Rail industry news (Australia, New Zealand)

SA-first for public transport users who travel on the train

Keolis Downer Adelaide, current operator of Adelaide Metro train services has become the first public transport provider in South Australia to become accredited with the internationally recognised Communication Access Symbol, and only the second heavy rail operator across Australia.

Under an initiative to better help passengers with communication difficulties navigate the local train network, 234 frontline rail staff completed 9 months of specialised training.

Margie Charlesworth who was born with cerebral palsy has been a regular train commuter on the Outer Harbor Line for over two decades and said the Communication Access Symbol is a game changer for everyone.

“For passengers such as myself who are unable to use speech to communicate, it’s a huge confidence boost that the frontline rail staff have been specially trained to help you,” Charlesworth said.

“The feeling of independence and inclusivity is very important to me especially when using public transport, and the Communication Access Symbol gives you a real sense of comfort that someone can and will take the time to assist you.”

About one in five South Australians live with a disability and 1.2 million people Australia-wide experience communication difficulties daily according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Managing Director of Keolis Downer Adelaide, Robert Tatton-Jones, said the training provides their frontline team, including train drivers and passenger service assistants, with the necessary tools and skills to support passengers with communication difficulty including language barriers, intellectual, physical or sensory disabilities.

“This includes using communication cards and vision boards showing train stations and key points of interest, along with the alphabet so the user can select letters and spell out words,” he said.

“The accreditation and symbol provide greater assurance to all passengers that their form of communication is valued by us. All South Australians should be heard.”

Two Way Street General Manager, Michaela Banks, said the organisation is the only South Australian approved Assessor for Communication Access and encourages other businesses and industries to step-up and follow passenger rail’s lead in seeking accreditation.

“Good communication is good business and only 17 South Australian based organisations have achieved this vital accreditation. The Communication Access Symbol shows an organisation is accepting and welcoming of people with communication challenges,” Banks said.

The Communications Access Symbol is a blue icon and includes two faces showing an arrow indicating a two-way conversation. The symbol will be proudly displayed at Adelaide Railway Station.

Members of the public who are interested in learning more can find the team at Adelaide Railway Station on Tuesday, 27 February from 8.30-10.30am.