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In the article below Friends or Eveleigh undertake an analysis of the O’Rourke report, what it says and what it implies about the future of the Large Erecting Shop at Eveleigh. The Friends of Eveleigh conclude that based on the O’Rourke report that Eveleigh is needed as a part of the Heritage Rail infrastructure for NSW.



It is now three months since the O'Rourke Report - the answer to all rail heritage problems was released. Did RailCorp get the wrong answers because to date the silence is deafening from The Minister, RailCorp end it’s Office of Rail Heritage.

The O'Rourke Report states “The Large Erecting Strop has not figured in the Advisory Group's recommendations” however a number of references were made and inspections carried out. Why? And was information supplied to the group a true account of the situation?

If you wish to view the full O'Rourke Report don't look on the RailCorp website, look on the Rail Transport Museum's website.

FOE has made a detailed assessment of the O'Rourke Report and this is our findings on statements regarding the Large Erecting Shop and those who occupy it, even though 'The Large Erecting Shop has not figured In the Advisory Group's recommendations.'

'The future of the Large Erecting Shop, is dependent upon the outcome of the strategic study underway to identify the RailCorp operating railway requirements for the whole of the South Eveleigh site. Any surplus lands will subsequently be vested to the Redfern Waterloo Authority, consistent with Governments policy.

'Large Erecting Shop base needs upgrading end does not have lifting (crane) capability.

The reference to “lifting (crane) capability" is inaccurate. There are at least 4 large overhead gantry cranes in place that were used in the restoration of 3830. RailCorp has used the building condition to eliminate any chance of licensing these cranes. Operators have stated that they are still willing to use these cranes.

It has always been FOE's view that the Large Erecting Shop at Eveleigh should be used as a working museum and a base for heritage restoration because of its equipment, its availability to skilled restorers and its access to tourist and rail tour departure points. Although the use of Eveleigh will never be considered by RailCorp or this Government because of their perceived view of structural faults with the building, It Is their failure and mismanagement of the maintenance of this heritage building that has caused these minor structural problems.

The O'Rourke report says “consideration needs to be given to accessing layover facilities in the metropolitan mainline network". Eveleigh is the only suitable place available.

“Volunteer and Staffing Challenges: There is a broader challenge of the rail heritage industry attracting and retaking volunteers in its own right and in competition with other not-for-profit causes ventures. RTM and 3801 Ltd have relatively static volunteer groups; again a more sophisticated approach to recruitment and retention of volunteers is integral to sustainable rail heritage operations in the future. A current feature of the rail heritage industry is the declining levels and ageing of staff with relevant skills and experience. There is an urgent need for the transfer of specific rail heritage related skills from older to younger staff.

What is the Office of Rail Heritage's answer? Remove from 3801 most of the luxury carriages painstakingly restored by 3801 Limited's volunteers and give them to the RTM. What is the future for all of 3801's skilled volunteers? Virtually all will be lost. Downgrading of staff numbers will also see RailCorp's own apprentice heritage training operations cease because 3801 Limited's maintenance staff over the past ten years has supplied this training for 8 RailCorp apprentices per year in a real heritage environment, the Large Erecting Shop at Eveleigh.

In summary: neither RTM nor 3801 Ltd have the capability or capacity to be sustainable in their own right into the future and alignment of Governments assets and investment will not be optimised for the benefit of the New South Wales public.

What the O'Rourke Report has failed to address is the fact that most of 3801 Limited's past and present staff and volunteers live in the west, south coast, northern beaches end north even beyond the Central Coast and they will not and can not get to a site over 100 kms from Eveleigh and an extra two hours travelling each way even if a rail service was available.


For a site that was not to be considered, much has been said, and it is quite evident that if Eveleigh goes - so will Rail Heritage in this State. Thirlmere cannot exist without a continual large input of taxpayers money. Sufficient funds cannot be generated to make them self funding. Lack of, not only volunteers, but railway skills will cause problems. It must be remembered that Eveleigh still has the steam skills, Eveleigh still has the carriage building skills and equipment, and those who turn a blind eye to Eveleigh are fooling themselves while destroying what little hope we have of saving anything for our children.

Yes Vince O'Rourke had the answer. The heritage groups must band together to survive but everything can not be at Thirlmere, not everything can be al Eveleigh - both are needed. This is the statement that could not be said because 'The Large Erecting Shop has not figured in the Advisory Group's recommendations".

The Minister for Transport has the power to keep The Large. He has done nothing. He said “Eveleigh was never suggested to me as a working museum site". The Minister has refused to inspect The Large and he has not inspected Thirlmere - does he know anything about Rail Heritage and who are his advisors? The $artor dollar and not the Minister for Transport is what Is running Rail Heritage.

The following are extracts from State Rails Annual Reports -

State Rail is the owner of the largest collection of heritage assets of any Government agency and is one of the leaders in heritage management. These asses include structures, disused (non-essential) infrastructure, rolling stock and track vehicles, machinery and equipment, antique furniture and clocks, artworks, small artefacts, historical records and archaeology. State Rail acknowledges its legal obligations towards its heritage and appreciates many of the assets am held in high regard by the public employees and former employees, preservation groups and historical societies. Any comments?

Source: Friends of Eveleigh