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Byron Shire
April 20, 2024

Byron rail service ‘not public transport’

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Byron Bay Railroad Company says it is not required to provide disabled access due to the heritage nature of its train.

Byron Bay Railroad Company is an accredited heritage rail service, not a public transport provider, the company has stated following claims it fails to provide disabled access to its train service.

A reader whose motorised wheelchair-bound friend wanted to use the service brought the issue to Echonetdaily’s attention, saying ‘no wheelchairs can access the passenger carriages and the only place where a wheelchair can get on is in with the driver and then at the other end of the line the driver overshoots the platform so then he can’t get out’.

The reader questioned the legality of the service not providing disabled access, as require in public transport legislation.

But Byron Bay Railroad Company has responded that it is ‘an accredited heritage rail service utilising heritage railway rolling stock… not a public transport provider’.

‘There is a government subsidised public bus service that operates a very similar route,’ a company spokesperson said.

‘In 1949 there were no disability provisions or legislation nor the same awareness of providing access to disabled persons as we have come to expect today. Accordingly the design and construction of the train did not make provision for wheelchair access,’ the spokesperson continued.

She added that even though the NSW Disability Act dates from 1993 and the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act from 1992, ‘the NSW Government continued to operate these trains in daily commuter service until 2007. This is simply because their design doesn’t lend itself to modification to accept wide wheelchairs’.

She said that due to the heritage nature of the train, it was not possible or desirable to modify the original structure.

However she did say that, ‘persons in wheelchairs less than 660mm wide can still ride on the train, including motorised wheelchairs’.

‘They can board and alight at both platforms, however they need to travel in the entrance vestibules. We have one local resident in a motorised wheelchair that regularly catches the train. It is a tight fit but she is able to get on and off the train and enjoy the journey.

‘Our staff and volunteers assist persons with a disability.’

She said that people in wider wheelchairs can enjoy the round trip by boarding at Byron Bay, adding, ‘they ride with the driver and have a driver’s view out the front of the train which most passengers don’t get to see’.

‘There is a daily lunch time service when the train runs from Byron Beach to North Beach and straight back again.

‘Byron Bay Railroad Company has constructed its platforms at North Beach and Byron Beach to meet the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act and the Building Code of Australia,’ she said


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16 COMMENTS

  1. One person it seems is going to stop a train running so hundreds of other passengers can’t travel.
    This person needs to have two wheelchairs, one so he can get on the train, then he travels on the train in a seat and at the other end he collects his other wheelchair when he gets off.
    When we vote at the next election the majority vote wins the election for the whole nation.
    The majority is about democracy over the minority … or is it the other way around.
    Let the train run.

    • Jimbo J your comments are a bit too outrageous stating “seems is going to stop a train running so hundreds of other passengers can’t travel.”. No where has that been threatened or even stated (of what I can see). Maybe you should watch last nights Q&A program to become more knowledgeable about people with disabilities.

    • One person?

      I have a friend who lives nearby. Like me, a wheelchair user. Married to another wheelchair user. Her husband and I can get on the train and she cannot because hers is a power chair.

      Nice theory though. Look around you, Jimbo. We cripples are everywhere. And if we are not it is because there are jerks who are preventing our equitable access and inclusion.

  2. Wow. So why can’t the platform be extended to the length of the train so the wheelchair in the drivers cabin can elight ?
    This seems a silly excuse. It’s not the train that’s the problem it’s the platform not long enough.
    It’s a simple fix really. There is a section of the platform that is just missing and a garden there. Just extend the platform and then it meets the disability act
    And to the above comment these chairs are not exactly cheap

    • No, its the train. What if more than one person in a wheelchair wants to catch the train? What if they want to ride with their family and friends?

  3. Having been on a return trip on the heritage train, I can say that one of the highlights was helping a carer with her young cared for woman in a wheel chair, on both journeys.
    This required collapsing the specially designed chair, to easily fit through.
    Very simple really.

    If you can’t help when you can, that smacks of another type of disability.

    • What kind of disability would that be, Tim? A disability that requires someone to have a WIDER WHEELCHAIR? Read the story.

      And not everyone has a foldable manual wheelchair. That’s why we have standards and rules under the DDA.

      Simple really.

  4. I can’t believe your ignorance Jimbo. I guess until your child or a family member, friend is wheelchair bound, and permanently confined to a chair, you would never understand the difficulties of getting them around and enjoy the simple things in life. Not every wheelchair bound person is able to get into another chair as they are too disabled. I cannot believe in this day and age you could be so heartless and ignorant. Also can you tell me how the other wheelchair is suppose to get itself to the other end when maybe this person is trying their best to be as independent as possible, especially if they are young and do not want to rely on someone else to get them out and about. This is a sad, sad statement and you need to be a bit more like Thumper!!! If you got nothing nice to say, say nothing at all. You ignorant human being. BUT thank god for people like Tim. Thank God there are people like him.

  5. Tim Shannessy, so what you are saying is that the Carer had to remove the young disabled wheel chair girl from the chair to collapse it, which would have meant physically picking the girl up and seating her on the train and on disembarking the same.
    What if this person was a quadriplegic 100kg person. Sorry but that would never work in that instance.

    Thank you for being considerate enough to help with the situation. I’m sure the carer and disabled girl very much appreciated your efforts.
    I’m all for proper disabled access, regardless where that may be.
    Perhaps either the train or platform can be modified for all to use the Heritage Train.

  6. a whole load of bullshit about nothing much. the train is a tourist train and has only been going for a short time. so those in wheelchairs havent lost anything, because they didnt have it before. end of story….

  7. This mob say they’re a public transport provider when it suits them, a solar train when it suits them, now they’re a heritage railway. They say they use an ”existing bridge”, despite having replaced the old timber one with steel, and that “the rail corridor had been maintained”, though they spent months ripping out thousands of trees. Then there’s the lost wildlife, and the mass die-back along the Belongil after they dislodged all that toxic sediment. Fact is, they’re a hotel shuttle service run by a coal mining millionaire, but hey, enjoy the ride.

  8. thousands of clubs around austraia – and shopping centres, and entertainment facilities, and public facilities have to provide facilities for disabled people … not being a public transport is not an excuse! You have a requirement under the law to provide such facilities! I note the doorway shown in the picture attached to this story is wide enough to take a wheel chair when BOTH doors are opened,. I know this, because I am the son of a former railway station Master,and these trains serviced the line on which he worked ( the Walgett line), these two car diesels were a daily visit to Walgett and there were no difficulties getting a wheel chair passenger on in those days, so with the more modern wheelchairs of today, it should be a very simple thing to have someone provide a “ramp” to get the chair on and off the train..in the same way the Manly ferries have a gangway which is provided for passengers…. Stop fooling around and get your heads out from between your fat lazy legs.. It may well be that the wheel chair passenger may travel in the Goods or Parcel section of the train, but that’s better than not being able to travel at all — and as a tourist train you should not be carrying goods or parcels anyway.. so convert the entire section into a wheel chair passenger-friendly compartment you dickwits!

  9. Can’t anyone see the blatant discrimination in all of this? No-one chooses to be dis-abled. It can happen to anyone. Why do I feel disgusted? With compassion there is great remedy in life…and that comes in all forms and shapes.

  10. Here is an idea…why don’t the people complaining about the train, complain about the lack of suitable “Public” transport in the area, and complain about the threats to tear up portions of the line for bike tracks that wheelchair users wouldn’t be able to use. Then argue to re-open the line all the way from Casino to Murwillumbah with a regular commuter service.

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