For over 25 years, the VDMT has been acting as the Federal Special Interest Group for Heritage Railways. At its foundation in 1993, it was already obvious that such an institution was essential as just collecting historic vehicles and operating them with a view to public appeal was not enough anymore. Instead, one and a half decades after the ban on steam locomotives at the German Railways and 25 years after the railway reform; passengers, employees and supervising bodies started to request a bundled representation of the interests of museum and tourist railways. Today, the VDMT has more than 110 members from all over Germany (with the majority still coming from the old West German states). A few railway lines, however, have been added from the newly formed German states. Among them are the Harz Narrow Gauge Railways, the Molli Railway in Mecklenburg, the Radebeul–Radeburg Railway, and the Preßnitz Valley Railway. A further member is the Association of Saxon Train Enthusiasts.
There could be more members as the advantages for VDMT members are quite obvious: In a time when the demands on museum railways continue to rise, the German umbrella association serves as a useful link between the institutions that lay down the laws and legislations and the heritage railways subject to those laws. For passengers, museum railways are thrilling experiences as rolling technical monuments. For volunteers and technicians, they are historic objects; and for the leisure and tourism industry, they are tourist attractions. So, one of the VDMT’s primary goals is to support their members in their effort to provide the best operating conditions possible. Not only museum and tourist railways and railway museums can become members of the VDMT but also workshops, engineering offices, publishing houses or individuals feeling connected to the idea of museum railways in any way.