Let's all cool off a bit. No need to fight, I love you both.
If it is ok, I will try to summarise things for VR_King, as he/she clearly doesn't quite undertand what has happened.
At the 2011 SRHC AGM, around 20 - 30 active volunteers walked away from the group, due to there being no change in governance. The committee of the day were (and presumeably still are, as most of them are still there) far more interested in hiring out diesel locomotives to commercial rail companies. Many of these locomotives are entrusted to the SRHC by the Victorian Government, to preserve them for the people of Victoria. The continual hiring meant that interest in running tours tapered off dramatically. If a tour did run, it would run with a hired V/Line N class, rather than having the preserved locomotives returned for their intended purpose of hauling heritage trains. The idea of hiring the locomotives out was to help raise money for carriages, and the like to be restored for heritage train use. This didn't happen. Payments from the company hiring the locos was near on non-existent, and what did come in usually went on repairing one of the locomotives which had failed in traffic. If a locomotive failed in traffic, it was usually repaired at the SRHC's cost, not the company's. Ask yourself: why should a preservation group prop up a commercial entity? The end result was that the commercial company went bust, and the SRHC were left with their pants around their ankles to the tune of $1,000,000. I should also add that the director of the company was also a mate of the SRHC's president, and I would surmise that this is why much of the above happened. Very much a conflict of interest.
This thread was mainly intended to inform the greater rail enthusiast community of what was happening, as the SRHC aren't very good at communicating to the outside world - in fact, it was extremely rare to even get a members newsletter. What information was shared, was sugar-coated, and still is to a point (Blog). If you're a member, you have every right to know if there are major troubles within the group, and exactly what they are - especially in the case of vast sums of money being handled, and the locomotives entrusted to the group going on hire. This simply didn't happen. This thread also served as a place where questions could be asked of the SRHC committee, in a public place, where there could be no denial that people wanted the information that was lacking. The SRHC were contacted by Michael, with an invite to add to the discussion. So far, they have not surprisingly ignored, or declined those invitations. Their silence speaks volumes. So far, things have remained fairly civil in this thread, with tempers only flaring up a couple of times - this must be something of a record for the railfan community!
Getting back to those 20 - 30 volunteers; these were the people behind the running of the heritage trains. They were the ones coming up with ideas for tours - planning; advertising, and crewing the train when it became a reality. They were the people with the drive to make the heritage trains the success that they were. Once they were gone, it fell flat. The SRHC simply became a hiring company, running the odd charter or heritage train to keep the taxman, and Victrack Heritage happy. It might seem a bit negative to you, I know, but some of us really enjoyed being a part of that group. We did understand that there would have to be some hiring to meet the costs of day-to-day running, but it became the be-all-end-all for the president, and took priority over all else. Bringing in a new committee is also harder than it looks at the SRHC, as you must have worked 12 full days at, or for the SRHC to attain full membership. You must be a full member to vote at the AGM. An attempt was put forward to bring in a new committee at the SRHC, but this was scuttled by the incumbant president, and his employed lackey, by using bully tactics to obtain proxy votes from a few of the softer people. It didn't help the cause that perhaps the wrong person was put forth as candidate for president either, but it's easier to see that in hindsight. To put it into perspective a little; imagine yourself for a minute being in a group you love being part of, but it's under the control of a tin-pot dictator. Your attempt at trying to bring balance back into the group have failed, and you know things will not change as long as that person is still there. What do you do? Stay in an increasingly toxic environment? Or walk? For many of us, walking away was the only option available. This is why you don't see those beautiful items of rollingstock out on the mainline running tours anymore. The ironic thing is, heritage trains are
still a stream of revenue. It would be nice to see them run a tour once a month as in previous years, but I'm realistic enough to know that it's rather unlikely. You might get one public tour every six months if you're lucky.
Anyway, I hope this explains things a little. I guess there always will be some aspect of bitterness, and/or pessimism over what has happened, and to those responsible by some of the ex-volunteers, and that is understandable. Unless you've been through it yourself, it'll always be a bit harder to understand. Emotions can be a tricky thing to turn off. If you would like to have a better idea of the situation, then please; grab yourself a cuppa, and have a read of the entire thread from Page 1. Things might start to make a little bit of sense then.
Hope this helps.