About Us


Our History

In 1983 as an initiative of the then Chief Executive of State Rail Mr. David Hill, a small working party met to investigate the feasibility of returning one of the 38 class steam locomotives to working order. Attention was focused on the class leader, 3801, as the best existing exhibit for restoration. At that time, the Hunter Valley Training Company were seeking job skill training work for out-of-trade power industry apprentices caused by a recession in the Hunter Valley. As a consequence, HVTC undertook the restoration of 3801 over a 3-year period from November 1983 to November 1986 during which time some 300 apprentices worked on it, learning their trade in the process.

With the locomotive set to return to service, 3801 Limited was incorporated on the 5th June 1985 at the behest of the State Rail Authority as a company limited by guarantee for the prime purpose of maintaining and running locomotive 3801 and its train for the benefit of the people of NSW. This we did with great success for some 20 years, carrying over half a million passengers and operating a regular program of tour and charter trains to a variety of destinations both in NSW and interstate. During this period, 3801 ran to destinations such as Alice Springs, Canberra, and every mainland state capital, most notably hauling the Bicentennial Train in 1988 and performing an extensive year of tours alongside the famous Flying Scotsman.

With the return of Locomotive 3801 to predecessors of Transport Heritage NSW in 2006, we continued to focus on our passenger experiences, delivering a range of tours to the public with a wide range of historic steam and diesel locomotives.  We also continued to work on the restoration and maintenance of rolling stock.  Recent highlights have included the return to service of lounge car CAM502 and diesel locomotives 42101 and X54, all of which are now regular fixtures in the roster alongside the rest of our locomotive and carriage fleet.

East Coast Heritage Rail - A New Chapter

Our Cockatoo Run, proudly operated since 1995, Hawkesbury River ExpressBlue Mountaineer and other mainline tours that we run are what our passengers know and love. Whilst we operate many interesting and important items of rolling stock that the rail community loves to see, the travelling public value the experience of our heritage rail tours, enjoying time with family and friends, and reflecting on the role that rail has played in developing Australia.

Accordingly, in 2019 we decided to rebrand as East Coast Heritage Rail (ECHR), to reflect our broader goals and the widening scope of our operation since we were first formed in 1985. We are rightly very proud of our past and the success we enjoyed in the operation and maintenance of locomotive 3801, however the time was right to make a statement of what we intend to do in the future.

We wish to be a safe, sustainable and collaborative organisation that works to improve and promote heritage rail, across all of Australia. We look forward to working with other groups and people to help everyone achieve their and our goals, and for the heritage rail sector in NSW in particular to become stronger as a result.

ECHR is an organisation whose purpose is to preserve railway heritage for the enjoyment of the public by operating tour trains. We are a not-for profit company, and all surplus funds are directed to ongoing restoration and maintenance of our trains.

ECHR operates day tours and charters out of Sydney, as well as scheduled services to the Illawarra and Southern Highlands.  If you would like more information on these tours please browse these pages, call our office on 1300 65 3801, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin.

Note to regulators, suppliers and customers:

Our legal name, ACN and ABN (64 002 951 671) remain unchanged, and all associated trademarks and brands remain the property of 3801 Limited. We remain accredited as a railway operator and registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission.

Our Values


Safety is our number one priority.  All things else are secondary.  We will not compromise on this.


We desire to operate in a manner that is repeatable, respecting financial, operational, people and environmental aspects of sustainability.


Volunteers and members will work as a team within the company and with other organisations.  There are no individuals, and the success of the team is to be put before that of the individual.


We value our rail heritage and its role in the development of NSW and Australia.  We aim to preserve it for the benefit of today’s and future generations.

Our Purpose

• The promotion of railway tours using historic locomotives and rolling stock

• The maintenance of heritage locomotives and carriages in operating condition

• The acquisition and lease of historic railway rolling stock

• The restoration and commissioning of historic railway rolling stock

• Collaboration with kindred rail heritage organisations, including sharing of heritage rolling stock and joint activities

• The use of heritage locomotives and crews for passenger, freight, rail work trains and restoration services on request.

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