The Board held a regular meeting on Tuesday 27 October, its eighth meeting for calendar year 2020.
The Board received an update from CEO, Andrew Moritz on various initiatives currently underway across the organisation, particularly in relation to the corona-virus situation and its impacts on THNSW.
The NSW Rail Museum is open to the public on weekends only – tickets must be pre-booked. Steam train rides on the Loop Line are proving very popular, with every weekend almost ‘sold out’ (albeit with reduced capacity), since recommencing in September. Steam train rides will continue up until the last weekend of November provided there are no early total fire bans this year.
Meanwhile, the Valley Heights Locomotive Depot Heritage Museum will be open again to pre-booked ticket holders on Sunday 8 November and Sunday 6 December.
As restrictions slowly ease, our ‘COVID Safe’ plans will continue to be reviewed and revised, including adjusting capacity controls where appropriate. This will also include the recommencement of some main line heritage train operations in the near future.
The Board, CEO and management team thank all volunteers, staff and members for their patience as we continue to adjust to these arrangements. As restrictions ease, we cannot become complacent and must continue to follow the rules and revised operating procedures that have been put in place. We all have a role to play to remain ‘COVID Safe’.
Please remember, consider those around you or who you come in close 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 or an immediate household member are in a high-risk category the advice remains that now is not the time for you to be volunteering.
Loop Line upgrade
The Board received and discussed the preliminary report from Robinson Rail who were engaged to undertake an engineering feasibility study and prepare a detailed cost estimate to upgrade the Loop Line.
Further discussion will soon take place with project stakeholders, including Member for Wollondilly, Nathaniel Smith MP and Transport for NSW about the next steps with this project. This may include the potential to commence a package of early works on the current operational section of the line, between Picton and Buxton.
A further update will be provided as part of the members’ information forum following the AGM.
Locomotive 5711 tender on the move
As mentioned in the previous Board Wrap, the Board has decided not to return locomotive 5711 to operational service in the short to medium term, as originally proposed by some members. However, the Board did agree to progress a plan to restore, preserve, protect and display 5711 whilst not doing anything which would prevent operation, should a future Board decide to reconsider it.
To ensure meaningful progress in this direction, the Board is supporting the management team in accelerating the previously approved and funded project to restore the tender. You may recall, this project was scoped, funded and approved by the Independent Funding and Advisory Panel in 2016 and was being undertaken by our Valley Heights volunteers. With their agreement, the project will now be relocated to an undercover space at Chullora where additional resources are available to work with the Valley Heights team to complete the approved project.
The tender is expected to be completed and returned to display at Valley Heights as soon as possible in 2021.
Southern Aurora operation in 2021
The Board was briefed on continuing negotiations with Vintage Rail Journeys regarding planned operations involving the Southern Aurora in 2021.
Vintage Rail Journeys have an exciting program of operations planned which will see a regular program of charters operate with the Southern Aurora throughout NSW in 2021.
You can see more at: www.vintagerailjourneys.com.au
Membership and audience review
The Board receive a report from the membership review working group chair, Deanna Varga and reviewed the analysis and draft report of the membership and audience survey.
Over 460 members and 1,550 customers shared their thoughts and ideas about what’s important (and not important) about being, or becoming a member, of THNSW.
The results of the survey are being used to 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.
Deanna will provide a brief update on this project as part of the members’ information forum following the AGM on 28 November.
By now members will have received the Notice of Meeting for the AGM, which will be held online this year. Please see the details contained in the special eNews and also in the letter you have received from the Company Secretary, Peter Watters, for details about how to register to attend and/or lodge a proxy nomination and vote ahead of the meeting.
Full details, explanatory notes and the Board’s recommendation for each of the AGM agenda items, along with the THNSW 2019-20 Annual Report are now available on the THNSW website: www.thnsw.com.au/agm2020.
Members’ information forum
Our first ever online members’ information forum was held on Tuesday 6 October and proved very popular with almost 100 members participating from all over NSW, Australia and even overseas. Many members commented they appreciated this format which made attendance a lot easier. Thank you to those members who participated.
A members’ information forum will follow the AGM on Saturday 28 November. To attend the forum, as well as the AGM, please ensure you register at www.thnsw.com.au/agm2020
As we near the end of 2020, I am already looking forward to 2021 and seeing a renewed level of activity. We will be working hard throughout next year to re-engage with our customers and the broader community, following what has been a truly unprecedented year. We will also build on and continue those important projects behind the scenes which not only support our responsibilities to care for the collection, but enhance the visitor and customer experience, including improvements to our passenger carriages.
I look forward talking with members at our online AGM at the end of the month.