FOR years, Griffith CPSA Branch had been campaigning relentlessly for the midweek Sydney to Griffith train service to be re-instated.
The Sydney-Griffith-Sydney twice-a-week service was cancelled altogether under the Greiner Government in the late 1980s and replaced with a coach service, which is unsuitable for a lot of people, particularly older people and those with a physical disability.
A weekend train service was reinstated by the Carr Government following community campaigning, but the midweek service was not. This meant that a trip to Sydney always meant a stay of at least a week.
Reinstatement of the midweek service to a destination that requires an arduous road trip or an expensive airline ticket in the absence of an adequate train service makes sense for everyone, locals, their family living elsewhere and tourists.
The Griffith community has never accepted the loss of the midweek service. Peter Knox, President of Griffith CPSA Branch, credits the Griffith’s community perseverance and participation in a petition for the recent announcement by Transport for NSW of the midweek’s service’s reinstatement. Transport for NSW will be consulting with the community as to the exact timetabling for train services between Griffith and Sydney before the midweek service will start running again.
The Griffith announcement indicates that the Older Persons Transport and Mobility Plan 2018-2022, which was recently released by the NSW Government, is not window-dressing.
The Plan aims to address the challenges that older people experience using public and private transport as they age. This is a necessary undertaking as older people will make up one in five customers of transport services within the next two decades.
Some of the planned projects of Transport for NSW include (1) continuing trials of flexible and demand responsive services in metropolitan and rural areas, (2) providing dementia awareness training to customer service staff, and (3) designing better rural transport services to provide access to key destinations, such as hospitals and medical centres.
By 2012, 55 per cent of stations Australia-wide were supposed to be compliant with standards such as lifts, stairs, access paths and ramps.
But NSW is lagging behind. A recent report by the ABC showed that in 2018, only 54 per cent of stations in NSW were independently accessible. According to the timeline, stations should have been 90 per cent accessible by now.