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Eyesore in heart of Leongatha

A HISTORICAL icon in the heart of Leongatha is being vandalised and left to decay as inaction over the redevelopment of the town’s former rail yards continues.

In a room of the disused Leongatha railway station, vandals have left human excrement, damaged floorboards and the ceiling, dumped food packaging and smashed windows, leaving glass scattered on the floor of the room and also the platform.

The vandals have also pulled sections of concrete off the platform and left them on the rails.

The station is not only a characteristic building in Leongatha but also serves as the town’s V/Line bus stop and the disgusting, unkempt site is the first impression visitors receive of the town when they step off the bus.

The new public toilet at the bus stop was not working last week, with travellers unable to open the door, leaving them stranded as the nearest public toilets are at Leongatha Memorial Hall – a reasonable walk away.

Overgrown weeds have taken over the bus stop and station precinct, and piles of bluestone have been dumped by South Gippsland Shire Council in the rail yards, right in the centre of town, despite a council sign in the vicinity stating the dumping of rubbish, concrete and asphalt is forbidden.

The state of the station and rail yards saddens public transport advocate Max Semken of Leongatha, who said, “There is no respect for people’s property anymore. That all comes to the point there is no respect from V/Line and VicTrack because otherwise they would not allow this to happen.”

Mr Semken said the condition of the rail precinct had been neglected by council.

“I don’t know what the local councillors are doing. They’re probably bashing each other up,” he said, referring to councillors being distracted from their core work by fighting amongst themselves.

In response to the human waste left in the station, Mr Semken said, “To do that is a blatant disgrace to this town.”

“You have got V/Line, VicTrack and the Department of Transport, and they should be checking on the station regularly and they’re not,” he said.

“It’s a disgrace for the centre of town for people to have to use a room at the station as a toilet.

“It belittles the town.”

Mr Semken also commented on the unsightliness of overhead electrical cables running from the station to the new toilet, labelling the work “sub-standard” and saying the cables should have been placed underground.

He also noted the bus shelter’s mesh walls and narrow roof exposed travellers to rain, and said the bus stop lacked a timetable for bus services travelling from Leongatha to Melbourne.

Mr Semken believed the station could be transformed into an entertainment complex, with an expanded platform and even a conference centre. He wants the old decommissioned toilets at the station removed and a modern, larger toilet block installed.

Mr Semken is worried vandals could set fire to the railway station, as has occurred in other towns, and Leongatha would lose the distinctive building forever.

Mr Semken has notified Eastern Victoria Region MLC Harriet Shing of the state of the station.

She said, “The situation at Leongatha Railway Station is unacceptable and I have asked the Minister for Public Transport to rectify it immediately.”

A VicTrack spokesperson said the government agency was “extremely concerned and disappointed” by the vandalism after undertaking maintenance works recently.

“We have secured the building and will carry out cleaning and repairs as soon as possible,” the spokesperson said.

The agency recently carried out repairs and maintenance on the station building, including fixing doors, cleaning and clearing weeds.

The agency is still talking to council about the Leongatha railway site transformation project and plans to construct a rail trail from Leongatha to Nyora.

The agency is also looking into options to lease the station building.

Maintenance arrangements for the new toilet at the station are being finalised and once in place, the toilet will open to the public.

A South Gippsland Shire Council spokesperson said council is waiting on the lease documentation from VicTrack and had been advised this was “imminent”.

“Council is saddened by the report of vandalism to the railway station building,” the spokesperson said.

Council will clean up the bluestone piles when the weather permits.

“It is going to be used to improve an intersection but it needs to dry out before it can be used on the road. Once the bluestone is removed, the site will no longer be used for this purpose,” the spokesperson said.

 

Fed up: Max Semken of Leongatha is appalled by vandalism at the disused Leongatha railway station, where human excrement has been left in the floor of an old room, windows smashed, and holes put in the floor and ceiling.

Offensive act: Max Semken of Leongatha points to where vandals have pulled concrete from the edge of the platform at the disused Leongatha railway station.

Short URL: https://thestar.com.au/?p=26588

Posted by on Nov 13 2018. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

2 Comments for “Eyesore in heart of Leongatha”

  1. The local council should not be wasting ratepayers money to build a rail trail. And more to the point there is a group who have put in an application to reinstate and get the railway up and operating again. It is Victrack property…no one elses, and the council should be fined for dumping on Victrack land. Also it should not be used for any other purpose unless the rails are ripped up and stations demolished altogether. It astounds me that when a railway gets closed how quick the vultures swoop in…….The level crossing in Leongatha a prime example. So to the Council, The Rail Trail vandals, Do gooders and developers……Keep ya filthy mits away from the railway corridoor !

  2. Hi Robbie. Would you like your comments to run as a letter to the editor too? If so, we just need your full name and town of residence for publication please.

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