State Member for Wallsend, Ms Sonia Hornery MP, has called on the Minister for Regional Transport to explain why disabled travellers in Newcastle are being denied the right to book ahead on Country Link train services.
Ms Hornery has received calls from local residents this week who have advised that they have been denied the ability to book an advance ticket on the XPT service from Broadmeadow to Sydney.
Residents have been advised that Newcastle and Hunter residents can only book a ticket within two weeks of their scheduled travel date, not months in advance like any other NSW resident.
For some local residents, who need to travel to Sydney in a designated disabled seat with access to a disabled toilet, this is putting their medical treatment in jeopardy.
Quotes attributable to State Member for Wallsend, Sonia Hornery MP
“The Minister will need to explain why local residents are being excluded and he needs to do it quickly.”
“My office has received calls this week from distraught residents who are beside themselves as they are now unsure if they will be able to secure a seat to travel to vital medical appointments.”
“In the past, they have been able to ring up a few months in advance, secure a specialised seat on the XPT, which gives them access to a disabled toilet. They can then travel to Sydney for their medical appointments as needed.”
“Now they are being told that a new policy is in place and Newcastle and Hunter residents can no longer book special seats that far in advance because they are not regional enough.”
“The suggestion from Countrylink staff is that they catch the regular Intercity service to Sydney, but for many this is impossible due to the trains not being accessible for many disabled people and have no disabled bathroom facilities.”
“This Minister’s obsession with excluding Newcastle from everything has gone too far. First it was the Regional Seniors Travel Card and now it is our disabled travellers.”
“This needs to be fixed and it needs to be fixed now.”