Fancy having a coffee above the railway lines of the city? Or seeing an artist at work while trainspotting the 2:21pm to Melbourne? Perhaps watching Ballarat’s White Night projected across the railway precinct from on high?
Theses are some of the suggested uses for the derelict and obsolete railway signal boxes on the Ballarat line.
A meeting of nearly 50 concerned community members met at the Provincial Hotel on Thursday night to hear proposals for the restoration and use of the historic signal boxes.
Chaired by Councillor Sam McIntosh, the meeting heard from several speakers with knowledge about and interest in the heritage-listed signal boxes, which controlled the railway gates and track changes in the days prior to automation.
VLine’s Peter Gibson gave the meeting an outline of the ownership and maintenance programs of the boxes, and the ongoing problem of deterring vandalism and graffiti.
“Sadly with an operating railway we provide people with the missiles to throw through the windows; the ballast holds the track together and sadly that’s what people pick up and throw,” said Mr Gibson.
Mr Gibson confirmed that VLine is working on the immediate restoration of the boxes, readying them for return to VicTrack’s control.
“VLine has confirmed they've committed to do bring up the Lydiard St Signal Box to a standard, so we can hand it back to VicTrack. VLine has already had a builder there and some quotes have been provided,” said Mr Gibson.
Arts groups and history associations were well represented, as was the Ballarat Residents and Ratepayers Association, who suggested the Victorian Railways Museum might move to the Ballarat railway precinct.
Jonathan Halls of the BRRA said he had spoken to the museum director and they would consider Ballarat railway station the most attractive location for the Victorian Railway Museum.
Local artist Peter Sparkman said it was disappointing to see the disrepair the boxes had fallen into so rapidly, and he looked forward to them being secured.
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