Thursday, March 09, 2017

Heritage Trains Derailed by Eveleigh Makeover

Heritage train 3801 at Central Railway Station 
Heritage trains derailed by Eveleigh makeover


Sydney’s transport heritage is at risk as Transport for NSW threatens the survival of vintage train tour operator 3801 Ltd.

The not for profit organisation was locked out of their operational base in the Large Erecting Shop (LES) at Eveleigh Railway Yards on February 1.

This comes after the 2016 announcement by UrbanGrowth NSW that the Australian Technology Park (ATP) had been sold to real estate investment company Mirvac.

Mirvac plans to redevelop the site to build a technology hub, including a new Commonweath Bank headquarters.

There are concerns the LES will be destroyed as part of the re-development of the ATP.

A 3801 Ltd spokesperson said they haven’t been able to run their vintage train tours since they were locked out.

“All of our equipment, our carriages, our engines are still in the LES. We have nowhere to put them,” said the spokesperson.

A Transport for NSW spokesperson said they need 3801 Ltd to remove their assets to complete work required to make the LES a shared user facility.

“We are exploring options for the LES that would allow heritage organisations to use the facility for short term stabling and provisioning for tourist train trips operating out of Central and other metropolitan stations,” said the spokesperson.

“3801 Ltd would be welcome to use the facility under these terms however, the work required to the LES to make it a shared user facility cannot happen until 3801 Ltd’s assets are removed.”

The 2013 independent report, All Aboard! A Fresh Start for Transport Heritage in NSW, recommended the LES be made available to all rail heritage operators.

The 2013 report also marked the LES as a site for potential redevelopment.

The report stated it was an option for the LES to be divided into two parts, with one part being allocated to the running of trains and the other to tourism activities.

“The front could be available to any rail operator on a level playing field basis, for maintenance and restoration of engines and carriages of heritage significance; the back part, which backs on to the Australian Technology Park, could be developed into a little Ipswich, with miniature train rides, Creative Corners, rail displays, hands-on installations, and a cafeteria for Mum and Dad,” the report stated.

David Shoebridge, Greens MP and heritage spokesperson, said the entire site at Eveleigh should be protected.

“It should be seen as one site not sliced and diced to fit in cafes or development yield,” he said.

Mr Shoebridge said providing vintage locomotives access to the Eveleigh yards is essential in ensuring NSW rail heritage.

“That’s where many of these locomotives were built and or, have been maintained for decades and that connection is essential,” he said.

“There is an undeniable charm to historic railway carriages and historic locomotives. When you’re travelling in them you’ve taken this real step back into the past and you’re reliving it. It’s essential that we keep that.”

Local Greens MP, Jenny Leong has also jumped on board to address this issue by taking questions to NSW Parliament.

“We have raised questions with the Government because the Eveleigh site is an important part of our rail heritage. It should be maintained as a site with a strong connection to that history,” she said.

“It would be unacceptable if the Eveleigh site was redeveloped to suit the vested interests of big developers and corporate tenants, in a way that destroyed or diminished heritage assets and community access.

“The heritage of our local area should be preserved and promoted. Community groups taking an active interest in that heritage need to be supported, not tossed aside to make way for development.”

A Transport for NSW spokesperson said they’ve offered support to assist 3801 Ltd to relocate to another site.

“However, as with other private businesses, the overall responsibility for relocating to another site lies with 3801 Ltd,” the spokesperson said.

The 3801 Ltd spokesperson said Transport for NSW offered them another site to operate out of but said it didn’t meet safety standards.

“Transport Heritage said we could use number 7 road to run our trains out of. Now number 7 road is an open compound fenced outside the LES but there are no pits or anything there where you can work in safety or do repairs to the trains, such as train brakes and the authorised people to give certificate of fitness – so we had to decline that offer due to safety reasons” the spokesperson said.

“Our train runs out of Central Station, so you don’t want to go far away from central to run a train otherwise forget about it.”

Mr Shoebridge said the focus should be on putting trains on tracks.

“What really frustrates the public is where you have pointless organisation churn rather than sticking with a well respected organisation that puts trains on tracks and gets people out enjoying themselves. That should be the focus,” he said.

The Minister for Transport and Infrastructure is due to answer Jenny Leong’s questions on the 23rd March.

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