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FINAL Draft Newsletter

VIEWS: 28 PAGES: 3

FINAL Draft Newsletter

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  • pg 1
									steam in action
keeping tracks
News from Heritage Bodies
Steam in Action and HRASA.
that means many things to many people.

south africa

Not everyone agrees with Steam in Action ... it’s called democracy ... a word

Different organisations really. Steam in Action are operators – they own locomotives and they employ staff to maintain, drive and fire them. They are hungry for business and are keen to expand their product and services footprint. They are designed to run along industry lines. In so doing they have to protect their interests and this forces them to interact with the authorities in order that their depots, locos and access agreements are all in place in accordance with good corporate governance. HRASA is an industry representative body which means that it is insulated from the day-to-day operational side of loco movements. Although there is the inevitable difference of opinion between SIA and HRASA this need not be. We have had a lot of e-mails from people around the world who are not that comfortable with Steam in Action. This is inevitable. We do however believe that most of the comments were based on a misunderstanding as to what our brief really is. Steam in Action sent the following consolidated response to those who were critical of its creation: “I have sat back for the last two weeks and I have read various lengthy e-mails on the subject of why the Steam in Action initiative is damaging to HRASA. It is very clear that there has been an over reaction to the Steam in Action initiative. It is also apparent to me that the irritation that seems to exist from people like yourself helps to identify your group as emotional intellectuals rather than as pragmatists. I am not about to get involved in arguing as to whether Steam in Action has merit. Perhaps I am not sufficiently well qualified to do that and maybe we should not be talking to intellectuals anyway. Friends of the Rail, Reefsteamers and the Sandstone Heritage Trust only know one thing and that is how to get things done. Under the "How to get things done" list we collectively include the following: 1. Trying to save as much of South Africa's rail heritage as possible. 2. To move to places of safety the above items. 3. Where possible to restore them and then to arrange for them to haul trains at the earliest possible opportunity. 4. To engage the authorities in a realistic but robust fashion to prove to them that they have completely misunderstood the huge latent value of the resources that they inherited from a previous era. If they will not act in an enlightened fashion we reserve the right to adopt any strategy that might be appropriate to achieve the objective. After all you never get a second chance when someone is setting about the destruction of a country's heritage. We also accept the fact that the people who will ultimately benefit from the work that is currently being done probably aren't even born yet. 5. We engage with the international community. No one country or organisation in the modern world can live in isolation from its compatriots in other parts of the world. Because we are already far down the road with the SIA initiative we already know what the response is and it is nothing short of breathtaking. Let me quote you a very few of the very many comments we have had: "As an ex South African resident in Guernsey happy to assist in providing trust and or director services in a personal capacity at no charge.” "My wife and I have been running The Society of International Railway Travellers for 25 years. We specialize in high-end international rail tours. We are VERY interested in your venture, hope to do business with you and wish you the very best.” "Willing to spend some of my leave assisting in steam restoration (willing to learn!); handy with a tool box!" These three responses encapsulate exactly what we are trying to achieve. We want more volunteers on the ground with tools, we want more tourists to visit from overseas so that we can generate the revenue to further our objectives. We want non-technical people to assist us through the regulatory minefields that exist out there.

keeping tracks • december 2007

Surely it occurs to you gentlemen that we are not slaves to government and we are not obliged to accept that all decisions taken by government, parastatals or state agencies are correct. The recent rugby debacle is a good example. One minute our rugby team must be constructed using quotas and the next thing the President disowns the concept because he was privy to the action taking place on the field and realised that it was a flawed concept. It is only by taking action rather than talking about something that one demonstrated the merit of the enterprise. We really aren't that interested in having meetings or debating things with people. We are much more interested in saying "Watch this you told us such and such could not be done or must not be done it is prohibited from being done. We did it anyway because we believe that we are on morally strong and safe ground.” 6. To build this programme we need money. We reserve the right to raise that money by working hard, running trains, and asking people to contribute to the programme. 7. We reserve the right to be good leaders of men, to be good marketing people, and to be good at building a positive vibe. Human beings need to be motivated, human beings need to be organised, human beings need to have collective responsibility for something which is worthwhile and which is exciting. How constructive is it for us to have to field all this criticism when we know without any shadow of a doubt that what we are doing is necessary and is correct? 8. We accept that we are not mutually exclusive. What we are doing is to attract a large group of enthusiasts from around the world who think the same way as we do. That does not mean to say there will not be dissident groups and if you want to be perceived as a dissident group then that is fine - in fact it probably helps to keep us on our toes. I could add dozens more points and arguments and benefits to support what we are doing. I am not going to bother you because you are more than capable of figuring them out for yourself. Let me end by appealing to you to not be so emotionally bruised. It takes real stature to walk across the road and say to someone who is involved in another enterprise - I know what you are doing, I see what you are doing, and I understand the merit of what you are doing because it is proven. I do not fully agree with it because I feel that you may be treading on my territory but I concede that I have not done most of the things that you are presently doing and therefore I accept that in the bigger picture you must be allowed to continue. We have brought hope, we have brought a new realisation that the whole thing has not gone totally down the drain although the signs of that happening were depressingly evident on a daily basis. We accept that you may have much better government contacts than us but even if that is true we have not seen any evidence that it has brought about tangible benefits. I do not think that you should compromise your position by assuming that we are incapable of talking to senior government officials and others at all levels. Part of the Steam in Action initiative is to simply build the constituency, which would cause government officials, politicians etc. to take note that this is a nontrivial enterprise and that maybe they should show an interest. Gentlemen, we are hunting in the same forest. Maybe we should stop and share the spoils at the end of the day because we are all looking for exactly the same thing. Remember every time I receive an e-mail which has a bit of a gripe about what we are doing, I feel that it is courteous to respond to it. In my opinion however that time could be better spent marketing the concept of SIA around the world with the objective of growing the constituency on an ongoing basis. Please monitor what is happening in the real world and you will be impressed with the new levels of energy that are being brought to bear on situations which are less than satisfactory. I have no emotional view of the situation whatsoever. There is work to be done.” We received an instant response from Ed van der Heever as follows: “Thanks for the valued response. I am reminded of a statement by Dr Geoff Garrit, former President of the CSIR, who once said at a Board meeting - "this type of response is the Food of Champions". For the record, I fully agree with the following statement: "Gentlemen, we are hunting in the same forest. Maybe we should stop and share the spoils at the end of the day because we are all looking for exactly the same thing" Accordingly, I see merit in the co-existence of both organisations, but with clearly defined roles and responsibilities to be resolved by SIA and HRASA in a respected professional manner - no rocks, no glass houses, no losers or winners takes all. Indeed ..." There is work to be done”

keeping tracks • december 2007

Mike, Mark (and all interested members of the heritage movement whether intellectuals or pragmatists), unless we make it happen, nobody else will. If I can add value - and you deem this appropriate - I would be delighted to join the debate on how to do so! Let's join forces and thrash out the challenges facing the Heritage Movement. Sincerely yours in the interest of steam preservation. ED” We fully support Ed's request for dialogue and we will be meeting with interested HRASA parties shortly. This is the way to go. Thanks Ed for realising that we are a positive force in this rail heritage sector.

keeping tracks • december 2007


								
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