Last week wasn’t the first time Matt Wall ended up trapped on the train.
Mr Wall, who has spina bifida and has been in a wheelchair for most of his life, catches the train from Corrimal to Wollongong for work five days a week.
He relies on station staff to help him board trains, so he is concerned that the Opal card may see staffing levels cut.
Which will leave him more likely to be stuck on a train with no way out.
Mr Wall said he’s seen the changes on Wollongong station. He said, where there were once enough staff to man both platforms, there are times when he arrives on a platform and no one is around to help him on.
“Last week I was catching the train from Wollongong home to Corrimal,” he said.
“I went over to the side you’ve got to catch it to go back and there was no-one there. This was at 5.10 in the afternoon.
“I had to call the station and say I was on the platform but I couldn’t get through to anyone.
“In the end I had to rely on the guard to get me on the train.”
Mr Wall also had to rely on the guard to help him off the train too, which didn’t go quite so well.
“He asked me where I was going and I told him ‘Corrimal’,” Mr Wall said.
“Then he actually forgot about me. When the train got to Corrimal, the doors started closing and I had to actually put my hand out the door to tell him I was still on the train.”
Making train guards responsible for assisting disabled people doesn’t seem realistic to Mr Wall.
“That’s not a workable solution, in my opinion, because I’ve been caught on the train three times in the last five years,” he said.
A NSW TrainLink spokesman said staff numbers at Illawarra stations “has not changed with the introduction of the Opal card”.
The spokesman did not comment on whether guards should be required to assist disabled passengers.
“Staff are available at accessible stations to assist customers who require boarding ramps to access intercity train services in the Illawarra,” he said.