Today’s announcement that Macquarie Fields is one of the seven new stations that will receive upgrades with work starting later this year, is a huge acknowledgement of Anoulack Chanthivong’s advocacy.
For years, the State Member for Macquarie Fields has been waging a dogged campaign to get those lifts, robustly supporting his community who now have to travel to either neighbouring Ingleburn or Glenfield Stations to catch a train if they have mobility issues or a pram or are even carrying their luggage to the airport.
A station upgrade would even feature with annual regularity atop Mr Chanthivong’s Christmas Wish List for Santa! The station has never been fully accessible, with the City-bound Platform 1 only accessible via stairs.
As part of an $800 million election commitment by NSW Labor to accelerate accessibility upgrades at stations across NSW, upgrades to Macquarie Fields Station will include a new footbridge with lifts, stairs, a covered walkway to the platforms, a new family accessible toilet, improved lighting and CCTV.
There will be six accessible parking spaces, two new accessible drop-off spaces and a relocated bus stop on Railway Parade. Access to the station will be improved with a new pedestrian crossing and signage.
“We have a very diverse community, with many young families and carers with prams, people with disabilities, the elderly, women and girls – to whom this station upgrade is going to mean a world of difference,” Mr Chanthivong said.
“There will be some disruption during the construction phase, however it’s short-term pain for long-term gain – as we know this upgrade will deliver a safer, more accessible and more inclusive station.”
Campaigning for the NSW State elections, Chris Minns had visited Macquarie Fields station exactly a year ago last February. Along with Jo Haylen – now Transport Minister – he had promised us that “Labor will make train stations more accessible and safe, including for people with disability as well as the elderly.”
Will Mac Fields actually finally be taken notice of, we asked. Or was this just another election promise meant to be taken with the proverbial pinch of salt?
More than 10,000 passengers travel through the station every week and the community is home to 2,000 people aged over 60, many of whom have been campaigning for lifts for over 8 years. Their campaign was ignored by the previous NSW Liberal Government who invested in lesser-used stations like Hawkesbury River Station first, which sees only a quarter of the weekly passenger numbers.
But NSW Labor has kept to their word and this 136-year-old station is one of seven new stations in line for an upgrade. The others are Moss Vale, Lewisham, Griffith, Bardwell Park, Chester Hill and Queanbeyan.
NSW Premier Chris Minns said that in 2024, it’s not acceptable that a person in a wheelchair or a parent with a pram can’t access a station in NSW.
“We committed to upgrading train stations to make them more accessible, safe and secure for the people who need them the most, and that is what we are delivering,” he said.
The $800.7 million program is a combination of the old Transport Accessibility Program, the Commuter Carpark Program, and the additional $300 million Labor committed at the 2023 election.
Member for Werriwa Anne Stanley acknowledged that today’s announcement was the culmination of years of advocacy by Mr Chanthivong.
“I thank all the members of the community that have supported our campaign. It is a great and long overdue win for the Macquarie Fields community by a Labor Government,” she said.