Can-Do-Ability: Answers and Solutions from my personal experiences of living with a disability

Independently Accessible Trains

9 Jun 2011There is currently a wheelchair ramp trial at Box Hill train station in Victoria, this prototype could mark the beginning of something wonderful for people with mobility issues if it becomes permanent.

The wheelchair ramp consists of a raised platform, which is situated at the end of platform 3. The ramp is raised up enough, so when a train pulls up to the station, the platform and the train are at level heights, so people in wheelchairs, scooters or walking frames, can easily board or depart the train independently.

Previously, the only way to access a train, from a mobility device, such as a wheelchair, scooter or walking frame, was to advise station staff that you had arrived and wait for assistance. They would then have to get a foldable ramp out and lay it across the gap in between the platform and the train. Once on the train, you had to rely on rail staff to alert the station where you were getting off, to get the ramp out and ready for your arrival at the other end.

I have caught trains in the past in and around Sydney, and at times, especially during peak hour, I had been left on the train, with no acknowledgement from rail staff that they were expecting me. I would then have to bang on the guard’s window, or yell out to any staff that I could see, so they could go and get the ramp for me. This usually always held up the train and caused further delays for other passengers.

It’s good to be considered, by having these types of ramps available for people with disabilities, but for me, who is a very independent person, I felt as though I was bothering people and I would’ve preferred to access the train on my own, without causing a huge fuss. But with nothing else available, I and many others with disabilities had no other choice.

This raised platform wheelchair ramp is currently on trial only at Box Hill Train Station, the friendly and helpful Metro staff will be available during the trial to answer any questions or to take customer feedback. They should be available to take questions or comments for the next week or so.

The CEO of Metro, Andrew Lezala, will also be attending the trial on Friday, 17th June 2011 at Box Hill Train Station, platform 3 at 12pm. Andrew will be available to personally answer any question about the wheelchair access ramp trial. To show your support for a better, more independently accessible public transport system, please attend this informal meeting. If you don't live in Victoria or just can't make it down, you can also send your feedback in writing to: http://www.metrotrains.com.au/About-Us/Contact-us.html

Just think, it may only be available as a ‘trial’ in Victoria at the moment, but if enough people stand together and make their voices heard, this could become a permanent fixture to all Victorian train stations, then eventually all train stations around Australia. So if you know anyone who would benefit from independent wheelchair access to trains, please let them know, and let’s spread the word about this trial.

Raised wheelchair platform currently available on trial at Box Hill Station

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Previous Comments

Peggy Polonus from Athens GA USA posted on 25 Jun 2011
Having pressed for the Americans with Disabilities Act, I admire your efforts in Australia. Independent mobility and travel are so empowering. I agree with your concern for being as independent as possible. I know that for many uninformed people, it's a matter of demonstrating the difficulties that we face. Many people do not notice that single step into a place of business because it's so effortless for them. Only when they ask to assist you do they see the obstacles. Here in the US, I hear comments that I'm the first person who has arrived at certain venues. That may be true, and it could be because many stay home to avoid the feelings of being a burden or an inconvenience. Able-bodied people need to see that life can be full even when things aren't perfect, so folk with disabilities need to be visible.

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