Sydney Trains to Improve Announcements

RailCorp and Graeme Innes AM have reached agreement on all of Mr Innes’ outstanding complaints about the audibility of announcements on trains, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) announced today.

Mr Innes said that, as a result of discussions with RailCorp, he is now ‘satisfied with the process and strategies that have been put in place to improve compliance with the requirement to make clear, consistent and audible on-train announcements’.

Mr Innes, who is blind, made numerous complaints about the failure to provide audible announcements on trains. These announcements are crucial because they allow passengers with vision impairment know they are getting off at the right station.

On 1 February 2013, the Federal Circuit Court found RailCorp had breached federal disability discrimination law by failing to make audible announcements on 36 train journeys undertaken by Mr Innes between 28 March 2011 and 9 September 2011.

Sydney Trains – the new rail entity which assumed responsibility for rail services from 1 July, 2013 – has agreed to take specific steps to continue monitoring and improving on-train announcements. In light of this, Mr Innes has withdrawn further complaints with the Federal Circuit Court, the NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal, and the Australian Human Rights Commission.

‘As a direct result of Mr Innes’ action, travelling on trains is becoming easier for people with vision impairment,’ said Edward Santow, CEO of PIAC, which represented Mr Innes in court.

‘I am pleased that Sydney Trains has agreed to continue to work on improving its system for audible announcements, because this is crucial to making train travel more accessible for people with a disability. We look forward to Sydney Trains implementing its strategies for clear and reliable audible announcements,’ Mr Santow said.

As part of the agreement of 27 June, 2013, Mr Innes has undertaken not to lodge complaints to regulatory authorities regarding audibility of announcements for a period of three years, to enable Sydney Trains to address all barriers to better performance regarding on-train announcements. Mr Innes will make any complaints regarding audibility of announcements directly to Sydney Trains.

Sydney Trains Director Operations Tony Eid said the organisation wants to ensure the services provided to all customers, including those who may be vision impaired, are of the highest possible quality and as such, will continue to work with Mr Innes.

?’Sydney Trains is committed to continuing the implementation of improvements to on-board announcements,’ Mr Eid said.

‘Our customers expect and deserve consistent, clear and accurate announcements on our trains.

‘We will also continue our commitment to dedicated training and disability awareness programs for our front line staff and support these efforts with internal audits of our services,’ he said.

Mr Innes, who is the Disability Discrimination Commissioner, pursued this matter in his private capacity.

CONTACT: PIAC Senior Solicitor, Michelle Cohen on 0478 739 280 or Sydney Trains Media Unit on 8922 4346.

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