Wight chairman takes on top role with the HRA


ISLE of Wight Steam Railway chairman Stephen Oates has been appointed as chief executive officer of the Heritage Railway Association.

Stephen, who has been with the IoWSR for more than 30 years, has wide commercial experience, having founded and managed a number of commercial radio stations, and served as economic development manager for Chichester District Council.

Steve Oates, new Heritage Railway Association chief executive officer, firing Hunslet Austerity 0-6-0ST WD198 Royal Engineer on the Isle of Wight Steam Railway. STEVE CASTLE/IWSR

He said: “Heritage railways are important. They are important to the nation’s visitor economy attracting some 10 million visitors each year; they retain and nurture important skills, and employ some 4000 people; they are important to local communities, providing interest and participation for around 18,500 volunteers; they are important to the wider economy, together contributing over £250million of economic impact.

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“Railways preserve and present a once essential part of this country’s rich transport landscape. So I’m excited and extremely privileged to be appointed to head-up and lead the heritage railway industry’s national trade and membership organisation.”

HRA chairman Brian Simpson, OBE, said: “We’re delighted to appoint Stephen to this exciting, challenging and new role within our organisation. His experience inside and outside the heritage railway sector gives him the kind of knowledge and experience that we felt the HRA needed at this time.”

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