Who we are
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 Australian transport has seen the importance of rail shift from being the primary mode of transport to one of many well-developed transport modes.
Heritage railways provide a means of preserving, educating and demonstrating rail’s cultural and historic significance to today’s society. They account for over a third of accredited railway organisations. The heritage rail sector also provides significant economic benefits to Australia through employment, tourism and expenditure and the intangible benefits of volunteering.
For many people these organisations are now the public face of our national rail industry.
ATHRA Australia 2019 Board Group Photo – Melbourne (Vic.) © Corbin Pratt
Australia’s tourist and heritage railways have since their inception suffered from a parochialism that has seen a multitude of gauges, standards, policies and procedures.
The Association of Tourist and Heritage Rail Australia was incorporated in June 2004 as a National body that would represent the interests and needs of all Australian tourist and heritage rail organisations. Since that time, ATHRA Australia has served the industry by providing a united front for the sector by representation on behalf of its members to Government statutory bodies as well as contributing to Government regulatory reviews and legislation concerning rail and tram operations and safety, from the wealth of knowledge and experience of its members.
In 2017, ATHRA Australia was restructured with a new purpose to truly represent and deliver real benefits to our members – the grass roots individual Tourist and Heritage rail operators. Critical issues being addressed include establishing affordable industry based training and assessment regimen for the multitude of skills needed to safely operate railways, affordable public liability insurance, accreditation support and representation of the tourist and heritage rail sectors to the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator (ONRSR) and the Rail Industry Safety and Standards Board (RISSB). The ATHRA Australia management board draws on a representative from each of the states and seconded specialist members to bring together considerable skills and experience for the benefit of the sector.
The heritage of railways connects people to the days of strong communities and the importance of rail heritage has been recognised by the Tourist and Heritage Rail Sector being the largest volunteer sector looking after technically complicated equipment and infrastructure.
A primary ethos of the sector is to keep our heritage alive by the operation of heritage trains — no mean feat in today’s regulatory world. Across Australia the economic impact of the tourist and heritage rail sector was estimated a number of years ago to be in excess of $370 million.
ATHRA Australia is a member of the Australasian Railway Association ARA) which represents the whole rail sector.
ATHRA Australia is a member of The World Alliance of Tourist Trams and Trains.
To be advised
Grant Robinson (NSW)
Peter Silva (Vic)
Steve Strangward (Vic)
Peter Anderson (NSW)
Director of Safety and Regulatory Matters
To be advised
Director of Training and Competency
To be advised
Director of Member Operations
State Board Members 2023-2024
Peter Semczuk OAM
ACT territory representative
NSW state representative
Victorian state representative
Wendy Driver OAM
Qld state representative
SA state representative
WA state representative
Tasmania state representative
Team leaders supporting the Board
Working Group Leaders
Paul Rollason (Qld)
Insurance working group chair
Chris Le Marshall (Qld)
Coal working group chair
Daniel Page (NSW)
HOPS working group chair
The Association of Tourist and Heritage Rail Australia Inc. is an association incorporated under the laws of South Australia.
ATHRA Australia is a registered business name of the Association.
ABN 19 755 744 868
Read the ATHRA Australia Constitution (adopted 16 October 2023)
Read the ATHRA Australia Governance Manual