Immersed in Trains

Dan and Jason in Jason’s office at Rapido HQ

I was watching an interview once with David Tennant, the star of Doctor Who between 2006 and 2010. He was talking about a past Doctor Who story, and he casually mentioned, “I think it was in the 1970s.” Rubbish. He “thinks” nothing. Despite being an international superstar, David Tennant was, is and always will be a complete and utter Doctor Who nut. He can tell you which story it was, who wrote it, who directed it, who guest starred in it, and probably the original air dates. But he was playing it cool and not appearing to be too fanboyish.

I take a completely different approach to my obsessions – I am an utter VIA train freak and I am proud of it. I will happily tell you the difference between VIA train seats built by Heywood-Wakefield, Mount Royal and Delta Furniture. I am not embarrassed to say that I can tell when a VIA coach was built by looking at its air conditioning condenser. And I am proud of the fact that I go to bed thinking about trains and wake up thinking about trains. OK, I also dream about Doctor Who and Star Trek. Yes, I am a Grade A, Class One, 100% nerd.

And chances are, if you are reading this, you have a little bit of nerd in you too.

Turbo prototype and LRC poster

The gorgeous Turbo prototype model and LRC poster.

This blog post is a clarion call to embrace your inner nerd self. Don’t pull a David Tennant and pretend you don’t LOVE trains. The top photo is of the new sign that Dan and I put up in my office. I used to spend a lot of time on the platform at Guildwood Station. I was very upset when I came back from England in 2004 to discover that the awesome 1970s signs had been thrown in the dumpster and I never got a chance to dive after them! So I designed an identical sign on my computer and had it printed. Now whenever I look up from my desk I am brought back to those days waiting for the Turbo at Guildwood when I was only three feet tall.

The Turbo prototype is a beauty I won on eBay for a steal – it’s one of CN’s originals. I cleaned up the paint and now it rests behind my desk at the office, along with the LRC poster I had framed almost 20 years ago. You might say, “This guy is a train manufacturer, so of course his office is filled with train stuff.” True, but I take the train stuff home as well.

VIA-inspired workshop

My workshop, tucked under the basement stairs

The photo above is in my tiny workshop. Those are VIA sleeper lights on the wall, and I have decorated the room in grey, blue and yellow. The CN box on the wall holds acrylic paint.

But the train stuff is not just buried in the basement…

VIA seats in the living room

VIA seats in the living room

Train stuff is a part of our everyday lives at home. Visible on the Heywood-Wakefield VIA seats (which came from RDC-9 #6005), you can see the Harry Potter book my son is desperate to read (he’s too young), as well as one of my daughter’s dolls (she’s trying to be just like Mummy, who just had a baby). The train stuff isn’t hidden away in a storage unit or a private museum – it’s a part of our daily lives. I love the fact that when we have guests over, two people generally sit in these train seats. I love the fact that my kids’ stuff is all over them. I love the fact that the train stuff shows anyone and everyone how important trains are in my life.

Club Car Seats

“Club Deluxe” seats in a corner of the bedroom

But the best thing about surrounding myself with all this VIA stuff is that I am reminded of my love for VIA trains, and my experiences riding VIA trains. It takes me back to good memories on board, trips across this country, great people I’ve met. And it allows my inner fanboy train nerd to come out of the closet and rejoice in its nerdiness.

It’s time you let your inner train nerd shine. Old train stuff can be found on auction sites, at hobby shops, and in antique shops. New train stuff – posters, signs, mugs, etc. – is available from countless online dealers. Surround yourself with railway artifacts that bring you back to those special memories. And embrace your obsession.