|The Office of Rail Heritage Report (continued)
1) Heritage Asset Management Strategy
RailCorp has the largest number of heritage assets to manage of any NSW Government agency. It is a challenging task and ORH has led a strategic approach including:
- The review and updating of the Heritage Register to account for all assets (over 550 register entries, with individual assets numbering over 1300) and development of a Thematic History of the NSW Railways. This work won the 2010 National Trust NSW Award, Corporate / Government Category - Development.
- Senior Management Committee oversight of collaborative initiatives to progressively integrate heritage management into RailCorp's project, maintenance and environment systems.
- The provision of advice, tools and templates and education sessions to actively promote conservation and improve heritage management.
This strategic approach is getting results such as reduced turnaround time for Heritage Branch approvals due to improved quality of submissions by RailCorp. On 10 May 2013 the Minister for Heritage, approved a range of agency-specific exemptions, allowing RailCorp to now conduct particular minor works to listed buildings reflecting confidence in RailCorp's heritage management.
2) Management of Heritage Assets by volunteer based organisations
In 2006 Cabinet endorsed a strategy for the sustainable management of a specific heritage portfolio whereby ORH would build on the proud tradition of conservation by volunteer based groups throughout NSW. ORH now has Custody Management Agreements with twelve organisations. This allows funding support for planned conservation projects involving assigned State owned buildings, rolling stock and objects. Through operation and display at sites across NSW these groups are ensuring public access to over 150 years of railway history.
Rail Heritage Care Program
The National Trust (NSW) award winning 'Rail Heritage Care Program', which ran 2009 to 2011 involved a partnership with Conservation Volunteers Australia. The objective was to bring new volunteers in to provide support to the rail heritage groups caring for the State's assets and to develop relevant skills and expertise. Over 2400 volunteer days were undertaken, completing a wide range of improvement works including general maintenance, restoration and the cataloguing of over 15,000 heritage objects. Over 20 positive media stories were generated across NSW.
Click on the images to enlarge
Heritage Restoration Program
RailCorp's Apprentice Heritage Restoration Program brings together apprentices and skilled volunteers to restore selected objects and rollingstock. Benefits to date include transfer of heritage skills and techniques, trade multi-skilling, quality conservation outcomes and operational / display of restored items for the public to experience at sites / station museums managed by rail heritage groups. The FP1 Pay Bus and the Powder Van restoration won NSW National Trust (NSW) Awards in 2010 and 2012.
Building Volunteering & Knowledge:
Forums convened three times a year for the volunteer representatives of groups assisting in the conservation of RailCorp's rail heritage collection. Relevant topics ranging from online marketing opportunities to rail and heritage legislative requirements have been covered and groups from disparate parts of the State have taken advantage of opportunities from an expanded network.
Since 2006 annual Volunteers Awards have been presented in a range of categories to recognise the significant contribution that volunteers make towards the upkeep of NSW's rail heritage.
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.
Trainworks - the newest and biggest train experience:
RailCorp commenced a major upgrade of the rail heritage precinct at Thirlmere in 2007 in partnership with the NSW Rail Transport Museum which has conserved and operated State owned heritage rolling stock on this site since 1974. Trainworks showcases RailCorp's rail heritage collection through the most comprehensive interpretive display and experience of railway history in Australia. The upgraded and rebranded site was launched by the Governor of NSW, Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir AC CVO, in March 2011.
