An uncertain future - Seymour Railway Heritage Centre (SRHC)

 

Pinned post created by Barrington Womble

Posted 4 years ago

  Raichase Captain Rant!

Location: Sydney, NSW
How much commentary have they posted about the public tours they run?  Nil. Why? Because there haven't been any.
Valvegear
I've said it before, and I'll say it again - I completely agree with ideals of this thread, but often it degenerates into nit picking for the sake of it. Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't a tour run earlier this year with S303 and S313? I seem to recall it was the weekend after Steamrail went to Tocumwal.

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  Barrington Womble Photo Nazi

Location: Banned
That was a charter for Fowles Wines.
  Raichase Captain Rant!

Location: Sydney, NSW
That was a charter for Fowles Wines.
Barrington Womble
Ah, so the general public were not allowed on the train?
  VRfan Moderator

Location: In front of my computer :-p
No, as it was a private charter. The last public SRHC tour was the  NYE special last year.
  Raichase Captain Rant!

Location: Sydney, NSW
No, as it was a private charter. The last public SRHC tour was the  NYE special last year.
VRfan
Just checking. Seems I was mistaken that it was a "tour", when it was in reality, no different from the N Class hauled charter train they ran last year (?). Apologies.
  DavidJDowd Station Master

Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Some of the most stunning tours I have been on have been run by SRHC. I always admired thei use of such cars as Avoca, Melville ect.

They seem now distant memories sitting in a shed,
  Barrington Womble Photo Nazi

Location: Banned
Melville was withdrawn around 10 years ago, and stored. The intention was to try and return it to it's State Car No.2 condition as closely as possible. This was depending on time, and money. I'd say this one has well and truly been forgotten about.

You are right though - the tours of the past were excellent, and well thought out. This all pretty much bit the dust once Rutledge & Co. decided they wanted to play with "the big boys", and enter the diesel hire market as a commercial entity masquerading as a preservation group. All of the volunteers which made these tours worth riding on have been alienated; locked out, and have moved on - some to other preservation groups (which is to their gain).

The SRHC will never re-capture this element, as the team of people who used to crew the trains are now scattered. This was a team of people who knew how to run a train, and work together as one. I'm pretty sure that the will to even run tours has died a death. Instead, they're left owed over a million dollars by chucking all their eggs in one basket by supporting El Zorro (and with State owned assets I might add); they now have a group of people employed that the SRHC have to find money to pay, and have little to no presence in an area where they were once very prominent.

The current hiring to Qube won't last forever as newer motive power is converted to broad gauge. Even if they get some of the money they're owed from EZ, it won't cover the costs they have incurred since. I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that they won't have any money left once the employees have been given their notice, and payed their entitlements. All of the money will have been squandered fixing the diesel fleet before this, of course, in some vain hope that a new customer will magically appear in time to save them from ruin.

--------

Just remember, Colin (I know you're watching with a smug little smirk across your face): The buck stops with the president of the group. Your words, not mine.
I have a strange feeling that those words are going to come back, and bite you square on your butt before too long. You (and your followers) are responsible for the downfall of the SRHC. A group which was once a great thing to be a member of. Well done.
  PurveyorOfHumblePie Beginner

In 2011 quite a few volunteer members identified a need to reform the management of the Seymour Railway Heritage Centre (SRHC). In 2011 the revenue was quite impressive at around $2,000,000 so there was much scope to bring in professional external expertise to help ensure that the policies and practices relating to accounting, contract management and governance were all reviewed and overhauled to ensure that business risks were reduced.

Unfortunately the well intended attempt to bring about the required change in management was thwarted by some committee members who were savagely ‘hell bent’ on maintaining the status quo; the status quo that has now helped ensure that SRHC funds in EXCESS of $1,000,000 are now at risk. As an unsecured creditor there is sure to be much soul searching going on.

It is known from media reports that $78,000 is owed to the Castlemaine & Maldon Railway Preservation Society (CMRPS), but what is unknown is how much is owed to the South Gippsland Railway (SGR) and other creditors (big & small). The odds of the SRHC having good cash reserves on hand are quite remote as the chief spender does not seem to have the competence to exercise fiscal restraint, and the committee appears to be totally hamstrung by compliant ‘yes’ men.

