Last Wednesday, February 17, 20201 an old friend returned to Oberon.
Residents who were around prior to 1964 and travelled on the Oberon to Tarana branch railway line, would have travelled on a carriage called a "Composite Brake Branch - line Sitting Car" or "HS36" for short.
After an absence of 57 years, Oberon Tarana Heritage Railway Inc. has brought HS36 back to Oberon.
Car HS36 now has State Heritage significance as an example of an all compartment carriage that illustrates late nineteenth century developments in carriage construction. It's thought it may be the only carriage of its type left in New South Wales. It is virtually original condition and retains many significant interior and exterior elements associated with 1890's carriage construction.
HS36 is one of the few surviving examples of a "Thow" (after the designer William Thow) type branch composite sitting and sleeping carriages used in the NSW rail system.
It entered service in March 1891 as a composite branch-line sleeping car No 1 (of 12) with two sleeping, one first and one second class compartments. It was converted in 1935 to a first - second- guards sitting compartment, otherwise the carriage was not generally altered.
It was taken out of service in 1964 and set aside for display at the New South Wales Rail Transport Museum. HS36 was relocated to Broadmeadows (near Newcastle) in April 2009.
Oberon Tarana Heritage Railway Inc. (OTHR) has secured the carriage on permanent loan from Transport for New South Wales subject to a number of preservation requirements.
It will be eventually restored to its original condition as a long term project.
OTHR is a not for profit association of railway enthusiasts and has a mission statement which reads, in part: "to run a tourist train from Oberon Station to Tarana Station on the Western Line (along the original corridor that was suspended in 1979)."
One of the aims of OTHR is to generate tourist related jobs in the Oberon area and give residents in the Oberon/Bathurst area an opportunity to volunteer at OTHR to enhance rail heritage in the Central Tablelands.
OTHR has a short term goal of operating a train to Hazelgrove within about twelve months.
OTHR has secured a Federal Government Grant of $1.5M thanks to Member for Calare, Andrew Gee and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack.
Tenders are about to be called to provide a scope of works to refurbish the Oberon to Hazelgrove section of the line.