Explore Railway History at The Railway Archives

The Railway Archives of The Australian Railway Historical Society is the largest private collection of historic photos and documents related to the government and private railways of Australia.

The diligent work of volunteers over many years has digitised most of the collection and it is gradually being uploaded to our Online Archives.

The Railway Archives is at 5-7 Henderson Road, Alexandria. We are open to public visitors by appointment, Tuesday to Thursday. Please call or e-mail to arrange. Many enquiries can be addressed by e-mail or telephone.

Access to The Railway Archives is free for members; an access charge applies for non-members.

A growing proportion of the collection is available online. We are prioritising the material most useful to researchers, historians, modellers and enthusiasts. Items can be purchased at moderate cost. 

Members have free access and can access the site by clicking on the link below. Non-member enquiries are welcome.


Buy Archive Access Membership

You will need to login - if you need login credentials, please click the "forgot password" link and reset it, or contact the office (during office hours) by phone for assistance.

Volunteering at The Railway Archives

We need volunteers to help catalogue, digitise and maintain the vast amount of material in our care. We have a friendly, social environment and the opportunity to contribute to
a valuable community resource. If you would like to be involved and can spare a day per week or fortnight, we’d love to hear from you.

Projects include:

  • Adding to our online database,
  • Digitising and cataloguing,
  • Image and document scanning
  • Digital editing,
  • Writing, interviewing and transcribing.

Regular volunteers receive shop and cafe discounts. If you are interested in being involved, please call our Archives Supervisor at (02) 9699 4595 or e-mail craig.mackey@arhsnsw.com.au to discuss this further.

Benefits of Volunteering

Volunteering at the Archives of the Australian Railway Historical Society (NSW) can be a rewarding and enriching experience that offers a wide range of benefits, including:

Learning new skills: Volunteering at the Archives can be a great opportunity to learn new skills, such as cataloguing and preserving historical materials, researching and writing about the history of railways
in Australia, and using digital tools and technologies to manage and share information.

Meeting new people: Volunteering at the Archives can also be a great way to meet new people and make connections with others who are interested in the railways.

Contributing to the community By volunteering at the Archives, you can contribute to the work of the ARHS and help preserve and share important items of historical interest.

Enhancing your resume: Volunteering at the Archives can also be a valuable experience to add to your resume. It demonstrates your dedication to community service and your interest in history and cultural heritage.

Personal fulfillment: Volunteering at the Archives can be a personally fulfilling experience, providing the opportunity to work on meaningful projects which make a positive impact on the community.

What can I find at The Railway Archives?

The Railway Archives (formerly the Railway Resource Centre or ARHS Archives) is an accumulation of decades of material donated by members and others. The collection is unique and has been recognised by the National Library of Australia as being 'Nationally Significant' for its cultural and historical importance. Engineers Australia has also recognised the importance of the archive by the awarding of a 'National Marker' of engineering heritage.

The Railway Archives is located at 5-7 Henderson Rd Alexandria, in a purpose built facility to preserve and protect the collection.

Although the collection has been amassed mainly from donations from the members of the NSW Division of the Society, it includes extensive holdings of documents relating to other States and Territories, in addition to some materials relating to New Zealand and the islands of the South Pacific. The archive is at the core of the Society's activities and is respected among railway researchers and heritage professionals. The collection has effectively become the national documentary hub for any research into Australian railways.

Over the decades, the archive has supported the production of countless articles for the ARHS Bulletin and Australian Railway History Journals, Railway Digest and the publication of many books and reports.

This Collection runs to approximately 3.0 shelf kilometres and is Australia’s largest collection of railway-related historical material.

Currently, the Collection comprises

  • Photographs, slides and digital images (the total number exceeds 1 million
  • Engineering drawings of locomotives, rolling stock and infrastructure
  • Books and reports, annual reports, Royal Commission reports
  • Employee records;
  • Railway staff newsletters and magazines;
  • Industry and railfan magazines;
  • Maps, signal diagrams, curve and gradient diagrams, street directories
  • Timetables, Composition books, Operating Instructions, Rules and Regulations
  • Circulars and memorandums
  • Passenger fares and goods and coaching instruction;
  • Personal observations and diaries of train movement
  • Film and audio;

plus much more.

Over 75% of the collection has been digitised and 20% is available on our online archives. Access to the online archive is included in ARHS Membership.

Some material is only available in our Reading Room. Contact the archives archives@arhsnsw.com.au for enquiries.