Some Questions arise.
  • Has the true financial position of the SRHC been fully determined to ensure that it still solvent?
  • Has every Committee member been taking reasonable care to satisfy themselves (as required by law) of the true financial position of the SRHC and are they fully satisfied that the SRHC is still solvent?
  • What is the actual business rationale contained in the Business Plan that actually justified the SRHC extending excessive amounts of credit to a Debtor who has been a  potential  Doubtful Debtor for many years? (The same question should be asked of all the major creditors of El Zorro.)
  • Why has the SRHC chosen to give more power to the self appointed CEO and Executive members of the Committee when the regulatory environment makes all committee members equal in terms of decision making?
  • If the SRHC has good cash reserves then you must ask why the CMRPS has not been paid out of reserves?  (It is sure to be an item on the agenda at the CMRPS AGM in August!)
  • Are the alleged ’yes’ men of the SRHC Committee now worried about their own assets possibly being at stake; to pay the price of their management?
There are many more questions to come.

Hopefully the answers will be forthcoming...

The good news is the SRHC Financial Year concludes on 30th September 2013 and the true and correct results will be reported to the AGM at the end of October/early November. Are all the good seats for the AGM sold out yet?

Back to the pie making!

[edit]Fixed up formatting[/edit]
  xxxxlbear Token Booking Clerk

Location: Geelong
Hmm, it would be interesting the see the SRHC financial report of 2012/13, and the amount of bad debts that they have obviously had to write off.
  Valvegear Dr Beeching

Location: Norda Fittazroy
It would be even more interesting to see an audited SHRC financial report.
  Barrington Womble Photo Nazi

Location: Banned
...By an auditor appointed by either ASIC or the taxation department, or both.
  Barrington Womble Photo Nazi

Location: Banned
No updates on their web blog since the 25th of June. We're now nearly in August.

No news on the money owed to the SRHC, or what they plan on doing as an interim measure to remain solvent (if they are even solvent to begin with). X31 remains on hire to Qube; with S303 being spot hired a couple of times to supplement motive power shortages - nothing compared to when El Zorro was using the SRHC fleet (for free as it turned out), and President Rutledge was crowing about the empire he would build with the money made. Very little money seems to be flowing in at present - certainly not enough to sustain the SRHC in it's current form using employees rather than volunteers.

I have it on good authority that no mention of the SRHC's financial woes have not been reported in the members newsletter either; only a rosey picture that all is well, and things couldn't be better...As is typical with any form of propaganda - "Don't tell them the truth, or they'll lose faith" is the name of the game.

One has to wonder whether those who produce the small amounts of information which do get aired are really that naive to think that their remaining membership isn't aware of the mis-management of the SRHC? Information is all over the internet, and is relatively easy to procure from other sources.

Will the AGM be D-Day for the SRHC, and it's current 'management'?
  Valvegear Dr Beeching

Location: Norda Fittazroy
It's the mushroom system for the remaining members - keep them in the dark and feed them "bull manure."
I have been intrigued for a long time that the current management seems to believe that members either have no right, or do not need, to know what is happening with the running of SRHC. There's lot of smoke, but nobody is making any obvious attempt to put out the fire. Perhaps the fire is out of control.
  Valvegear Dr Beeching

Location: Norda Fittazroy
Is there any news filtering out of Seymour?

The blog on the website has ground to a halt, so one assumes there's not much that they want us to hear.
  xxxxlbear Token Booking Clerk

Location: Geelong
Oh, SRHC still around, are they?
Which reminds me, is their 2012/13 financial report out for public perusal yet, or is that a stupid question? Rolling Eyes
  Barrington Womble Photo Nazi

Location: Banned
I don't think they've had their AGM yet, 'Bear. Usually they hold it around the end of October.
A few of us are waiting for the release of the financial report...Should be very interesting reading.
  xxxxlbear Token Booking Clerk

Location: Geelong
Ah okay, thanks Barrington Womble.
And yes, I agree....when the financial report is released, it is going to make for a very interesting read indeed.
  jayrail Assistant Commissioner

Location: te Anau Southern Alps NZ
brings sadness to see this
  Barrington Womble Photo Nazi

Location: Banned
It's a pity. That's for sure.

