Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Government asks WSR chairman to help preserve the nation's rail heritage

WEST Somerset Railway chairman Chris Austin (pictured) has been appointed to the Railway Heritage Committee, which preserves nationally important and historically significant railway records and artefacts.
The three-year appointment was one of six made by the Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly and announced by Transport Minister Tom Harris.
Mr Austin said: “The railway has had a profound and beneficial effect on society over almost two centuries, and continues to do so in helping to meet today’s transport needs in a sustainable way.
“So, I am delighted to be appointed to serve on the Railway Heritage Committee, where I can use my railway experience to support the proper conservation of this rich heritage.”
Mr Harris said: “The Railway Heritage Committee continues to ensure that our important railway legacy is not lost to the nation.
“The members’ range of experience and knowledge will enable them to be strong champions of our rail heritage and help drive forward the work and profile of the committee.”
Mr Austin is director of public policy at the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC), supporting the railway through closer links between train operators and key stakeholders and strengthening ATOC’s understanding and articulation of rail and transport policy issues at national and regional levels.
He was previously an executive director at the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA), where he helped develop the Government’s community rail strategy until 2005.
Mr Austin has more than 40 years of experience of the railways, working at British Rail in a number of key management roles, notably as director of policy and Parliamentary affairs for the British Railways Board.
He was awarded the OBE in January, 2006, for his services to the rail industry, a month after the West Somerset Railway – Britain’s longest preserved line – was awarded Independent Railway of the Year.
The Department for Transport sponsors the Rail Heritage Committee to identify those railway records and railway artefacts of future value to the nation and of general public interest, and for research and scholarship, to ensure they ultimately reside in good condition in appropriate locations.

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