South side: Initial works to open the blocked crossing should begin next month or in July. Photo: EDWINA WILLIAMS

New system to replace heritage gates

May 13, 2021 BY

IN their 2021-2022 budget, the State Government has allocated ten-and-a-half million dollars to developing a solution to the Lydiard Street railway gates issue.

The Department of Transport and V/Line will work to fully solve the problem by mid-2022, designing and installing an upgraded rail-crossing system, but that solution will not include the heritage gates or their 19th century engineering in an operational capacity.

Minister for Public Transport Ben Carroll said Spring Street has heard the city’s “frustration, loud and clear.”

A temporary “half boom gate… manual-operated type system” is expected to be working by September or October this year, so Lydiard Street can open to road traffic.

“While that temporary solution is in place, we will then transform and upgrade… to a more contemporary and automated system, that will bring Lydiard Street in line with every other signalling system that we have throughout our state,” he said.

“An automated system will ensure cars are at Lydiard Street for less [time] because the system will be more automated and sophisticated… and fit-for-purpose for the next 100 years.”

Mr Carroll said safety needs to come first, but the Department is mindful of the significant heritage value of the old gates’ 1860s style and design, and how fond the community is of them.

“We have engaged heritage consultants, and I have spoken directly with Minister Wynne in charge of Heritage Victoria,” Mr Carroll said.

“We want to get on with the job of making sure the historical gates, that are such an important part of the cultural and social fabric of Ballarat, remain in the precinct and feel incorporated, so the community can still pay homage to that unique system that’s operated here for so long.”

Transport Services Victoria’s Nick Foa said the heritage gates will be featured in a “respectful way.”