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Grand plans for Eveleigh - Heritage plans

OFF to one side of Australian Technology Park is a large shed that is not home to offices, or event venues or art galleries reports Central of 14 January 2009.

Instead, the large erecting shed hums with activity and is the only building being used for its original purpose - the construction and maintenance of locomotives and carriages.

Owned by RailCorp, the shed is home to 3801, a non-profit organisation that restores heritage trains and runs rural trips, and is also used for storage by the Powerhouse Museum.

Until recently, its future was uncertain, but RailCorp has now indicated that the building is to be retained; although 3801 is still waiting to hear how it will be used.

“RailCorp has said that it will retain the large erecting shed for heritage purposes,” 3801 director, Professor John Glastonbury said. “It’s good that the decision has been made.”

He said he was still uncertain of 3801’s future in the building but was unwilling to speculate. “Final decision about the ultimate use of the building are yet to be made and discussions are under way,” he said. “It’s one of the very few railway heritage buildings that are continuing to be used for the purposes for which they were designed.”

A RailCorp spokeswoman said that it was still “deliberating the specifics” of the shed’s future.

“The RailCorp Board recently endorsed a plan for RailCorp to retain the large erecting shop for rail heritage purposes, subject to final funding approval,” she said. “The envisaged uses of the large erecting shop include storage of some State-owned heritage rolling stock, related maintenance and training activities and the provision of a layover facility.”

Discussions with relevant rail heritage groups, including 3801 Limited and Historic Electric Traction, are under way, the spokeswoman said, adding that RailCorp sought to “maximise the use of the large erecting shop for rail heritage purposes”

3801 has worked out of the large erecting shed since 1985. Much of the restoration and maintenance work it carries out is done by volunteers and it runs regular scenic tours on its heritage rolling stock to Wollongong, along the Illawarra escarpment, as well as a popular annual trip to Parkes for the Elvis Festival.

Prof Glastonbury said that ensuring the public had access to rail heritage was important to 3801.

Photo: Professor John Glastonbury at Australian Technology Park.