Toy Company Bids to Run West Coast Mainline

10 January 2013
imports_CCGB_woodenrail_92272.jpg Toy Company Bids to Run West Coast Mainline
BigJigs told its wooden models don't meet "modern crashworthiness standards". ...

A toy company has had its bid to run the West Coast Main Line, using the wooden toy trains it produces, declined by the Department for Transport. In a rather humorous response by the DFT - showing they're not all miserable pencil pushers - private secretary Mark Reach explains that although he enjoyed receiving a model train and short section of track, the offer had to be declined due to stock not meeting "modern crashworthiness standards", among other reasons.

In October George Poole from Bigjigs wrote to the DFT suggesting it could take over the struggling line because it "has been running efficient and cost effective services since 2005, and have had many customers over the years who are delighted with the service we offer". Some other reasons it felt it would be a good contender included the fact it has never had an accident, it has enough trains to run frequent services and "a 'fair' fare for all - our trains run on enjoyment and so our service will be FREE".

Well, this amusing letter actually got a response from the DFT who went into great detail about why the wooden toy trains wouldn't be suitable for the West Coast Mainline. They included:

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  • While perfect the in-home market, wooden carriages are unlikely to meet modern crashworthiness standards for operation on the heavy rail network. Aluminium might be a better bet.
  • Though traditional, a locomotive and coaches formation does not use all available scarce space with the maximum train length. Please remember that the maximum length of a train on the WCML is around 260m. May I suggest a multiple unit?
  • Your ration of 1/3 first class, 1/3 standard and 1/3 guard's van is rather wasteful of space. Perhaps building accomodation for the guard's van into the first class coach would be a good approach.
  • From my inspection, the carriage bodies are attached rigidly to the bogeys. To take advantage of higher speeds on the WCML, it will be necessary to retrofit a tilting mechanism.
  • I note that your current design employs only two axles per carriage. This is likely to result in poor ride quality at high-speed (you will be aware that class '14x' Pacers use this setup and are limited to 75mph). Four may be more appropriate.


Bigjigs has now said it will made a "few minor changes to the bid" and resubmit it. Good luck to them, it would be nice to see a wooden Bullet Train speeding towards London on the WCML.