On track for the future
The Rail Heritage network consists of a diverse range of community based, volunteer-based heritage organisations across New South Wales working with RailCorp’s Office of Rail Heritage. These organisations bring an amazing array of skills and experience to conserving and celebrating the State owned railway heritage collection and our unique and extensive railway history.
ORH, in partnership with the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, sponsored three individuals to undertake a research program to enhance their knowledge and skills to support the conservation of NSW’s rail heritage. They are:
- Ms Jennifer Edmonds, who studied methods and techniques of steam locomotive maintenance.
- Mr Peter Anderson, who undertook research on the development of reference materials to better enable volunteer-run rail heritage operators to comply with rail safety legislation in NSW.
- Mr Kevin Kitchen, who investigated a risk based life-cycle approach to the maintenance and management of rail assets within the heritage rail industry.
All three are actively involved or working with the rail heritage groups caring for RailCorp’s assets.
Improving the Assets
Providing both funding and advice for necessary conservation works, ORH has upgraded key sites including:
- Refurbishing the ‘Igloo’ building at Chullora railway workshops to securely house the heritage collection of small objects
- Major repairs to the State Heritage listed Broadmeadow Roundhouse to provide a repository for heritage rolling stock not yet assigned to a heritage group
- Large Erecting Shop at South Eveleigh: having successfully made the case to retain this building for rail heritage purposes, significant repairs and maintenance works are progressing in stages. While in part deployed as the operational base for 3801 Limited, the aim is to provide storage for the electric heritage fleet and reprovisioning facilities for other heritage operators as needed.
- Significant hazmat works have been completed at Finley and Werris Creek station precincts, have recently commenced at Tenterfield and are planned for Cooma. At Werris Creek’s Rail Journeys Museum, in conjunction with a Liverpool Plains Shire Council initiative to install a disable lift, this will double the floor space available for museum activities.
- At Valley Heights a new 70m retaining wall (along the failing embankment) will be constructed as a matter of priority to prevent potential injury to visitors and safeguard the nearby heritage listed Round House, in time for the Centenary celebrations in early 2014.
Heritage Rollingstock & Objects:
Through the challenging journey of accounting for RailCorp’s heritage rollingstock a core collection of 245 items has been identified, the subsequent disposal of over 50 duplicate or poor condition items. 201 items of rollingstock are in the care of seven custodians and 44 items are in storage.
As part of the significant upgrade of the Rail Heritage Centre at Thirlmere (launched as Trainworks), over fifty items earmarked for display received care and attention. This included prominent display items loco 1803 (also known by younger rail fans as ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’), locomotive 1021, the loco instruction car, the steam crane and 6040. The numerous hours applied by NSW Rail Transport Museum volunteers to these projects is a microcosm of the conservation achievements of this 50 year old organisation.
There is an ongoing commitment to the overhaul of Locomotive 3801 and its return to operation despite the frustrations arising from the necessary rectification of the new boiler and the associated delays and speculation. While the boiler is due back in Sydney from Germany later this year the extensive mechanical overhaul at RailCorp’s Chullora workshops is well advanced, managed by the NSWRTM and involving a skilled group of volunteers.
The small objects in RailCorp’s moveable collection have been comprehensively reviewed with many objects being allocated to custodians and to Trainworks to help tell the rail story. The rest of the collection has been relocated to the Igloo at Chullora apart from some objects earmarked for disposal.
Archival material continues to be allocated to the Australian Railway Historical Society (NSW) Division. The ARHS NSW Railway Resource Centre continues to be a key rail heritage partner having extensive archival materials which their trained volunteers draw on to meet research requests from many quarters.