Fixing the trains: A fresh start for Rail Heritage

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Minister for Transport Gladys Berejiklian today announced the creation of a new not-for-profit company called Transport Heritage NSW, to…

Minister for Transport Gladys Berejiklian today announced the creation of a new not-for-profit company called Transport Heritage NSW, to realise for the first time the full potential of rail heritage in this state and to support the hardworking volunteers who dedicate so much time to it.

The reforms are based on recommendations from an independent review of rail heritage commissioned by the NSW Government.

The review found that despite rail heritage having an enormous capacity to contribute to tourism and regional development in NSW, it has been held back by poor governance, mismanagement, low morale and in-fighting.

"Setting up Transport Heritage NSW provides an opportunity for a fresh start and a co-operative approach to rail heritage in NSW," Ms Berejiklian said.

"The review found that in Victoria the popular rail heritage operator Puffing Billy is a popular tourist attraction that contributes $50 million a year to the state.

"But in NSW the review found there are many lost opportunities, and it is time to change the way rail heritage is managed to realise its full potential and boost the contribution it can make to NSW."

To progress the establishment of Transport Heritage NSW, Ms Berejiklian today announced the appointment of Peter Lowry OAM to lead a team to deliver this change.

All ten recommendations of the review are accepted, including;

  • the establishment of a new not-for-profit company, Transport Heritage NSW, to manage rail heritage in this state;
  • bringing together the NSW Rail Transport Museum, Trainworks and RailCorp’s Office of Rail Heritage into Transport Heritage NSW;
  • development of a plan to get the best possible public benefit of the underutilised rail heritage site at Eveleigh, and a new arrangement giving all rail heritage operators equal access to the site;
  • development of a plan for the Broadmeadow site; and
  • a renewed effort to recruit younger members.

Mr Lowry will also begin talks with all stakeholders to transition to the new organisation.

Ms Berejiklian encouraged the hardworking volunteers and members in rail heritage to work together on this transition to the new organisation.

"The current arrangements for heritage in NSW are simply not sustainable and I am looking forward to a fresh start for this important area," she said.

Ms Berejiklian also acknowledged the importance of the steam locomotive 3801, and said it would be a priority of Transport Heritage NSW to return it to service.

"The NSW Government is committed to locomotive 3801 operating again in NSW, and I have asked Peter Lowry to get the locomotive back on track as soon as possible."

Ms Berejiklian thanked the authors of the report, former Director General of the Internal Audit division of the United Nations Patricia Azarias, and two rail heritage experts from the UK, Lord Richard Faulkner and Andrew Scott.

"I also thank the members of the public, and all hardworking members and volunteers of the rail heritage organisations throughout the state who remain passionate about the industry and who provided input to the review," she said.

"Rail has a long and rich history in NSW and the NSW Government is committed to ensuring that important heritage assets are preserved and maintained for generations."