Spinal Life Australia member and disability advocate Bill Simpson believes the Australian Human Rights Commission made the right choice in rejecting a three-year exemption to discrimination laws to allow the New Generation Rollingstock (NGR) trains to be put into service.
Mr Simpson, a regular train user with incomplete paraplegia, welcomed today’s preliminary decision to reject the State Government’s application to continue service of the NGR trains before major accessibility issues could be fixed.
“Having the NGR trains in service for another three years before they can be made accessible and fit for service would be a very disappointing result for Queenslanders with disabilities,” Mr Simpson said.
“Today’s Australian Human Rights Commission decision was the right step forward.”
Mr Simpson said along with inaccessible walkways and bathrooms, there were many issues with the NGR train design.
This includes the location of the guard cab at the rear of the train, 70 metres away from where people requiring boarding assistance wait mid-platform.
Disability advocacy organisation Spinal Life Australia launched a petition in the lead up to the Australian Human Rights Commission decision calling upon the State Government to not repeat the same mistakes in the future.
Spinal Life Chief Executive Officer Michael Powell said the petition received more than 2,800 signatures in support of introducing new measures to make accessibility a mandatory part of future State Government infrastructure.
“While I understand the NGR procurement process began under a previous Government, we would like to see measures introduced to ensure full accessibility is met before any future State infrastructure projects leave the planning stage,” Mr Powell said.
“By doing things right the first time, we can ensure Queenslanders with a disability are not left behind.
“We are also eagerly awaiting a proposed timetable of when the NGR trains will be removed from service and when appropriate works can be made to bring the trains up to accessibility standards.