The Board met twice this month starting with a special Board meeting on Tuesday 4 August, followed by its regular meeting on Tuesday 25 August — its fifth and sixth meetings for calendar year 2020.
The Board and I were delighted to welcome newly appointed Director, Andrea Plawutsky. Andrea replaces Leann Meiers who stepped down from the Board in August. Andrea brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in international and regional tourism to the Board.
The Board received an update from CEO, Andrew Moritz, as to the ongoing coronavirus situation, its impacts and consequences for THNSW. With the easing of restrictions, we recommenced limited operations at the NSW Rail Museum on weekends only from 4 July and pleasingly we welcomed some 2,187 visitors in this first month alone. From 19 September we are planning to recommence capacity limited Loop Line operations on weekends, under COVID-safe controls, as a way of further enhancing the experience for customers at the Museum.
As a registered COVID safe organisation, our operating environment is now quite different to what we’re all used to with strictly limited visitor and passenger numbers, along with the need for social distancing, additional cleaning regimes and wearing of face masks amongst many other changes.
Valley Heights Locomotive Depot Heritage Museum remains closed to the public at this time, however pleasingly behind the scenes, Valley Heights based volunteers have been back since July.
The Board, CEO and management team thank all volunteers, staff and members for embracing the new changes and arrangements. We all have a role to play to remain COVID-safe.
Please remember to consider both you and those around you or who you will come in contact with. If you are the slightest bit unwell in any way stay home and if you have any COVID-like symptoms, then get tested. If you are in a high-risk category the government’s advice is still that now is not the time for you to be volunteering.
Annual General Meeting 2020
The Board focussed on preparations for our forthcoming AGM 2020 in November. Eligible to vote members will have recently received a notice of election from the V/Company Secretary, Peter Watters, calling for nominations for election to the Board, along with a notice calling for life membership nominations. Please remember, life membership is the highest honour that we as an organisation can bestow on one of our extraordinary long-standing members.
This year's AGM will be held virtually, more details will follow.
Save the date – members’ information forum
In preparation for this year’s AGM being online, the Board will hold a virtual members’ information forum on the evening of Tuesday 6 October. This will provide members an opportunity to meet candidates standing for election to the Board, ahead of casting ballots.
More details to follow soon.
Loop Line update
Various Loop Line works are progressing with pace and the Board received an update on the current key pieces of work underway:
Maintenance work has progressed over the last few months with the replacement of thousands of track clips on the currently operated Picton – Buxton section of the line;
Robinson Rail has commenced work on the detailed engineering study to upgrade the line and we expect their work being completed by mid-October;
Detailed discussions with ARTC are underway regarding upgrading the points at Picton (Frame C); and
A presentation and draft report were received on the product development study for the Loop Line, which included input from members back in March. The report identifies a number of concepts that will be further considered once the findings of the engineering study are completed.
Thirlmere Festival of Steam
A strategic review of this annual event has been conducted in partnership with Wollondilly Shire Council and the Board was updated on the proposed arrangements for 2021’s event. Council will now take a lead role going forward as the result of a new strategic partnership between Council and THNSW, taking over from Rotary in organising the community aspects of the event. This will see a significant increase in investment into the event by local government, which is a tremendous achievement.
Membership and audience review
Members and customers will shortly be invited to participate in a survey regarding the membership program and other offers. This is an important opportunity to hear from our existing members and customers about what’s important (and not important) about being or becoming a member of THNSW. The results of the survey will help inform the future development of membership products and other offers, and how best to target membership to the various audiences THNSW aims to attract and retain into the future. Please take the time to complete the survey when you receive it.
Heritage Hub, Chullora
The Board and TfNSW recently endorsed the engagement of David Scobie Architects to progress phase one of the Heritage Hub project. Phase one focuses on the upgrading the Tank Annex for the long-term storage of heritage rolling stock
Work continues on preparing for the movement of the first items of rolling stock from Broadmeadow, expected to begin before the end of the year.
2020-21 Business Plan
I updated members as to the priorities for the first half of this financial year’s business plan (FY2020-21), following the May Board meeting — see previous Board Chair’s wrap.
As the coronavirus restrictions continue, we must adapt and not wait for things to return to the way they were or used to be. The Board will hold a workshop with the CEO and senior management team in October, looking at the various scenarios for us moving forward.
Finally, I hope everyone has enjoyed the recent edition of Roundhouse — our quarterly members’ magazine. The most recent edition celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the Western Endeavour, the first steam train to cross the Australian continent from east to west. A short video commemorating the event was also released on social media and other channels featuring interviews with some of our members who were involved in that epic journey from Sydney to Perth and return, back in 1970. Congratulations to all involved in these productions.
Until next time, stay safe and well and best wishes.