Even with funding to reopen Lydiard Street now locked in, questions remain on how to modernise Ballarat station.
Millions of dollars have been pumped into rejuvenating the train line and the area around the station, but the fundamentals - can an 1860s-era station appropriately support 2020s commuters - are yet to be addressed.
Anyone who cannot climb stairs is still forced to access other platforms by leaving the station entirely, meaning someone trying to get from the new car park on the northern side to the southern platform risks being stranded at the pedestrian crossing on Lydiard Street, and missing their train.
This problem will get worse when the local bus interchange, on the northern side, is completed by the end of the year.
The state's public transport system was originally supposed to be made fully Disability Discrimination Act-compliant by the end of 2022 - apart from some minor upgrades like tactile floor tiles, access remains a critical issue yet to be solved.
The new timetable, with about 60 services every day, is a boon for commuters, but means Lydiard Street will be closed far more often than people are used to, even with modern boom gates.
READ MORE: Why is reopening Lydiard Street so complex?
Heritage advocates have pointed out the regional bus interchange on the southern side must be moved before the end of 2022, as per the heritage permit granted in 2018, though the state government has noted there "is provision" for a new interchange in the future.
City of Ballarat mayor Daniel Moloney said last week he hoped there would be money allocated to solve the problem in this year's state budget, or at least before next year's state election.
"We hope the budget does consider other key concerns at the station, which is universal access by way of a tunnel or lift, because the current situation is just not adequate for people with a disability, or just an inability to go up the stairs," he said.
Public Transport Users Association Ballarat convenor Ben Lever said accessibility will "probably (be) the highest priority" going forward.
"This is something Geelong and Bendigo have had implemented in recent years, and it's long overdue to happen in Ballarat," he said in a statement.
"It'd no doubt be quite complex because of the heritage considerations, but that can't be an excuse to put it off - it definitely needs to happen, so we'd like to see the government announce it nice and early and allow the public to have meaningful input as those issues are worked through."
Traffic will hopefully be flowing through Lydiard Street with an interim solution in place soon, but plenty more work will need to be done to not only keep the station's heritage in place, but make it an accessible place for everyone.
BALLARAT REACTS TO BOOM GATES ANNOUNCEMENT
While heritage advocates have reacted with shock at the decision to replace the heritage-style swing gates on Lydiard Street, others are happy there's finally a decision at all.
Monday's announcement marked 345 days since the southern gates' destruction by a malfunctioning train, with the road closed ever since.
However, it will still be months before the street is fully reopened, or a permanent solution is put in place.
The Provincial Hotel, which sits right across from the gates, is one of several businesses which have been affected by the lack of action, or even answers on when there will be action.
Owner Simon Coghlan said it was "encouraging" to see some progress, but said a definitive timeline was urgently needed.
"Later this year can mean a lot of different things, it's been closed for long enough," he said.
"They've come to their senses and said an interim measure is required, but why it took 12 months is beyond me."
Commerce Ballarat moved into new Lydiard Street offices recently, and has previously stated its concerns about the gates closure and the effect on businesses nearby, and the impression on tourists.
Chief executive Jodie Gillett cautiously welcomed the boom gates announcement.
"It is pleasing to see the announcement today but this should have been many months ago," she said.
"To allow a main road to be closed for what will be around 18 months is just not good enough."
Save Our Station president Gerald Jenzen said he was "flabbergasted and dismayed" by the decision to reject reinstalling the heritage-style gates, particularly given the lack of action or clear responses in recent months.
"We've been lied to - they've had 12 months to do this and all of a sudden they have an answer," he said.
"If the government's made its mind up, the minister is likely to overrule anything Heritage Victoria says and decide in favour of VicTrack, that totally ignores the concerns of Ballarat people."
City of Ballarat councillor Samantha McIntosh, a staunch supporter of reinstalling the heritage-style gates, said
"Thank heavens there has been, eventually, a response to a short-term solution, and I look forward to a very respectful response for a long-term use of our heritage gates, and the right response for our heritage precinct," she said.
"Our community has been very loud and very strong in making sure that we, as a councillor group, understand the importance of those gates being fixed and being made operational."
Wendouree MP Juliana Addison said she has been advocating for a solution since "the Sunday morning after the train crash", and asked a constituent question to the minister in state parliament about the issue last week.
"My question was: 'Will the Minister please come to Ballarat to provide an update on what progress has been made and what still must be done to address the heritage and safety issues and the reopening of the road?'," she said in a statement.
"I have spoken weekly with the Minister's Office passing on local concerns and the impact the closure of Lydiard Street is having on local business and residents.
"I also speak directly to the Minister about the issue every sitting week in Parliament and have met with V/Line executives on four occasions, providing them with local feedback.
"I will continue to listen to and raise the concerns of stakeholders and constituents about the heritage and safety issues and advocate for the reopening of Lydiard Street."
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