RailCorp controls a rich and important heritage to which the State Government has allocated funding for conservation and display, with a commitment to significantly upgrade the Rail Heritage Centre at Thirlmere. The new centre will be upgraded to have a large exhibition hall as its main focus, complemented by a series of other outdoor and under-cover spaces. The large existing display shed is to be retained and made user-friendly and safe for visitors. The outcome is to embrace sustainable features and minimise energy consumption.

An exciting Main Exhibition Hall provides enclosed space for exhibits, both large and small, which need protection from the elements and has a rail platform alongside for travelling exhibitions, such as the Southern Aurora.

Working with exhibition designers HPA we have developed displays which tell the story of the history of the rail system in NSW, its technology and the lives of the people who worked in it. In a large existing shed, visitors will be able to engage with the main body of the centre’s rolling stock. Platforms with disabled access give visitors the opportunity to get close to and inside many of the locomotives and carriages.

The project boasts a variety of initiatives over a range of areas of concern for sustainability. The exhibition hall will not be air conditioned, but will be naturally ventilated to reduce energy consumption, with an under-floor hydronic heating/cooling system. On hot days, cold water will be pumped through the slab to provide cooler conditions and on colder days the system will reverse to pump hot water through the pipes to take the chill out of the air. There will be significant re-use of rainwater with the installation of a 100,000 litre tank which will supply water for the flushing of toilets, irrigation and wash-down.