Railways were once a dominant political and economic force in developing Australia, enabling the agricultural and industrial development of the country, the growth of our major cities and providing the birthplace of many country communities by their strategic placement and the need for services.

The evolution of the Australian transport system over the last 70 years has seen the importance of rail shift from being the primary mode of transport to one of being one of a number of well-developed transport modes. With the shift in importance the cultural heritage of our rail history has increased.

Heritage railways provide a means of preserving, educating and demonstrating rail’s cultural and historic significance to today’s society. They form the largest number of vertically integrated accredited railway organisations (AROs) and account for over one third of all AROs. The heritage rail sector also provides significant economic benefits to Australia through employment, tourism and expenditure and the intangible benefits of volunteering. Today, these organisations are for many people the public face of the rail industry which transports the nation’s freight and passengers.

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