The Board held a regular meeting on Tuesday 29 September, its seventh meeting for calendar year 2020.
The Board received an update from CEO, Andrew Moritz, as to the ongoing coronavirus situation, its impacts and consequences for THNSW.
The NSW Rail Museum remains open to the public on weekends only at present. With the commencement, under COVID-safe controls, of capacity limited Loop Line operations from 19 September, we’ve seen an increasing number of visitors returning to the Museum for steam train rides. The Valley Heights Locomotive Depot Heritage Museum conducted a trial open day for members only, to test their COVID Safe plan, on 26 September and anticipates reopening to the public on Sunday 11 October.
Following the NSW government guidelines 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.
The Board, CEO and management team thank all volunteers, staff and members for embracing the new changes and 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 COVIDsafe.
Please remember to 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 are in a high-risk category the government’s advice is still that now is not the time for you to be volunteering.
The Board focussed on preparations for our forthcoming AGM 2020 in November. This year’s AGM will be held virtually, our first eAGM, more details will follow later in October.
Following the call for nominations for election to the Board, I can advise we have received one nomination, Alex Claassens, for the one available position on the Board and thus there will be no requirement for a Ballot this year. Alex will be declared appointed for a three-year term at the AGM.
The Auditor, Wayne Price from Castleton’s, joined the meeting to discuss the draft annual audited accounts for FY 2019/20. The Board subsequently endorsed the audited accounts for presentation to members. These will now be incorporated into the Annual Report for FY 2019/20 and will be available to members on the THNSW website by the end of October. Pleasingly we ended the financial year with a small surplus, however the financial impacts of the coronavirus restrictions and reduction in our activities are evident in our financial accounts.
The Board also considered procedural items for the AGM, including the appointment of an independent returning officer, recommendations for appointment of auditors and deaccessioning of THNSW owned collection items, the arrangements for questions on notice and potential administrative changes to the THNSW Constitution to clarify the capacity and arrangements for electronic or virtual meetings in the future.
Full details, explanatory notes and the Board’s recommendation for each of these items will be available as part of the AGM meeting papers, on the THNSW website from 23 October to enable members to make an informed decision before voting. The Annual Report will be available on the same page by 30 October.
Members’ information forum (MIF)
In preparation for this year’s AGM being online, the Board held a virtual members’ information forum on the evening of Tuesday 6 October to give members and the Board the opportunity to become familiar with the technology and format. With over 100 members from all over NSW, Australia and overseas registered to participate in the eMIF, this format is clearly appreciated by many members not ordinarily able to attend a physical meeting.
Replacement of retaining wall at Valley Heights
The Board approved entering into a construction contract for replacement of the remainder of the retaining wall at the Valley Heights Locomotive Depot Heritage Museum. This work was approved by the Independent Funding and Advisory Panel (IFAP) and is being funded from Stream 2.
Finance, Risk & Audit Committee
On the recommendation of the Chair of the Committee, Deanna Varga and the CEO, the Board approved a revised terms of reference and new name for this important Committee – previously known as the Finance, Audit & Risk Committee. This change reflects a greater emphasis for the work of the committee on business risk, as distinct from safety risk — which is addressed by the Safety and Environment Committee. The Committee will be reviewing our Business Risk Register and also developing a formal risk appetite statement over the coming months. The updated terms of reference for the Committee can be found in the Governance section of the 'who we are' page.
The Board congratulates all those involved in the recent program of proving trials and training which saw locomotive 3801 travel between Thirlmere and either Moss Vale or Goulburn on a daily basis for six-days straight. The operation attracted interest from the public who lined stations and parts of the track to see the locomotive pass by. Over 42 people were involved during the week, logging over 93 shifts totalling 749 hours of work. The locomotive travelled over 1440 km hauling a 422-tonne load to passenger running times. We look forward to being able to operate the locomotive, when COVID-19 restrictions allow, for the enjoyment of the public.
The Board considered the potential for returning locomotive 5711 to operational service as part of the THNSW operational fleet.
The Board concluded that, whilst it is possible, now is not the right time and there are other organisational priorities for the available funding, and thus it does not intend to fund or progress a return to operational service of locomotive 5711 in the short to medium term.
The Board supported the development of a three-year plan to restore, preserve, protect and display 5711, noting that such a plan should not preclude a return to operational service in the longer term. The plan, to be developed, will need to include consideration of the available resources, and the appropriate location for the work to be undertaken. The plan will then need to be further considered and approved by the Board. Funding will need to be secured before any restoration work can commence.
Membership and audience review
Thank you to everyone who responded to the survey regarding the membership program and other offers. Over 460 members and 1,550 customers have 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 now being analysed and 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. Board Director, Deanna Varga provided a brief update on this project as part of the eMIF.
For your information, we currently have 1,805 members.
Chullora Heritage Hub
The Board congratulated everyone involved in the relocation of BAM 1 from Broadmeadow to Chullora by road. This is the first item of rolling stock to be relocated to Chullora and although not in its final location – the Tank Annex, as that is not yet ready, it was an important test and trial for the movement of those items of rolling stock that will need to be transported by road.
Further work continues on preparing for the movement of other items of rolling stock from Broadmeadow by rail and road, expected to begin before the end of the year.
2020 Transport Heritage Grants Program
The Board was advised the IFAP has endorsed the recommendations of the assessment panel for this year’s Transport Heritage Grants Program. A total of 33 applications requesting funding totalling $600,000 were received – a record for the program. The successful recipients of this year’s Transport Heritage grants will be announced later next month.
2020-21 Business Plan
The Board agreed to defer the workshop with the CEO and senior management team planned for October, looking at the various scenarios for us moving forward, until
later in the year. Meanwhile, the focus remains on progressing our major projects, loop line upgrade and Heritage Hub and the further reopening of our museums and recommencing heritage train operations as the COVID-19 restrictions ease.