Ac­cord­ing to Chris…

Fresh from his trip to Canada, Chris gives us an in­sight into Rapido Trains.

Model Rail (UK) - - Contents -

This sum­mer’s Cana­dian hol­i­day was even more of a rail­way indulgence than in the past, if only be­cause I had just over two weeks and a lot to cram in. Here’s a brief trip re­port. No stay in Toronto would be com­plete these days with­out pay­ing a call on Rapido Trains. It’s a half-hour trip from down­town to Markham, cu­ri­ously op­er­ated by train in the morn­ing and bus in the af­ter­noon. Com­pany Pres­i­dent Ja­son Shron was away on hol­i­day, so I had lunch with the rest of the team – take­away fish and chips in the ‘board room’. Since my pre­vi­ous visit, three more staff have joined Rapido and two of them have spe­cific re­spon­si­bil­ity for war­ranty re­pairs. We talked a lot about the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion with Chi­nese-pro­duced ready-to-run mod­els, qual­ity con­trol and de­liv­er­ies, par­tic­u­larly in light of the clo­sure of one fac­tory and the wild ru­mours and alarmist non­sense which had promptly cir­cu­lated on the fo­rums. The clo­sure re­sulted from the owner’s re­tire­ment and has af­fected sev­eral US cus­tomers but not Rapido or any of the UK model com­pa­nies. One of the pres­sures which is af­fect­ing de­liv­er­ies of mod­els from China is the de­lay in mov­ing containers from Van­cou­ver. Most of these come over the Cana­dian Na­tional route, many sim­ply us­ing Canada as a land bridge and be­ing reloaded onto ships in east coast ports such as Hal­i­fax for the At­lantic cross­ing to Europe. CN is short of ca­pac­ity and containers can now take sev­eral weeks to cross from Van­cou­ver. Among the items I was able to ex­am­ine was the ‘J70gti’, the first sam­ple of our ‘J70’, which was too high geared. I also saw sam­ples of the Cana­dian Pa­cific ‘Royal Hud­son’ 4-6-4. This mighty beast is Rapido’s first large steam lo­co­mo­tive. It boasts a weighty die-cast body and geared drive to all six cou­pled wheels, which should make it im­mensely pow­er­ful. Later in the week I took the bus out to Mis­sis­sauga, to visit the Credit Val­ley Rail­way Com­pany, which is a model rail­way store in which I can eas­ily lose my­self for hours. My credit card took a beat­ing! I bought a DCC sound-equipped ‘FP9’ lo­co­mo­tive which they not only tested for me (re­turns can be ex­pen­sive when you’re this far away) but also changed the de­coder ad­dress. We then agreed that nei­ther of us liked the horn sound, so that got changed too, a job which I still con­sider to be be­yond my DCC skills. After Toronto, I flew to Sud­bury, where the line to White River be­gins, as fea­tured in Chris Tar­rant’s Ex­treme Rail Jour­neys on TV. While in Sud­bury, I took the bus to Capreol and the North­ern On­tario Rail Mu­seum. Among the ex­hibits here is ‘Bul­let-nose Betty’, CNR 4-8-2 No. 6077. Apart from the Chi­nese 4-8-4 No. KF7 at the Na­tional Rail­way Mu­seum, this must rank as the largest lo­co­mo­tive I have ever seen. On a very hot af­ter­noon I took the ad­vice of the mu­seum staff and went across to their Her­itage Cen­tre, where I was shown a splen­did vin­tage fire truck and asked, “Would you like to see our model rail­way?” I was taken down into a base­ment where a lo­cal group has built a splen­did per­ma­nent ‘HO’ lay­out. This dis­play had taken a mere 18 months to build, us­ing mainly com­mer­cially avail­able mod­els and kits. It is amaz­ingly de­tailed and ‘busy’ and yet op­er­ated by con­ven­tional ana­logue con­trol.

Above: Capreol’s rail­way mu­seum in minia­ture is part of an ex­ten­sive ‘HO’ scale lay­out in the base­ment of the former fire sta­tion.

Left: With an empty per­ma­nent way train in tow, CN No. 2628 over­takes a long dou­ble-stack con­tainer train, right out­side Rapido’s back door.Be­low: ‘Bul­let-nose Betty’ CNR 4-8-2 No. 6077 at the North­ern On­tario Rail­way Mu­seum and Her­itage Cen­tre in Capreol.

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