In this issue:


The 2023 Australasian Heritage Railway Conference is being presented by ATHRA and Puffing Billy Railway from 21-23 July at Puffing Billy’s Lakeside Conference Centre east of Melbourne.

We expect to announce the program and registration details in the next few days.

ATHRA Awards

We are pleased to report that 18 nominations were received. The judging team is actively reviewing the nominations. Winners will be announced during the Conference.


ATHRA is working to streamline its training management, remove roadblocks and improve tracking of assessment applications and records management.


ATHRA is assisting members with three types of insurance

  • Public Liability insurance (PLI) – In the last 12 months, the overall increase in premiums is well below the average of other premiums which have risen 15-25%.
  • Voluntary Workers Insurance :-20 groups have taken up the offer, 5 renewing from the previous year
  • Association Liability Insurance (Director’s Liability Insurance): 15 groups have taken up the offer,  4 groups renewed their policies

To date ATHRA has saved T&H groups nearly $300K in premiums.

Coal Working Group (CWG)

The coal working group considered the latest survey data and identified that the consumption of coal by Australian heritage groups was 2200 tonnes. The survey indicated that most heritage rail groups in Australia are still paying pre Ukraine invasion coal prices. This has protected many of the organizations from a significant increase in the coal costs being experienced in other countries such as the UK.

Safety and Accreditation​

ONRSR Reporting Portal

Changes occurred this year to the ONRSR portal in the areas of occurrence reporting:

  • The chain-of-event diagram and event details are now contained on the same page.
  • The train speed is no longer mandatory for Near Hits.
  • The train speed for Derailments is now only mandatory for Rolling Stock Operators.
  • The Conflict Point and Distance to Conflict Point for Proceed Authority Exceedances are now only mandatory for Rail Infrastructure Managers.
  • It is now mandatory to provide injury details for at least one person under the Fatality/Serious Injury category.
  • Operators will no longer be able to create multiple occurrence reports with the same reference number.
  • Category C – A landing page with tile view has been provided to allow operators to view/action items in accordance with the reporting timeframes.
  • Category C – The reporting page has been restructured to enhance the user interface.
  • Category C – The ability to amend and re-submit a previously submitted report has been introduced.

Regulatory National Transport Commission (NTC)

An email was distributed to rail operators on 20 February 2023 with regard to changes of the RSNL to the effect of requiring the installation of In-cab audio and video recording equipment. This matter was discussed at length at the NTC Rail Safety National Law Maintenance Group in 2022, including with union input. ATHRA supported the proposal on the basis that T&H equipment/ operators were excluded.

Incident Investigation as required under the Rail Safety National Law

The ATHRA Board is investigating providing a service where it provides a “third party” incident investigation of an incident that falls under Rail Safety National Law.

The service would be provided on a “user pays, no profit” cost recovery basis, using an “open book” methodology.

If you have any questions or comments, please contact

State reports


The Canberra Rail Museum has completed a successful tourist season operated by the Picnic Train.


The quarterly ATHRA NSW members meeting was held in May. News from members includes:

Oberon Tarana Heritage Railway (OTHR)

OTHR reports that most tracklaying from Oberon to Hazelgrove is complete…certification is the next step

Zig Zag Railway

Following a decade of closure, the Zig Zag Railway has been rebuilt and received full accreditation to carry passengers and will reopen once again on 27 May.


Chris Le Marshall is coordinating regular state catch ups. If you are not receiving invitations, please contact Chris at

The group plans a face to face catch up at the Bundaberg Australian Sugar Cane Railway on the second weekend in August – Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th August

Members discussed the trend for owners to travel with their dogs on Queensland heritage trains, similar to Puffing Billy in Victoria.

The Mary Valley Rattler has seen increasing numbers of bike riders taking the train one way and cycling the other.


Pichi Richi Railway 50th anniversary

One of Australia’s most loved heritage railways is steaming up and preparing to celebrate its 50th Anniversary. Operated totally by volunteers, who are committed to the conservation, restoration, maintenance and running the authentic heritage Pichi Richi Railway.

Half a century ago, on July 22, 1973, at a public meeting in Port Augusta’s Cooinda Hall, Pichi Richi Railway Preservation Society was established with the objectives of preserving the historic dry-stone walls and the railway bridges along the original 1800s railway, which includes a section of the original Ghan line.

Over the past 50 years the PRR in Quorn has become a key tourist destination in the Flinders Ranges of South Australia and in 2021 Pichi Richi Railway was awarded the Winner of the SA Tourism Award for Tourist Attraction.


Steamranger has been concrete re-sleepering with part of their main line.


Negotiations between Tasmanian Tourist and Heritage operators and the state government has seen the government agree to carry out an assessment of the appropriate level of insurance cover that is suited to the Tasmanian network. The process, at government cost, to resolve this long-standing problem is hoped to be completed by end of July.

Don River Railway is still cleaning up following the fire of early April that destroyed the carriage carpenters’ shop and two unique carriages.


Monthly  ATHRA Presidents meetings are held through Railway and Tramway Heritage Victoria. (RTHV). Key topics being addressed by RTHV include:

  • Allocation of rollingstock incl. gifting of VLine classic fleet vehicles
  • Victrack Leases of land and infrastructure
  • Environmental — testing and baseline environmental and biodiversity assessments of T&H sites by Victrack
  • Materials— facilitating reuse of rails, concrete sleepers, and contaminated ballast.
    • A large ballast cleaning plant was installed, and contaminated ballast cleaned to EPA specification by an LXRA project for Yarra Valley Railway
    • Used rail has gone to Bellarine Peninsula Railway
    • Concrete sleepers have been distributed to Mornington, Steamrail, 707, DSCR, VGR and YVR
    • RTHV is chasing and coordinating reuse of materials from mainline renewal projects that are still scrapping much valuable material that should be going to the T&H sector


Rail Heritage WA ran a successful model railway exhibition and open day, titled Models and Machines at Bassendean on Sunday April 2nd.

Rail Heritage WA, Hotham Valley Railway and Bennett Brook have all commenced their steam season for the year.