Ku-ring-gai Electorate Railway Station Accessibility
Mr ALISTER HENSKENS (Ku-ring-gai) (19:18:15): The T1 North Shore line and the T9 Northern line historically have been two of the most heavily patronised lines on the Sydney rail network. However, when I became a member of Parliament only Gordon and Turramurra—two of the eight railway stations on those lines within the Ku-ring-gai electorate—were accessible by a lift. The railway stations in Ku-ring-gai represent some of the best examples of early 1900s Sydney suburban railway station architecture and design, set in most cases among beautiful gardens maintained by the councils and local community. Little has changed at these stations since the line was electrified in the late 1920s. Wahroonga railway station, in particular, is listed on the State Heritage Register and it is one of the best preserved and most attractive island platform and station buildings in metropolitan Sydney. But it is only accessible by quite steep stairs. The Government has made a commitment to making public transport more modern, safe and accessible.
The Ku-ring-gai electorate has many less-mobile residents who would benefit from an accessibility upgrade to their local railway station. As a consequence, since I have come into Parliament, I have made personal representations to the Premier, Treasurer and transport Minister for funding to upgrade these stations. I was delighted to announce in June last year that funding was approved for an accessibility upgrade at Wahroonga station to commence with a new lift; upgraded access pathways and ramps; a new family accessible toilet and unisex ambulant toilet; a new kiss-and-ride zone; new accessible parking; and improvements to closed-circuit television [CCTV] and lighting to increase safety and security. As part of the planning process, consultation was undertaken with the local community in November and December last year. There was an opportunity to meet representatives from the Transport for NSW project team at Wahroonga station and, like several Wahroonga commuters I was able to provide feedback and have my questions about the project answered. It will be undertaken in a way that is sensitive to the potential impact on the heritage features and village atmosphere of the station and its surrounds. The invitation to tender closed in February 2019 and the contract is expected to be awarded next month. While the Wahroonga upgrade will be very welcome, I knew that Ku-ring-gai deserved much more and that I would have to persist in my campaign to ensure that Ku-ring-gai was given its fair share of the train station upgrades across Sydney.
I must acknowledge that many people in the community, including the Waitara social justice group, have been very vocal in asking the Government to secure a lift for these stations. At all of the stations without a lift in my electorate it is very difficult, if not impossible, to access the train services for those with children in prams, seniors and the disabled. In January I was ecstatic to announce at Waitara station, amongst a group of very happy members of the community, that Waitara was earmarked for an upgrade in the coming months. I also announced that three more stations in Ku-ring-gai—Normanhurst, Pymble and Warrawee—would get lifts.
I am frequently asked when all these lift upgrades will be completed. The lift installation process includes design, community consultation, finalisation of the design, invitation to tender, awarding of the contract, and construction. The process takes a different length of time for each railway station as they each have their own unique heritage and engineering considerations. I have been advised that Waitara and Pymble stations are more complex projects than the others. At Waitara station, preliminary investigations are being undertaken to identify the required upgrades, which, in addition to two new lifts, may include accessible pathways and new accessible amenities. The upgrading of the stairs and regrading and extension of the platform are also being considered. Once again, consultation will be undertaken with the local community and key stakeholders as part of the planning process.
The plans for Pymble station and Normanhurst station are similar to Waitara: Pymble station will require three lifts and there is a proposed family-accessible toilet, upgraded stairs and platform. Normanhurst station will have two lifts added to the existing footbridge while a strategic business case is being prepared to link the project to the Epping to Thornleigh third track works to ensure that the construction takes place as efficiently and effectively as possible. As it is anticipated to be the most straightforward of the four railway stations announced in January 2019. Community consultation in relation to the Warrawee station accessibility upgrade has already commenced. At Warrawee it is proposed that a new lift will be accompanied by a canopy, upgraded access pathways and ramps, accessible parking, new kiss-and-ride zones, accessible toilets, CCTV cameras and additional lighting.
The New South Wales Government has now invested more than $2 billion in the Transport Access Program. I am proud to be part of a Liberal Government that can manage its budget so that local infrastructure is provided that will dramatically improve the quality of many people's lives. The five Ku-ring-gai railway stations that I have spoken of today are just examples of the local infrastructure improvements that the Government is making all across the State. It is a great privilege to be part of a government that is looking after the communities because it is able to manage its budgets so well.