I have heard on the grapevine that the SRHC have acquired S302, and T386 as partial payment for the debt owed by El Zorro, and these have since been moved to Seymour. Seems it might knock a little bit of money off the final amount owed to the SRHC, but what about the groups that the SRHC were supposed to manage the hiring of assets for?

Roughly $78,000 is owed to the VGR. This is holding up urgent works to the track between Maldon, and Muckleford. Their loco (T333) is also currently marooned on standard gauge. There has been no solid proof of how much SGR are owed for the use of T342, but there have been people suggesting sums to the tune of $100,000 on other forms of social media. It makes me wonder whether there is still money owed to the YVR from when the SRHC were managing the hire of T341. I'd hazard a guess that there is.
  Valvegear Dr Beeching

Location: Norda Fittazroy
S302 and T386 would only be useful as partial payment if they can realise some dollars. If they can't, SHRC has been dudded even further.
  ssaunders Train Controller

I would think one creditor can't just be given assets as a payoff when others are also owed a heap.

I would think everyone would want them auctioned so all creditors get a cut even if tiny.

Ss
  ed31880 Train Controller

definitely doesn't sound correct that shrc would have done a deal with the liquidator to acquire both these locos as a part payment of their debt, especially if the value of them is greater than what other creditors would receive. And along with T333, doesn't T342 have to be converted back to broad gauge, repainted and returned to SGR and is there any news on the repatriation of GM 36?
  Barrington Womble Photo Nazi

Location: Banned
I don't know how the dealings work, it's only what I've been hearing. It's also why I have asked these questions - to see if there is any truth behind them.
I do know that all of the EZ locomotives (those thought to be owned by the company) were under a different name as far as ownership went; so the liquidator wouldn't have any say in the matter - if the owners decided to sell up, or "donate" them to a "not-for-profit" group. Both locos have been transferred to Seymour - what for though, if there is no truth to the rumour?

I am aware of the gauge conversion issues with both T333, and T342, but I don't know what was stipulated (if anything even was) in the contracts as far returning both locos to broad gauge, and repainting. The President always claimed that locomotives owned or allocated to the SRHC, had to be restored to the SRHC's standards by the company hiring the loco afterwards. Whether or not this was actually in the contract with EZ is cause for debate - indications given by the actions of the president would certainly suggest to the contrary (look at GM36 as an example). I will say this, and I must stress that this is my opinion only: If it was the SRHC's decision to convert the locomotives to standard gauge, and the SRHC's alone; then it should be the SRHC, and only the SRHC footing the bill to return both locos to broad gauge. It would also be an act of good faith for the SRHC to pay for any repairs to the locomotives' post-hire, and pay for the return to their respective owners.

In regards to agreements/contracts between both the VGR, and SGR for payment of use; there was never anything really said to members about it, only that the locomotives would be part of "our" fleet to use for hire, and heritage purposes. In regards to both groups obtaining what is rightfully owed to them, it would be up to the owners of both locos to pursue the SRHC over the matter, either via mediation or through the court system. I really hope that they do pursue the SRHC, because what has happened isn't fair. Why should these groups have to put projects on 'hold' or have to extend an overdraw with a bank so they can remain operating? The only reason these groups got involved in loco hire in the first place was to help pay for their activities, and to help them survive - not to create an empire. The SRHC were supposed to act in the best interest of these groups in their capacity as manager, and I can see absolutely no evidence of them having done this, which is very disappointing.

I haven't heard anything in regards to GM36, only that it's still in Portland. I am at a loss as to why it's taking the SRHC so long to do anything about it. Maybe - just maybe, they have run out of money?
  monday Chief Commissioner

The winding up of a company doesn't work that way with cutting a deal like that for outstanding monies with creditors.

They are only stored up there out the way of Dynon, as I suspect Victrack were putting pressure on for the Dynon turntable to be used for actual live operators not storage of out of operation equipment - one wonders what the future for L277 and 1872 in that case is...

They aren't sold to SRHC, and at the end of the day, if they do come up for sale SRHC would have to put up a fair price to get them if they want them just like everyone else.

The demise of ElZ is basically the end of wholesale vintage hire in Victoria, unless something dramatically changes.  QUBE will endure with the other heritage VR stuff in the short term until they source something better.
  Barrington Womble Photo Nazi

Location: Banned
Thanks for the reply, monday. Always good to have some clarification.

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