Due to COVID-19 government requirements, our bookshops and office will be closed until further notice. 

COVID Update from ARHSnsw Board

I am sure that all of you are experiencing some level of inconvenience or hardship in the current situation and hope that you have all that you need and above all, are enjoying good health and safety.

I firstly want to assure everyone that the Board and Management of ARHSnsw are working very hard to ensure we emerge from the current lockdown ready to resume our normal activities and continue to grow and thrive as the leading organisation for railway enthusiasts and railway history in New South Wales and Australia.

In the first wave of the pandemic, you might remember we were just about to move into our newly renovated premises.  There was a period of uncertainty until government and lenders were able to organise a range of measures to keep businesses operating.  This meant that the Society was mostly able to function as normal, with a shortfall in revenue offset by Jobkeeper and new borrowing.  Members would have seen very little disruption other than the closure of our bookshops and the suspension of tours.

However, as we are all aware, this time around, an initial short period of lockdown has necessarily been extended and could now last into September or October.  Even then, it is unlikely that normal trading conditions will be restored until sometime in 2022.  This is a deeper and longer lockdown than that imposed over 12 months ago and on the back of a difficult 2020, presents a very difficult set of circumstances for us to deal with.  Government support is less generous, and we are reluctant to increase debt further.

Consequently, the Board has had to make some difficult but necessary decisions to protect the Society.  These are aimed at meeting fixed costs with the available income to protect some cash reserves without incurring additional debt.  Effective immediately:

  1. We will terminate our lease of the Central Station Bookshop and we will move out of Central by mid-September. Whilst the Concourse has been a great location, trading has not returned to the level it was pre-COVID.  We cannot afford to continue paying for the lease while the shop is forced to remain closed.  Redevelopment of the retail spaces on the Concourse is also likely from 2022 (associated with the Metro works) which would have required us to vacate anyway.
  2. Publication of Australian Railway History and Railway Digest magazines will be suspended for two months. August will be the last edition until we resume.  We will review the suspension in October to decide if we resume at that stage, or if we extend the suspension.
  3. For September and October, The Railway Archives will be reduced to a “caretaker” mode with only essential work being completed.

These actions have not been taken lightly, but in the Board’s opinion, they are necessary to reduce our monthly operating costs in line with declining revenue.

It is also worth noting that because of a lockdown in the Hunter region, all Newcastle branch meetings are suspended until further notice.  Sydney meetings have been suspended since June.  All tours are suspended for 2021.  Some tours will be rescheduled to 2022, but new dates will not be announced until restrictions have eased.

Many of you will be wondering what happens to your subscription and membership.  Our intention is that this action will effectively place a pause on subscriptions until publication resumes and that all commitments will be honoured.  We will constantly review our position and the trading conditions for the next few months but until the future becomes clearer, it is very difficult to provide exact dates.

Please also note that although the Central Station Bookshop is closed, we continue to accept and process mail orders by phone or internet; this is a great way to maintain your supply of railway-related reading materials during lockdown and support the Society.

What you can do to help the Society survive during these difficult times

We need sufficient revenue coming in to ensure we pay our commitments when they fall due.  Put simply, there are two ways you can help.  The first is to make a cash donation (tax-deductible) or interest free loan to the society.  If a donation is not possible, the second way you can help is to purchase a book, magazine or DVD from our Railway Bookshop.  We have a huge variety of new and second-hand items available.  Just think for a moment:  have you purchased all the recent titles published by the Society?  Is there a second-hand book you missed out on?  Even if not for your personal use, how about buying something as a gift for someone else.  If each member purchased $30 worth each month, that would bring in excess of $30,000 to the Society which would go a long way towards paying the bills, building up our reserves of cash and allowing us to resume magazine publication.  Please think about this.

These are very uncertain times and I hope you understand that our focus must be on emerging from the current hardship to a position where we can operate and grow our Society for years to come.  We look forward to keeping you informed of our progress and welcome any questions or concerns you may have.  Your support and understanding is greatly appreciated.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions the office at Henderson Road is closed and we cannot take phone enquiries directly, so if you wish to contact the Society, please email mail@arhsnsw.com.au and we will endeavour to answer your questions as soon as we can.  Please ensure you include your name and phone number so that we can use those means to contact you if necessary.

With the Authority of the Board.

Paul Scells                                                                     James Dalton

General Manager                                                          Chairman

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