Redfern needs major upgrades before 2020

Platform 4 at Redfern Station, the Western line after earlier signal failure near Strathfieldsmh newsphotos Ben RushtonMarch 15 2012Within a couple of years, about 10,000 Commonwealth Bank employees will begin work at n Technology Park, where the majority will be expected to catch a train to the adjacent Redfern Station.
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But Redfern Station fails, for most commuters, to provide lifts or meet accessibility standards. With the impending arrival of the bank in 2020, this fact has helped prompt a flurry of meetings and attempted deals to try to upgrade the station.

The refusal of successive governments to upgrade Redfern Station, which is the seventh busiest in Sydney, has been echoed by repeated indications that, someday, something may be done.

“One old rail person told me it was almost someone’s full-time job to work on plans for Redfern Station,” said Geoff Turnbull, a convenor of community group REDWatch

Mr Turnbull’s group has collated pictures of proposed upgrades to Redfern Station from 1944. Plans were drawn up in the mid-1990s for underground concourses, while the former Labor government said it would fund upgrade designs in 2006.

In 2013, then transport minister Gladys Berejiklian broke with tradition by announcing the government would install a lift at Redfern. That lift, completed in 2015, enables passengers travelling on only one line, the Inner West Line, to move from the station platform to concourse without using stairs or escalators.

Commuters can change for this platform at Central. But the lift does not directly service the station’s most heavily used lines, for instance the Western Line from Parramatta, or the Eastern Suburbs and Illawarra lines.

“Anyone who is coming into Sydney University or the new CBA or other developments on those lines aren’t going to be able to use that lift,” said Mr Turnbull.

In the past year there has been steady contact between representatives from Transport for NSW, developer Mirvac, which won the right to build three new buildings at Technology Park, and the Commonwealth Bank, Mirvac’s anchor tenant.

One result has been that a $494,000 tender was issued to engineering firm Jacobs Group in July for geotechnical surveying to enable the “rigorous planning, design and construction of future works” at Redfern. That contract is to run until the end of 2018.

“Future works to provide lift access to all platforms at Redfern are subject to practical construction considerations and detailed environmental assessment,” said a spokeswoman for Transport for NSW.

A spokeswoman for the bank, meanwhile, said it had been “working with Mirvac and relevant government agencies to explore how accessibility to the site, and known issues with Redfern Station, can be improved for our people and the community prior to our move”.

A Mirvac spokeswoman said: “Mirvac is aware of accessibility issues at Redfern Station and is in constant dialogue with a number of parties, including the state government and its agencies, on how to improve the access at the station.”

Just over 50 per cent of Sydney’s train stations meet disability standards. The Premier, Ms Berejiklian, said last week it would not be decades but “years” before all were upgraded.

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