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New England Railway Inc.

New England Railway Inc. is currently located in Armidale NSW at the old Armidale Freight Facility. 


 Following the cessation of passenger trains north of Armidale in the early 1990's the idea of developing a tourist railway was discussed in the Glen Innes community and a steering committee of the Glen Innes Rotary club was set up to investigate the feasibility of a tourist railway.  An incorporated association was established in Glen Innes, Meanwhile in Armidale following a highly successful visit by a heritage train hauled by a restored 59 class steam locomotive a group was established in Armidale to also investigate the feasibility of a tourist railway.  A joint meeting between the two rail heritage groups decided to amalgamate into one incorporated association which was to be called New England Railway Incorporated which came into existence in 1996.  Around that time the State Rail Authority was disposing of surplus rolling stock including several 620 class sets, New England Railway Incorporated submitted a tender for two sets 636/765 and 632/732.  The sets arrived in Armidale in November 1998 and were temporarily stored in the old goods shed in Armidale with the intention of transferring one of the sets to Glen Innes however this never happened and the railway was truncated at Dumaresq shortly after.  Several NER members became aware of a 850 class buffet car from a DEB set plus two 620 class power cars in a rather dilapidated condition and a 720 class trailer car in good condition at West Tamworth which were to be used to form a training train for TAFE students undertaking hospitality courses at Tamworth TAFE. The project lapsed and eventually NER was gifted the four carriages.

Unfortunately, during the negotiations car 722 was set alight by vandals and was severely damaged, Cars 851, 627 and 630 were hauled to Armidale in December 2002.  Car 851 was sold to the publican of Walcha Road Hotel and was moved by crane and truck to its new location in December 2004 while car 627 was also sold to an unknown buyer but was never removed from the NER siding. It is worth noting that attempts to find the owner of 627 have been made by the new board appointed in 2021 however no one has come forward with proof of ownership and NER have since claimed back ownership of 627 under applicable laws.   Car 722 was dismantled at West Tamworth salvaging usable parts and undamaged body panels before selling the steel chassis as scrap metal.  NER members also inspected car 622 at Werris Creek which was damaged in a shunting accident, and it was discovered the chassis underneath the front of the carriage had been damaged so no offer from NER was made for the carriage which was eventually acquired by the Tenterfield Railway Museum to be used as a static display along with car 727.  The Glen Innes Branch of NER acquired an historic FR carriage which was used as part of the Glen Innes Tourist Information Centre and also acquired three bitumen tankers from the bitumen depot located near Glen Innes Railway Station and several track vehicles.  The branch commenced track vehicle rides in November 1999 for the public between Glen Innes and Stonehenge Platform while the the FR car was set up as an information display at Glen Innes Railway Station.  Unfortunately, the carriage was later set alight by vandals when the branch became inactive.  Armidale Branch commenced restoring 635/765 and received a grant in 2002 to enable the two carriages to be painted inside and out by a Work for the Dole team.


In May 2002 units 635/765 were allowed to do a test run between Armidale and Dumaresq crewed by members of the Rail Motor Society who were in Armidale at the time with two NER members who were qualified 620 class drivers based in Newcastle were also involved as part of their road knowledge requirements.  Unfortunately, the accreditation process never continued beyond that point.  A new branch of NER called the Tenterfield Jennings Branch was formed in 2004 and the new branch hosted its first meeting of the NER Board in February 2005.  Due to the complex structure of NER and disagreements with the two founding branches at Armidale and Glen Innes the organisation slowly became dysfunctional, and several key members resigned for various reasons including health issues. One of the Armidale Branch's founding members who was a “get things done” person also passed away in the early 2000's, The Armidale Branch continued to function until 2016 when all activity at the Armidale depot seemed to have ceased.  The business who we shared the goods shed with in Armidale also decided to relocate in 2016 leaving the goods shed abandoned an it became an attraction for vandals and other undesirables.  Significant vandalism occurred to the carriages stored in Armidale Yard during that time while Glen Innes and Tenterfield Jennings branches also become dysfunctional, and the track vehicle rides ceased as well. From 2016 to 2021 there was very little to no activity for NER with only the minimum requirement of members, However in September 2021 NER come back to life with new members joining and a AGM was held with what members could be found on record with a new board elected.  Since then NER board quickly developed a business plan and decided to restore 635-765 to mainline operations which is the current project members are working on.  This project is being funded by Grants and Donations.   

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