This modern, multipurpose site has wide appeal - as highlighted by these statistics:
- Over 78,000 visitors have experienced Trainworks
- 'Day out with Thomas' events have enticed over 25,000 enthusiastic Thomas the Tank Engine fans
- 1,800 students have visited on school excursions
- 3,800 group visits (including coach tours and heritage car clubs)
- 161,405 website visits to date since November 2011 (104,389 unique hits)
- 2065 Facebook 'Likes', extending to a web of 540,138 Friends of Friends
- Regularly being featured in print publications - including The Weekend Australian, Fairfax Traveller, Wheels Magazine, Qantas Magazine, Weekend Today + 2 AAP syndicate articles (15 outlets)
- Televised coverage on Sydney Weekender and seven live crosses for Channel 9's Weekend Today
- Trainworks has been recognised through the following awards:
- Winner - Tourism Business Excellence, Greater Sydney Tourism Awards 2012
- Runner up - Tourism Attraction, Greater Sydney Tourism Awards 2012
- Highly commended - Regeneration & New Development, National Trust NSW Awards 2012
- Highly Commended - Interpretation National Australia Awards for Excellence 2012
- Shortlisted - Institution, Interior Design Excellence Awards 2012
- Finalist - New Tourism Development, NSW tourism Awards 2011
- Finalist - Regional Development, Australian Institute of Project Management 2011
- Finalist - Environment and Rail Heritage Division, Engineers Australia 2011
Public Programs - telling the NSW railway story
ORH has made targeted investments in programs and events with the aim of growing public engagement in rail heritage. They include:
Exhibitions: seven free exhibitions and travelling displays have promoted a range of different rail stories at Central Station's Rail Heritage Central. They range from the award winning 'Cash on Track' story of the Pay Bus and its restoration by RailCorp apprentices, to the most recent exhibition 'The Glamour and the Gauge' which celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Southern Aurora's first journey between Sydney and Melbourne.
Interpretation Program: An interpretation plan is nearing completion in collaboration with Trainworks Limited and NSW RTM. It will guide the next stage experiences and exhibitions at Trainworks.
Education Program: Launching in May 2013, the first Education program will be based at Trainworks and progressively rolled out to other custodians operating museums at stations in other parts of NSW. With the assistance of the Powerhouse Museum, rail heritage themes have been aligned, through teacher and student friendly material, to the national curriculum for Primary Schools.
In collaboration with rail heritage museums / groups various experiences are regularly offered at Central Station including:
Central Stations - Ghost Platforms & Tunnel Tours: held every two years as part of the Historic Houses Trusts 'Sydney Open' architectural event. Tours guides provided by the Australian Railway Historical Society NSW, these ticketed tours sell out in record time every year!
Sydney Great Train Expo
Held on the June long weekend every year, involving steam hauled train rides, current trains and a display of heritage rolling stock. RailCorp provides operational planning and support to NSW RTM's Heritage Express to deliver this event.
Making Resources Available Online
The www.nswrailheritage.com.au website was established with the Australian Railway Historical Society (NSW) to ensure information is readily accessible to the rail heritage community. A news and events page shares details on training, events, grant opportunities and exhibitions. The website also contains a number of resources including:
Section 170 Heritage and Conservation Register:
Under Section 170 of the NSW Heritage Act 1977, all state government agencies must keep and administer a database of heritage assets called a 'Section 170 Heritage and Conservation Register'. RailCorp's Register was comprehensively reviewed and updated in 2009. It contains 374 fixed asset railway groups or items and seven heritage precincts and over 3,200 moveable items. For each item / group the Register contains a description of what is included within the listing, information about its history, photographs, and a 'statement of heritage significance' which explains the key heritage values of the item. RailCorp's S170 Register is available online:
RailCorp also has 182 items listed on the State Heritage Register, which is managed by the NSW Heritage Council. Most listings are station groups / complexes containing a number of buildings/structures.
Thematic History of NSW Railways:
Providing a broad overview of the development of the NSW railways, the key purpose of this thematic history is to place a particular heritage place or item within the broader historical development of the NSW railway network.
Railway Conservation Guides: Range of resources developed to provide technical and practical information on the conservation of railway structures; topics include fences, gardens and painting, with easy access, platforms and platform furnishings, general maintenance, railway bridges and case studies of skills transfer. and a register of specialist skills. Developed with funding assistance from the NSW Heritage Council Heritage Grants Program, the guides can be accessed here: