Wattrain was founded in 2010 as a result of a resolution made to Railway Heritage Conference: Opportunities and Challenges held in Brisbane Queensland, Australia in October 2009. This resolution stated “This meeting endorses decisions made at the previous two World Congresses to form a world-wide organisation to promote the interests of the owners and operators of heritage and tourist trains and trams, and that the three proposers ie. Quique Diaz (Latin America), Chris Le Marshall (Australia) and David Morgan (Europe) be invited to establish an organisation along the principles set out in their paper. Furthermore, they should report back to all potential and interested candidates for membership at least three months before the next plenary session in 2012”. The conference in 2009 had been preceded by equally successful conventions in 2003 and 2006 in Switzerland and Argentina respectively.
Much work has been carried out since 2009, to bring Wattrain into being as a company, currently based in London, UK. We will be reporting regularly on our progress in our newsletter and also on the website.
Its aims are to represent the interests of such operators on a global scale, to advise and assist its members on technical, legal, environmental, cultural, commercial, marketing and other matters, to exchange ideas and information, to encourage best practice and to promote the sector generally. In particular, it seeks to ensure that traditional skills are passed on to the next generation.
The strategy for achieving those aims is set out in Wattrain’s Strategic Plan. Because of the worldwide dispersal of its members, maximum use is made of the internet. At the moment we are preparing the case for the continued use of coal in steam locomotives and how members can reduce their carbon footprint when operating steam traction. One of our longer term projects is we intend to create an electronic version of the Alexandria Library. This was set up in the eighth century BC by Ptolemy 1, Pharaoh of Egypt, to collect all the world’s knowledge. Whilst we don’t want to collect all the worlds knowledge we do want to collect as much knowledge on railways as possible. It is hoped that this will not only disseminate information and advice but also facilitate the search for those seeking to resource specialist parts, equipment and services.
We hold a conference every third year when we engage speakers to address topical issues or to update technical developments of interest to tram (trolley) or train operators. They also provide a great opportunity to network with colleagues and suppliers from overseas. The most recent conference was in Japan in 2015 and the next conference will be in Texas in 2018.
Wattrain is governed by a Council of Management led by David Morgan (UK) as President who is also a council member and former President of FEDECRAIL, the European Federation of Museum & Tourist Railways, and a former Chairman of the Heritage Railway Association of Britain and Ireland (HRA), Chris Le Marshall (AU) and Bob La Prelle (US) as Vice Presidents and a Board of Directors composed by Gabriela Galizia (AR), Stefano Benazzo (IT) and Rajesh Agrewal (IN). Wattrain is also supported by three Honorary Patrons: Major General Courtney Wilson (CEO of the B&O Railroad Museum, USA), Lord Faulkner of Worcester (President of HRA, UK) and the Hon. Tim Fischer (former deputy Prime Minister of Australia) and Sergio Zubieta, (Quique Diaz’s partner in El tren del fin del Mondo in Tierra del Fuego in Argentina) (AR)