Chris Austin Appointed Heritage Trust President
The West Somerset Railway Heritage Trust is delighted to announce that Chris Austin OBE has accepted the role of President of the Trust. This is an honorary appointment. Chris succeeds Lady Elizabeth Gass who has stepped down from the role on health grounds.
Chris Austin has been a volunteer on the West Somerset Railway for 35 years and a member of the Trust for 14. He is a retired railwayman, actively engaged as a volunteer with a number of railway groups. He is currently secretary of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Heritage Rail, past Chairman of the Heritage Trust and a former PLC Chairman. He is a member and past president of the Retired Railway Officers’ Society and a member of the Avocet Line Rail User Group in Devon.
He retired in February, 2009 as Head of Public Affairs for the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC), after a railway career of 42 years. Prior to this, he was an Executive Director with the Strategic Rail Authority, responsible for producing the Government’s policy on Community Rail Development. In retirement he was a Board Member of the Association of Community Rail Partnerships until March 2016. He worked for British Rail for thirty years, finishing as the Board’s Director of Policy and Parliamentary Affairs.
Together with Lord Faulkner of Worcester, he has written two books on the social and political history of rail closures (Holding the Line, 2012 and Disconnected! Broken Links in Britain’s Rail Policy in 2015.)
He holds a Master of Arts degree from Cambridge University, is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport and was awarded the OBE in 2006 for services to the railway industry. In 2017 he was given a special contribution award by the West Somerset Railway on completing 30 years service as a volunteer, and in 2018, was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Association of Community Rail Partnerships.