"Off The Rails" - A Series of Messenger Press Articles


by Greg Barila

New Review Messenger - Wed 15 Oct 2003, Page 5

Commuters wait to board at the Elizabeth Railway Station

Commuters wait to board at the Elizabeth Railway Station
Picture: Ian Roddie

AS THE Gawler line train winds its way through the industrial precinct on the outskirts of the city, there is one recurring feature of the landscape - graffiti.

Finding a fence, power-box or factory wall unsullied by the tags and symbols of local vandals seems an impossible challenge. Past the abandoned Islington railyards, the buildings are worse for wear and the vandals have been busy.

The News Review Messenger and the People for Public Transport recently rode the Gawler to Adelaide line, getting on and off at stations to investigate the condition of each (see table) and the thoughts of commuters.

There are a several rotten apples on the line. Parafield is one of them. The station is peppered with graffiti, the bins are bashed-up and one of the seats is missing.

Like so many others, security is lacking.

At stations such as Greenfields, Nurlutta, Smithfield, Munno Para and Kudla, the sheer isolation is striking."They were all just so sad and lonely,'' PPT secretary Margaret Dingle said.

Two elderly women towards the front of the train say safety and
security is their biggest concern."I guess the biggest concern traveling on the trains is the safety aspect, especially towards the evening and at night,'' Margaret Burnside says.

"I don't use them at all at night for that reason.''

Her companion, Margaret Muir also frets about night travel.

"I use Womma station and that's a source of worry,'' Mrs Muir says.

"I don't ever use it at night because I get off at Elizabeth and take a bus to where I live because it's too dangerous. Even when you come to it in the daytime, there's usually big lads sitting up on top (of the shelter).

"So you're frightened to go near and I do know someone who's been mugged three times at that one station . . . ''

The glaring lack of security at her station means the chances of someone fleeing an assailant are grim, Mrs Muir says.

"I can't run as fast as I used to be able to,'' she says, chuckling.

Other Messenger Press Articles


STATIONS were graded out of 10 in six areas (totalling 60 points): appearance, maintenance and upkeep; security; lighting; car/bike parking; disability access and facilities (toilets, seats, food, tickets).

Ovingham. Rating: 25/60, Comment: ''Somewhat run-down appearance. Shelters in substandard condition."

Dudley Park: 37. "Some graffiti. No security. Ramps uneven.''

Islington: 9. "Very unsafe access. Poor visibility on road crossing. Generally untidy."

Kilburn: 16. "Urine smell. Uneven access across line."

Dry Creek: 26."Clean, industrial area. Tight maze, bad for wheelchairs,"

Greenfields: 27. "Underpass smelly. Seating, shelter good."

Parafield Gardens: 28. "Underpass a bit smelly. Western maze a bit tight. Reasonable ramp,"

Parafield: 30. "Smooth platform. Rail crossing rough, Shelters need maintenance."

Chidda: 24."Graffiti evidence, alcohol litter. Platform lights OK."

Salisbury: 50. "Appearance and maintenance, generally OK."

Nurlutta: 23.''Reasonably clean. Uneven platform. Some boken glass. No security,"

Elizabeth South: 41. ''Pleasant, clean and fairly well maintained. No toilets. No security devices."

Elizabeth: 49."Not as accessible as Salisbury. Twenty-four hour surveillance. Emergency button. Fairly good facilities."

Womma: 33."Fairly clean, basic station. Good ramps. Large car park. "

Broadmeadows: 40. "Maintenance needed. Crime problems reported.''

Smithfield: 37."Damaged bins, Weed growth over north~west path. Twenty-four hour surveillance, Bike lockers.''

Munno Para: 22. "Very basic station. No Security. Isolated."

Kudia: 14. "Poor disabled access. No toilets. Isolated. Not well lit."

Tambelin: 30."Well lit platform. No security. Poor weather protection."

Evanston: 26."Poor wind protection. Broken glass."

Gawler: 47."Splendid during the day. Panic phone. Security camera. Good shelter.
Gawler Oval: 27. "Small, basic station. Rough approach to northern ramp."

Gawler Central: 38. "Public phone. Twenty-four hour surveillance. Tight crossing maze. Well patronised."