Australian Society of Section Car Operators Inc


The Australian Society of Section Car Operators, Inc. was founded in South Australia in late 1999.

The idea for a group set up to run section cars became a reality in 1997, with the proclamation of the Rail Safety Act 1996. Prior to that, section cars were operating on various railways under goodwill agreements. Perhaps the pioneer is the now defunct Steamtown.

It was at Proper Bay, located just south of Port Lincoln, during August and September 1999, in that the formalisation of what was to become ASSCO really got going. There had been some other discussions at various "bashes", including one on the now defunct Limestone Coast Railway, where interest seemed to be enough to make the group a feasible project. The final agreement to incorporate an entity was made in Port Lincoln, South Australia, in early December, 1999, with the incorporation taking place Mid December, 1999, with seven members.

Work began immediately to develop the Safety Management System needed for accreditation.

A considerable effort was put into getting the SMS ready for accreditation. The application was lodged in April, and interim accreditation was given in June, 2000. Only a few minor tweaks were made.

Full accreditation was not granted until April 2001, when ASSCO signed an access agreement with NRG Flinders. Signing with NRG got an interesting response from the Regulator, as they thought ASSCO were considering operating only on heritage - a review of the Act and away we went.

The groups first run was on the Leigh Creek Coal Line. The operator was amongst the first to give us a positive response, despite lots of work with the heritage sector. This trip took place over the Easter Long weekend, 2001, and was a huge learning curve. Being novices, the trip resulted in a number of improvements to the SMS.

The groups operational experience grew, accessing other railway lines in South Australia, and in 2003, in Queensland. This created a new accreditation in that jurisdiction.

The insurance crisis of 2003-2004 laid the group low for a while, but a number of innovative solutions initiated by its Board, saw it operational again in late 2004 when it accessed the now closed Kingaroy Line in Queensland. This is despite some bitter and aggressive attempts from some to have it shut down.

Its last run in SA was on the Lions Club of YP Rail Line between Wallaroo and Bute.

During 2011, an audit by the SA and QLD reguators identified significant issues with its RSMS, which prompted it to surrender accreditation in South Australia.

in 2019, it again experienced issues with its RSMS and was affected by regulatory action. Its RSMS was out of date and its “safety culture... left a lot to be desired”. it is understood the “recommendation made” internal to the ONRSR in 2020 was for their accreditation to be withdrawn.

Following a rewrite of the RSMS by a paid consultant, it recommenced operations.

It did propose operations into NSW but this has not progressed.

It did produce a magazine, but this seems to have gone off the boil - archived copies are held at the State Library in Adelaide.

ASSCO operates only in Queensland.

ASSCO website -


Top - Pichi Richi Railway

Left - Yeppoon Line

Above - YP Rail

Below - Cover to Trackside