At Inprotrans P/L we hold build drawings for many classes of South Australian Railway and Commonwealth Railway vehicles. They include steam and diesel electric locomotives, rail cars, passenger cars and freight rolling stock.
To maintain a library of approximately 200,000 drawings is very expensive and most of this financial burden is met by Inprotrans. We have a strong belief that the ex State and Federal technical railway drawings should remain accessible to all people and have struggled at many times over the years to keep this vision alive. We are under increasing pressure to give up and although the rail industry clients within Australia are happy to be a part of a user pay system it is only on a needs basis.
How do you put a price on a copy of a drawing when you have housed and maintained the drawing for 5 years between requests? If the true cost was charged when a drawing was required the cost would be prohibitive as reverse engineering or new engineering would be comparable in price. As we can't ask for full cost recovery we have set a reasonable charge for copies of drawings and underwrite the housing of the drawings with the retail aspect of our business. It is easy to see that this is not sustainable so we have embarked on a program of creating high quality scans to replace the original drawings and verify each drawing for usability from an engineering perspective. This will allow access to the drawings with much lower overheads and we hope will eventually be self sustaining. As part of this streamlining we are able to consider the needs of model makers and hobbyists and produce sets of drawings of interest at a reduced size and therefore reduced cost.
By grouping common drawings in sets we can reduce any time component of retrieval and offer usable interesting drawings at an affordable price.