wins Prestigious Office of Rail Heritage Volunteer Award
On Tuesday evening, 31st July, OTHR was presented with the Office of Rail Heritage award in the category:
Conservation, Preservation, Restoration or Reconstruction. The award recognised the efforts put in by the team of volunteers at OTHR to build a heritage association dedicated to preserving and restoring the Oberon Tarana Branch line as a working Heritage Railway. (see award details below)
|RailCorp Chief, Vince Graham, presents OTHR Track Manager with the award|
Oberon Tarana Heritage Railway Inc. was formed in response to the projected removal of the local rail infrastructure and the likely closure of the rail corridor. Concerned locals recognised the potential of the Pioneer Branch line as a Tourist Railway as well as being a rare and relatively intact railway line. This was at a time when established Rail Heritage groups were struggling with the ramifications of structural change, escalating costs, insurance blow-outs and complex requirements of the regulators in terms of safety and operations.
Forming such a Heritage Rail group in late 2004 was a leap of faith by the founding Board in the face of predictions of failure and insurmountable odds against success. The impossibility of gaining accreditation and mastering the necessary paper work was continually flagged to the Board. Funding was declared an impossibility and ultimate success unlikely. Never-the-less the Board accepted advice, listened to the experts, ignored the knockers, accepted help, sought out help, researched facts and history and proceeded to achieve accreditation, insurance and the myriad other requirements in developing an operating railway.
Community support has been a cornerstone and no effort has been spared to involve the community in the practical restoration of the historic infrastructure. Farmers, householders and businesses have combined under OTHR guidance to provide labour and extensive machinery and material support. Oberon Council has recognised the importance of the OTHR rail project in providing the single most important potential tourism project for the town.
Already the line is showcasing the rail heritage industry to the touring public and in years ahead it will form a connecting link in the Zig Zag, Lithgow, Oberon, Jenolan Caves, Katoomba tourism loop.