A long awaited upgrade to the platform at Wallarobba railway station has been a disappointment and a waste of taxpayers’ money according to local residents.
Commuters who make use of the 10 trains that stop there during the week have made numerous representations to members of parliament and Railcorp to have the very steep ramp, which was had been in a state of disrepair, replaced.
Wallarobba resident and engineer Geoff Berry said the replacement ramp replicates the original non-compliant ramp which has been the source of numerous complaints and minor incidents due to the steepness of the slope which has proven difficult for able bodied persons to ascend or descend safely.
“It is almost impossible for an incapacitated or wheelchair bound person to negotiate without assistance,” he said.
“Even if a motorised wheelchair could climb the ramp controlling its momentum upon arrival at that the top would require a very skilled operator due to the restricted size of the platform and the consequences of a wheelchair rolling off the platform or stalling and careering backwards down the ramp could be catastrophic.
“Pedestrian ramps are required to have an access way with a gradient steeper than 1 in 20, but not steeper than one in 14 in accordance with Australian Standard AS 1428.1—Design for access and mobility, Part 1: General requirements.
“This standard applies to new and replacement ramps and is supported by amongst other entities as the Australian Human Rights Commission.
“We have estimated this ramp to be one in three.
“Our friends have a wheelchair bound relative and she is unable to use the train service to Wallarobba due to the steepness of the ramp to the platform.
“Even with a couple of helpers it is impossible for an able bodied person to climb the ramp in a wheelchair and I suggest that it would take someone like the athletic Kurt Furnley with his Kokoda experience to conquer this slope.
“Towing a wheeled suitcase down the ramp caused one person to fall heavily when the suitcase took off and cannoned into the back of her knees and people have taken to dropping their bags over the rail to the ground so that they can hang on with both hands when descending the ramp.”
Anne Higgins said it had been one bungle after another.
“When I saw work being done at the platform I called in and was dismayed to see the ramp was going to be exactly the same,” Ms Higgins said.
“I spoke to the contractors who put me in contact with the next chain of command and he was a contractor too. I asked who he spoke to at Railcorp and he said he rang the general enquiries line.
“It seems like no-one knows what is going on.”
In a statement to the chronicle a spokesperson for Transport NSW said further reviews would have to take place before the ramp was upgraded.
“Recently repairs were made at Wallarobba Station to an existing ramp to address aging issues with the existing structure,” she said.
“Timber tread boards were replaced and non-slip surface treatments were installed.
“The NSW Government wants to ensure upgrades occur where required most based on evidence, such as current and future patronage, the needs and demographics of those who use the station, and whether important services such as hospitals or educational facilities are nearby.
“ When the review is complete, stations meeting the criteria will be prioritised for upgrades.”