THE historic signal box that greets passengers turning up in Bendigo by rail from Melbourne is deteriorating through neglect.
“It’s an eyesore,” former station master Peter McDonnell said this week.
“When you come in to Bendigo on the train, it’s the first thing you see and it needs to be restored.”
Mr McDonnell said many staff and former staff are concerned about the small building which they believe is the largest intact signal box on the line.
While Kyneton has a restored signal box, and last month VicTrack announced a budget of $100,000 to restore a signal box in Ballarat “to its former glory”, Mr McDonnell said they have been told repair works in Bendigo are too expensive.
“We do know that some of the instruments were stolen some time ago, and now it needs new roofwork and painting.
“The problem is that it sits in the middle of nowhere, in terms of VicTrack, with V/Line all round it.
“VicTrack has a massive restoration fund, that’s what they do, but they’ve just ignored this one.
“It’s the most important signal box on this line.”
VicTrack said the signal box is the responsibility of V/Line which, as regional rail operator, has the lease.
V/Line is therefore “responsible for managing the assets and delivering services”.
A V/Line spokesman said they are discussing the future of the signal box with VicTrack and Public Transport Victoria.
“At the moment as the box is not part of operational infrastructure any funding to restore it falls outside the current budget allocation,” he said.
“There are many historic pieces of infrastructure across Victoria. While it would be great to be able to upgrade them all, budgetary limitations mean this is not always possible.”
Mr McDonnell said V/Line could manage the historic building as a public asset.
“It’s only a matter of someone putting on a vest and letting people through it,” he said.“All the staff are enthusiasts and they want someone to do something about it.”