In my last post I looked at the “bridges to nowhere” on the Blue Mountains railway line – the new pedestrian bridges built as part of the recently completed widening of the Great Western Highway, especially in the mid-mountains. These have all been built with disabled-friendly ramps but rely on connections to older pedestrian bridges at railway stations without any disabled access to the platforms, or in some cases even to the other side of the railway line. It seems that access policies and targets can be met by providing wheelchair (and pram, stroller and shopping trolley) facilities, but not any actual access to where people might want to go.
Since writing this I’ve had a chance to look at the recently-completed “beautification” work at Hazelbrook station, the busiest mid-mountains station, to which a new pedestrian bridge over the highway was recently added. As I described in my last post the new bridge provides great disabled access across the highway and the railway but stairs are still the only way to access the platform. This is one station however where this problem could be easily fixed by adding a single lift.
Instead Hazelbrook now exemplifies the problem. Not only has a lift not been provided, the powers that be seem determined to get across the message that this is not going to happen anytime soon. The first thing to go up were the high wire mesh barriers to stop objects being thrown at trains or onto the tracks. While this is a laudable aim and it would cost little to remove a section to construct a lift, decorative metal screens have now been added to the mesh fencing, the design of which has clearly not considered the future incorporation of a lift. Then, to top it all, heavy concrete planter boxes and low walls have been added in directly front of all the possible locations for a lift.
Now I have nothing against beautification, or planter boxes, and the added seating is a good idea. However the underlying message seems to be “this is as good as it gets” at Hazelbrook station and by implication the mid-mountains – despite expensive access upgrades elsewhere in the upper mountains, mid-mountains residents with access issues should instead rejoice at their planter boxes and decorative screens.