Disability Discrimination Commissioner Graeme Innes, who is blind, has lodged more than 60 complaints about inaudible train announcements on the NSW network.
Mr Innes says vision-impaired people rely on the announcements because they cannot read information displayed on boards.
In the Federal Magistrates Court on Monday, lawyers for Mr Innes said RailCorp had failed to make audible announcements on 36 trips the commissioner took on the train network between March 28, 2011, and September 2, 2011.
The court heard most of the complaints related to trips made on older trains built in the 1980s and 1990s that did not have automated announcement systems.
Errors by guards and faulty mechanics on older trains were blamed for the inaudible messages.
In her opening address, counsel for Mr Innes, Kellie Edwards said RailCorp had discriminated against him by failing to make the announcements audible, despite having the ability to do so.
Ms Edwards said RailCorp ‘also had the capacity … to make next-stop announcements and simply failed in whole or in part in the 36 trips of which he complains’.
Mr Innes’ lawyer said visually impaired people suffered ‘unjustifiable hardship’ as a result of faulty audio systems and errors by guards.
However, RailCorp argued that it was not possible to run a perfect network.
Counsel for Railcorp said it would be ‘extremely costly’ to make station announcements audible on 98-100 per cent of journeys on the network.
The costs would likely run into ‘billions of dollars’ and would take ‘a significant period’ of time to implement.
RailCorp had already taken a range of measures to improve the audibility of station announcements, including more training for guards, counsel for the corporation said.
The hearing continues before Federal Magistrate Kenneth Raphael.