19 January 2012: DfT launch consultation document on the proposed abolition of the Railway Heritage Committee

The consultation is seeking views on both the proposed abolition of the Railway Heritage Committee and on the transfer of its designation function to the Board of Trustees of the Science Museum.
Read the consultation document

21 June 2011: Reception in House of Commons

Theresa Villiers MP, the minister of state for railways, was generous in her praise for the work of the railway heritage industry at a packed reception sponsored by the HRA in the House of Commons on Tuesday 21 June, at which she was guest of honour.
Read report from rail.co

11 May 2011: Comment in Rail Magazine

Nigel Harris of Rail Magazine shares his thoughts on the latest developments following the axeing of the RHC
Read article here

22 March 2011: Update on the future of the Railway Heritage Committee

Letter from the Secretary of State in the Department of Transport to Lord Faulkner of Worcester outlining discussions and proposals on the future of the Railway Heritage Committee
Read content of letter

28 February 2011: Public Bodies Bill

Watch video footage of proceedings of the debate on Monday 28 February when Lord Faulkner of Worcester moved Amendment 46 referring to the Railway Heritage Committee.

See Hansard entry for contribution in full

My proposition is that the RHC ceases to be a non-departmental public body in the Department for Transport and that its functions and statutory powers are administered by the National Railway Museum on behalf of the National Museum of Science and Industry

1 February 2011: Railways: Heritage Sector

The status and role of the Railway Heritage Committee is about to change as a result of the Government's decision to include it in the Public Bodies Bill. I shall not anticipate the debate that we are due to have in Committee on that Bill, other than to say that we are very close indeed to agreeing a way forward that would provide for the statutory powers and duties of the committee to be transferred to the Science Museum.
Hansard report

Public Bodies Bill [HL] 2nd reading

Speaking in the House of Lords on 9 November, Lord Faulkner of Worcester made an impassioned appeal for the retention of the Railway Heritage Committee.

"I was going to make a speech about a public body with which I have a particular interest and which I had the honour to chair until 2009, standing down when I became a Minister in the Government Whips' Office: the Railway Heritage Committee. It is a body which has a link with Henry VIII because, as your Lordships may recall, Benjamin Disraeli predicted as long ago as 1845, in his novel Sybil, that the railways will do as much for mankind as the monasteries did. This is a debate which I want to have on another occasion and in Committee with the Minister.

However, I make the point now that that is a committee with a budget that costs the taxpayer little more than £100,000 a year. That can be reduced further, but that budget would have to be enhanced because the National Railway Museum will in future have to spend at least that amount of money on buying the artefacts and records which, at present, it gets for nothing.

It is staffed entirely by volunteers - there is only one paid employee - and works with the grain of the railway industry and the heritage railway section. It was established by three separate Acts of Parliament, two passed by Conservative Governments and one, most recently, by the Labour Government in 2006. It is a body which fulfils the functions that were set out by the Minister standing at the Conservative Dispatch Box in 1996, to the letter, and has never attracted any criticism or scandal.

It was abolished, or at least it is facing abolition, as the result of a single sentence in a Department for Transport press release, with no consultation whatever. The only warning that the members of the committee and the industry had that something was coming was the leak in the Daily Telegraph on 23 September.

As a consequence of that, over 30 individuals, ranging from some very high-profile in international organisations - the Heritage Railway Association itself, the Keeper of the Records of Scotland, Sir William McAlpine and others - all wrote to the Minister begging her to think again before including it in the list for abolition. To no avail, though; that organisation is in Schedule 1 of the Bill.

I hope that it will be possible, when we get into Committee, to do something about this deplorable state of affairs and that we can do something that recognises the importance of railway heritage in the tourist sector and in the economy more generally."

Hansard report

The Railway Heritage Committee
The Railway Heritage Committee is a statutory body operating under the authority of the Railway Heritage Act 1996 as amended by the Railways Act 2005. It has the function of 'designating' records and artefacts still within the ownership of the post-British Rail (BR) industry which are historically significant and should be permanently preserved.

The Committee also has the function of agreeing which institutions will hold those records or artefacts so designated when no longer required by the railway business that owns them, and the terms under which they will be offered to those institutions.

The Railway Heritage Trust is concerned with the conservation and enhancement of buildings and structures owned by Network Rail or BRB (Residuary) Ltd that are either listed, scheduled Ancient Monuments, in Conservation Areas, or are of special architectural or historical interest

The Heritage Railway Association is a trade grouping that represents the majority of heritage and tourist railways and railway preservation groups within both the UK and Ireland.

Lord Faulkner of Worcester
Appointed to the House of Lords in 1999, Lord Faulkner is a life long railway enthusiast.

He relinquished his chairmanship of the Railway Heritage Committee in 2009 on his appointment as a Minister for Transport in the last Government.

Previously he held the post of Vice-President of the Campaign for Better Transport (formerly Transport2000) with which environmental transport body he has been associated for over 25 years.