Piper wants train station upgrades

FALL SITE: MP Greg Piper wants action on Wyee station, where an 80-year-old man was seriously injured when he fell on the steep steps. The fall led to the man developing pneumonia, which caused him to have a heart attack.Picture: Jamieson Murphy
FALL SITE: MP Greg Piper wants action on Wyee station, where an 80-year-old man was seriously injured when he fell on the steep steps. The fall led to the man developing pneumonia, which caused him to have a heart attack.Picture: Jamieson Murphy

THE state member for Lake Macquarie is urging the government to use money from a pool of transport funds to fix accessibility and parking issues at local train stations.

Greg Piper wants some of the $770 million available through the Transport Access Program used to upgrade the stations at Dora Creek, Wyee, Fassifern and Morisset.

"There are a number of stations in Lake Macquarie that urgently need improvements to bring accessibility and safety up to standards that meet community expectations," Mr Piper said.

Many passengers struggle to navigate the steep steps at Wyee station.

In May, Don Ellis, 80, was visiting from Melbourne when he fell down those steps.

He suffered multiple facial fractures, including injuries to his forehead, eye socket and nose, and spent about a month in hospital.

Mr Ellis also sustained a suspected neck injury so he was unable to sit upright. Lying down for a prolonged period caused him to develop pneumonia and he subsequently suffered a heart attack.

Mr Ellis's daughter, Joanne O'Hara, said when the paramedics arrived, they had no way of stretchering her father down the steep steps.

Instead, they had to support him on their shoulders as he walked down to the ambulance.

Dora Creek station has similar accessibility issues - the northbound platform has no ramp, which makes it close to impossible for mobility-impaired passengers to access the platform.

The southbound platform does have a ramp, but there is no safe road crossing from the station to the business and residential area of Dora Creek.

"[Dora Creek and Wyee stations] serve many elderly patrons, so accessibility is a significant problem," Mr Piper said.

Fassifern station car park has a number of issues.

The bus turning area is inadequate, forcing bus drivers to use the car park as a layover area.

The bus stop is located on a sloping, unsealed area some distance from the station, with no seating or protection from the weather.

"I touched on all of these issues with the Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian at a meeting during the last parliamentary sitting," Mr Piper said.

"I have also reissued an invitation for her to visit the electorate to inspect the stations and see for herself the difficulties commuters face."

Morisset station would also benefit from an upgrade, because it lacked permanent wheelchair-accessible toilets, and is currently served by two wheelchair-accessible portable toilets.

In May, Ms Berejiklian said in a letter to Mr Piper: "permanent wheelchair-accessible toilets at Morisset Station are being considered".

"More planning and design work will now occur to see which projects will come next."

Funding available

THE Transport Access Program is an initiative to deliver transport infrastructure where it is needed most.

Dozens of sites have already been upgraded since the program kicked off in 2009, with many more projects currently under way.

So far, the only Lake Macquarie project to receive funding from the scheme has been the Cardiff station upgrade.

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