Sydney Trains Network – An Accessibility Investigation

Headlines

  • 45% of all Sydney train stations are inaccessible to those with additional mobility needs
  • The T1 line has 31 inaccessible stations, the highest number of all the lines
  • 45,000 people per day are being prevented from using the trains due to lack of accessibility
  • Over 2 million individual trips made using Sydney’s trains each day

Intro

I have undertaken an investigation into how accessible the Sydney train network is for those requiring additional mobility support including but not limited to wheelchair users, the elderly and parents using strollers.

The investigation looks into how many individuals use the Sydney train network each day, the number of people who pass through each train station on a daily basis, which stations don’t offer access for those with additional mobility requirements, which of the 7 train lines are the worst offenders, and what the overall impact of this is to the community.

You can read more about why I undertook this extensive research project in my blog post entitled “Trains, Pains & Autonomy”: www.paulinoz.com/trains-pains-and-autonomy/


The Results

The study shows that of the 230 stations on the Sydney trains network, 79 (45%) offer no access for those with additional mobility needs due to either disability, age or individuals with children in pushchairs.

On average, 34,387 individuals in Sydney are prevented from using the train network each day due to not being able to access the station’s platforms. That’s equal to 240,709 trips week, or over 12.5 million a year!

Sydney Trains Network stations without access

The number of stations on the Sydney Trains Network that do and do not have easy access facilities.

Sydney Trains Network passengers easy access

The number of passengers that currently either board or disembark a train each day on the Sydney Trains Network at stations that do and do not have easy access facilities.

When we look at the individual train lines on the network, the T1 line was the worst offending, where 31 out of 42 stations have no infrastructure in place to provide easy access for the public to the platforms. However when we look at the lines in terms of a percentage, the worst offending then appears to be the T3 line, where 52% of train stations (17 stations) offered no easy access.

Sydney Trains Network lines access

Table showing the number of stations, both with and without easy access facilities, on each of the 7 Sydney Trains Network lines.

The line with the least number of offending stations is the T7 line, where all stations have easy access infrastructure in place – however there are currently only 2 active stations on this line, no not much of an achievement.

Naming and shaming individual stations based on how busy they are and we find that Redfern if the worst, having the largest daily passenger foot-flow of all stations on the network not offering any easy access facilities (48,640 passengers per day). Coming in second is Museum station in the CBD (21,340 passengers per day) and in third is Edgecliff station in the Eastern suburbs (14,100 passengers per day).

What the restricted Sydney Trains Network looks like if you require additional mobility support

We’re all very familiar with the Sydney Trains Network map that shows all 7 lines and each of the stations, but what does that map look like if you are only able to use stations with easy access facilities?

The answer? Extremely restricted!

(click the images to see full size versions)

Sydney Trains Network map - original

The original Sydney Trains Network map

Sydney Trains Network map - easy access stations

The Sydney Trains Network map showing only the stations that offer easy access facilities.

And just for a laugh, I made an animated GIF as well!

Sydney Trains Network - GIZ showing stations with and without easy access

Conclusion

While being one of the World’s most famous and influential cities, Sydney let’s itself down catastrophically in how it caters for the needs of those who need additional consideration in terms of gaining physical access to public services.

I do appreciate that it will cost a lot of state money to rectify the current shortfalls in accessibility of the Sydney Trains Network, however it needs to be a discussion on the agenda now so plans can be put in motion.

So please, take what you’ve learned from my efforts here and get shouting about it to anyone and everyone that will listen – as if I have to carry one more pushchair up the steps at St Peters strain station, I’m going to put my own back out and require easy access facilities myself!


The Data and the Maths

The research and data used in the study has been collated from numerous governmental sources including Australian Bureau of Statistics, Bureau of Transport Statistics, and Transport NSW.

While counting how many stations on the Sydney Trains Network do and do not have easy access facilities is straightforward, calculating how this impacts people in the real world is the tricky part.

Using data from government reports I was able to calculate how many people living in Sydney with additional mobility needs are affected by the lack of easy access infrastructure.

The maths is as follows:

a% + b% = c%
c% + d% = e%
f x e% = g
g – f = x

Where…

a – % of elderly/disabled requiring mobility assistance in Sydney

b – % of children under 4 years old requiring mobility assistance in Sydney

c – % total requiring mobility assistance in Sydney

d – Average total number of individuals either boarding or disembarking from a train at a station without easy access facilities per day (d = 100%)

e – % average total number of individuals who want to either board or disembark from a train at a station without easy access facilities per day

f – Average total number of individuals either boarding or disembarking from a train at a station without easy access facilities per day

g – Average total number of individuals who want to either board or disembark from a train at a station without easy access facilities per day

x – Average total number of individuals who are unable to either board or disembark from a train at a station without easy access facilities per day

Assumptions

As with all data calculated from a mix of 3rd party sources, there are a few basic assumptions being made:

  • All individuals with additional mobility requirements would travel by train if they had the option to
  • The percentage of the population in Sydney that have additional mobility requirement are consistent with the national average
  • All children up to the age of 4 make use of a pram, pushchair or stroller
  • Being averages for simplicity, the figures assume an equal level of train usage each day of the week

Sources

Australian Bureau of Statistics; ABS. (2008). Population Projections, Australia 2006 – 2101

Australian Bureau of Statistics; ABS. (2013). Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings, 2012

Australian Bureau of Statistics; ABS. (2014). Population by Age and Sex, Regions of Australia, 2013

Bureau of Transport Statistics; BTS. (2014). Station Barrier Counts – 2004 to 2013

Use of Images

If it helps raise more awareness of the issue, you can use any and all images that are in this report or anywhere else on this site for that matter, however all rights are reserved and so when used, attribution must always be given in each instance to “Paul Martin” and “www.paulinoz.com”.