Heritage Railway Association


HRA Appoints CEO - Stephen Oates

March 5th 2018


For immediate publication


 The Heritage Railway Association has appointed Stephen Oates as Chief Executive Officer, to help the company handle its increasingly busy role, supporting railways and members across the UK.

Speaking about the new position and the opportunities ahead, Steve Oates 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 4,000 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. …. And, most importantly, heritage 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. I look forward to supporting our member railways, promoting and increasing the profile of all that they do, and helping to ensure we keep this important part of our nations' history alive and flourishing for current and future generations to experience and enjoy.’

Unsurprisingly, Stephen is an experienced and enthusiastic heritage railway man. For more than 30 years he’s worked with the award-winning Isle of Wight Steam Railway, most recently as Chairman. He understands the opportunities and the challenges that face the UK’s heritage rail sector and the visitor economy. He also has wide commercial experience, having founded and managed a number of commercial radio stations, and served as Economic Development Manager for Chichester District Council.

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. I’m sure he’ll help us to develop the HRA for the future and, along with the rest of us, will provide guidance and help to our members when they require it. I’m looking forward to working with Stephen, for the benefit of all our members.’

The HRA is not only the voice of Britain’s heritage rail industry. It provides support across every possible aspect of heritage rail ownership, management and operation. In addition, it stages events for training, development, knowledge-sharing and entertainment. And it supervises the work of numerous specialist committees, and manages a vast and constantly-growing library of guidance notes, technical documents and information papers. Stephen Oates will have a hands-on involvement in all of the HRA’s work


1. Steve Oates, new Heritage Railway Association CEO (Photo credit: D M Farley)

2. ‘On the Footplate’ - Steve Oates, new Heritage Railway Association,  firing 198 ‘Royal Engineer’ on the Isle of Wight Steam Railway (Photo credit: Steve Castle/IWSR)

More information:

Contact:  Roger Carey, Carey Communications. 01296 688366 or 07973 873245, or roger.carey@carey-communications.com

Richard Barnes