorized wheelchairs causing some PWD to have to leave the train and re-enter through a different door in order to use the bathroom. A time consuming exercise, potentially dangerous whilst raining, all whilst the train stays to a timetable.
2. The toilet space does not meet the relevant size standards set out in legislation. Meaning it is simply inaccessible to some PWD who use a wheelchair for mobility and a danger to use for others.
3. The location of the guard (who assists a PWD with boarding and exiting the train) will be at the rear instead of in the middle of the train. This is a change from years of the guard being located in the middle of the train so as to intentionally align the guard with the purpose built accessible boarding area on existing station platforms. The new rear location presents potential safety concerns for a PWD being left behind on a platform due to not being seen from a guard location at the end-of-the-train – concerns that are real and potentially life threatening on an unmanned station late at night.
These trains are meant for 30-plus years of service, meaning potential generations of PWD missing out on community inclusion. The roll-out 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.