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Outcry over railway disabled access

Train stations in Brisbane with no wheelchair access are at the centre of a social media storm sparked by one woman's frustrated Facebook post.

Nearly 1000 people have reacted to Nuala Furtado's comments shared last night after she caught the train with a disabled friend and discovered firsthand the transport challenge her friend faced daily. “We got to [Sherwood] train station and I said, 'oh, this is the suburb that you live in,' and he said 'yes I know but for my entire life that I've been living in this suburb, I've never been able to get off at Sherwood because it's not wheelchair accessible,” Ms Furtado told ABC612 Brisbane this morning.

“Then he explained what he usually does, which is to get to Corinda, the next stop, hop off and then get the elevator up, and then his mum has to drive him home. So that's what we did.”

However the lift was broken, so Ms Furtado climbed the stairs to the ticket office to alert staff to the problem.

“[A staff member] came down and explained it was broken and gave us the only option, which was to wait for the next train, to get the train to Oxley, which is the next stop along, where the lifts were working – we'd have to go down in the lift, transfer to the other stop and get the train back because the elevator on the other platform at Corinda was working," she said.

Frustrating as the experience was, Ms Furtado said her friend took the situation on the chin, which “shocked" her.

“You could see that he was frustrated for a moment and then went, 'oh look, that's OK,' and I thought in my mind, 'why does he have to say it's OK?,"' she said.

"It's not OK. He has to do extra to get home and he's already disadvantaged.”

Crossroads director Ken Wade said situations like the one described by Ms Furtado underscored how often people with disabilities were maligned, and highlighted the gap between goodwill and government investment.

“I'm not sure what's being done to tackle the problem,” Mr Wade said.

“There are still significant problems; there are some stations that aren't wheelchair accessible, some trains have a long step down to the platform, meaning the slope down from the train is very steep, which doesn't prevent people to board but does put their personal safety at risk.

“Sadly, in the current political and economic climate, it's not something that's going to be fixed overnight.”

A spokeswoman for Queensland Rail said they were working on a response to questions from concerning the matter.

In the meantime, she referred to information about disability services available on the QR website.


3 comments so far

  • Public transport bureaucrats should test all stations for access with wheelchair themselves using one. Nothing liking putting oneself in another's shoes to gaining an appreciation to how differently abled people cope. Even as a parent of young children, you learn this as you move your children around when you haven't got spare hands to carry the pram.

    Date and time
    October 26, 2012, 1:04AM
    • I'm ashamed to say I'd never really thought much about it as my local station (Petrie) is pretty good.

      Having to travel from station to station to find one that's wheelchair suitable is a disgrace, frankly.

      Date and time
      October 26, 2012, 9:27AM
      • I agree that it is unfortunate for the people effected.

        However, before the uninformed outcry begins, you should know that the bill to upgrade all stations in the network is in excess of $2 billion (yes billion). Is everyone happy to foot the bill, pay more tax, higher fares, and have other services removed or reduced?

        Date and time
        October 26, 2012, 10:16AM

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