Cootamundra Railway Station Waiting Room
|About this Item||Subjects||Police: New South Wales; Railways; Cootamundra
||Speakers||Maguire Mr Daryl
||Business||Private Members Statements
Mr DARYL MAGUIRE (Wagga Wagga) [5.20 p.m.]: In the previous debate I referred to rail safety. In particular, I referred the Minister for Transport to the problem of accessing railway stations at night. I have received correspondence from a constituent, which I shall read onto the record. My constituent stated:
Last week I bought a rail ticket at Wagga Wagga Railway Station Ticket Office to go to Cootamundra on the XPT Train on Wednesday, 19 October, 2005 at 00.31 am arriving at 1.46 am at Cootamundra Station.
This lady has been travelling to Cootamundra each week to attend TAFE. My constituent caught the XPT on the Wednesday in question and it arrived at Cootamundra railway station at 2.00 a.m. She tried to get the door of the carriage to open but the green light did not come on and the train began to move off. My constituent was close to the buffet car and she yelled out several times that she was unable to get off the train. Finally, a lady conductor stopped the train just before it reached the end of the platform. It was then necessary for a male conductor with a key to come and open the door. I note that the honourable member for Lachlan is present in the Chamber to hear this private member's statement. My constituent was the only person to alight at Cootamundra station. She attempted to go into the station waiting room—which she normally does, because she has been travelling to Cootamundra for quite some time to attend her TAFE courses—but walked into the closed and locked door, injuring herself in the process.
A sign on the door stated that the room was closed at night because of vandalism. My constituent stated that at no time had she seen any evidence of vandalism at that station. Normally my constituent would sit in the secure, warm building at the railway station and then attend her TAFE course and return home on the 1.39 p.m. train from Cootamundra. After she alighted from the train she found she needed to go to the toilet but the waiting room was locked. My constituent, an older lady, was then faced with the indignity of having to relieve herself behind some bushes. Thereafter she walked to the Cootamundra police station to seek help and shelter, arriving there at 2.20 a.m. only to find the police station closed. She pressed the phone outside the front door of the station and a male voice answered. She asked where he was speaking from and he replied, "Wagga Wagga police station." My constituent asked where the Cootamundra police were, only to be told that he had just sent them home and no-one was there. The telephone line then went dead.
My constituent walked to a bank of four telephone booths at the Cootamundra post office to ring the 000 emergency line. In the first of these she entered all the buttons on the telephone were covered with blue dye and she was unable to read the numbers. The entire booth was covered in slogans and graffiti. In one of the three other booths she managed to dial 000. A male person answered and she related her predicament, that the police station was closed and unable to offer her assistance. He suggested that she walk to Cootamundra hospital, a mile and a half on the old scale from where she was. She would have had to walk past open parkland and she was reluctant to risk her life walking that distance at that hour of the morning. She asked the person to whom she was speaking to send an ambulance as she was not feeling well. He replied that they had all gone home and there was no help available.
My constituent had no option but to sit there, at 2.20 a.m. on a freezing cold morning. She writes that she was lucky to be wearing a couple of woollen cardigans because she believes she would otherwise have suffered from hypothermia. She would also like to point out that when she bought her rail ticket at the Wagga Wagga rail office she was not told that the waiting room at Cootamundra would be closed. As I said, my constituent, an older person, constantly uses the rail system. I would suggest to the Minister that this is but one example of a railway station waiting room being closed because of a lack of security.
I ask: What are travellers supposed to do in Cootamundra or anywhere else where these facilities are supposed to be available? People use this transport service; they depend on it. The Minister has announced an upgrade of facilities. It is all well and good to have pretty, painted railway stations but it is no good if people cannot use facilities such as toilets, and enjoy the warmth, protection and security that those buildings should offer. Perhaps the Minister should consider an initiative whereby those in possession of a current ticket would be able to swipe the ticket and gain access to waiting rooms to be safe and secure. I would appreciate a response from the Minister to a letter I am about to send on behalf of my constituent.