Minister Bailey- What about our trains?

Open Letter to Transport and Main Roads Minister Bailey

NB: We are frustrated. Minister Bailey has not responded to our request for a timetable for making the new NGR trains accessible. They need revised braile signage, grabrails, widened corridors, accessible toilets, middle-of-train-guards etc etc

16 May 2018

Dear Minister,

RE: Scheduling date for NGR access rectification

On 27 September 2017, Queensland Rail (‘QR’) and Transport and Main Roads (‘TMR’) made a joint application to the Australian Human Rights Commission for temporary exemptions under s 55 of the DDA and s 33A.1 of the Transport Standards in relation to the New Generation Rollingstock (‘NGR’) Train Project.[1] In the application, QR/TMR included a detailed rectification timetable.

The rectification work proposed at page 6 of the Queensland/TMR exemption application includes:

(i) Reconfiguration of the unisex accessible toilet module to meet dimensions and improve functionality in line with DSAPT

(ii) (ii) Dividing the NGR fleet of 75 trains in two, including:

a. An Interurban fleet of 35 trains (two unisex accessible toilet modules per six-car train) – adding a second unisex accessible toilet module to the MA car, so that allocated spaces in both the MB and MA have a DSAPT-compliant access path to a toilet module
b. A suburban fleet of 40 trains (no toilets) – remove the unisex accessible toilet module from the MB car

(iii) Reconfigure seating and allocated spaces in both accessible cars to meet access path width requirements between the assisted boarding door and accessible facilities

(iv) Other changes, including:
a. additional priority seating in new locations,
b. revised train signage (wording and braille),
c. additional grab/handrails and
d. additional accessible buttons and controls where appropriate to maximise functionality.
I am writing to seek your commitment to a commencement date for the NGR rectification process. The Queensland Government’s decision to run non-compliant conveyances[2] is a disappointment to people with disabilities and contrary to the intent of the Queensland Rail Accessibility Action Plan 2014. We ask you to restore the faith of people with disabilities by restating your commitment to accessibility and an NGR rectification timetable.
In addition, we have consulted with a number of people with disabilities about their NGR experiences, and give you the following NGR feedback:
• NGR trains lack an on-board guard stationed in the middle of the train.
A middle guard can better assist people who have mobility impairments (for example, people with vision impairment, using wheelchairs, the elderly, parents with prams) to board and alight. This is a particular necessity at platforms with no staff on duty. Employing on-platform help for the life of the trains is costly and less effective.

• Defective on-board technology limits communication between passengers at the emergency help-point and the on-board guard.
More than once, passengers attempting to use the help-point have been unable to communicate with the guard.

• Braille sign positioning
Designers have placed some of the braille signage awkwardly. For example, at the on-board help-point some of the braille is below adult waist height, and below where it is on the older trains. Consistency of position on all conveyances is critical for people with vision impairments.

• Console position
The microphone on the help-point console only works if the speaker’s mouth is directly adjacent to it; again, this is not vision-impairment friendly, and could have been avoided had TMR consulted with people who have a full range of relevant impairments.

• Not fully accessible stations
Almost half of Queensland Rail’s train stations are not fully accessible, leaving many people with mobility impairments, with prams or injured unable to travel by train.