Adjournment matter – Rail Service Accesability

My adjournment is for the Minister for Public Transport, and the action I seek is an increase in the number of wheelchair-accessible carriages on the V/Line network. This is an ongoing issue and one I have raised in this place many times before because our public transport network is not inclusive of everyone.

There are 14 BZN-style carriages in service. These are carriages that have wider doorways and accessible toilets. They are shared among services on the Warrnambool line, the Shepparton line, the Bairnsdale line and the Swan Hill line.

The Warrnambool line alone has eight services to or from Melbourne daily, requiring at least four train sets to fill that requirement. Often, though, the Warrnambool line does not have one of these carriages available or the carriage is available but the toilet is out of service.

I suggest that the minster log onto Facebook and have a look at the page ‘Accessible trains, every day, every train’, a campaign run by All Abilities Advocacy south-west and the Disability Resources Centre. The minister, like me, has been tagged in many posts, so it should be easy for her to find. That page shows very clearly the issues we have when it comes to disability access to our transport system on the Warrnambool line and how people are being excluded.

I asked the minister a question without notice in this place in August last year, and she confirmed there were 14 BZN carriages on the network. She also said the $114 million revitalisation of the Warrnambool line would address accessibility issues.

I assumed she was referring to the promise that those works would allow for modern VLocity carriages that has been made several times since that project was first announced. But we know that the Labor government has no plans to run VLocity trains on the line, with the Minister for Transport Infrastructure quietly dropping the news to the community in a Warrnambool Standard interview over the summer.

That came just six months after the minister told the same paper that VLocity trains would run on the line despite leaked documents saying the work being undertaken would not allow for them. So it now seems people who need accessible carriages will be relying on the BZN carriages, which were originally built in the 1980s, for their transport needs.

It is simply not good enough that in this day and age we have a group of people still being excluded from using the transport option of their choice, and it does not look like it is going to get any better anytime soon.

The minister must act to ensure that there are greater options for people who use wheelchairs on our public transport system.