We'd love to award you West Coast franchise... but your trains are too small, Folkestone's Bigjigs Toys told
from Folkestone-based BigJigs Toys, with a model train
by Sam Lennon
A civil servant has sent a tongue-in-cheek reply to a Kent toy
train firm's bid to take over a rail franchise.
Folkestone-based Bigjigs Toys had written to the Department of
Transport asking for the West Coast Main Line contract after it was
bungled by government officials.
"Your vibrant livery would certainly brighten up the railway. Good luck in refining your proposal…” – civil servant Mark Reach
The official has now written back praising the firm's "expert
craftsmanship" in its rolling stock, but saying its wooden
carriages could be a safety issue.
Mark Reach, private secretary at the Department for Transport,
said: "I am afraid there are some necessary bureaucratic hurdles
you will need to overcome before you are able to run passenger
services on the national rail network.
"Notwithstanding, your vibrant livery would certainly brighten
up the railway. Good luck in refining your proposal."
Last October, the government scrapped its decision to award the
13-year WCML franchise to the company FirstGroup over Richard
Branson’s Virgin Trains.
It was abandoned after civil servants
made faulty calculations and provided ministers with incorrect
It was estimated it would cost £40million to reimburse the four
firms involved for the cost of their bids.
Straight after this, George Poole, marketing co-ordinator at
Bigjig at West Park Farm Industrial Estate, wrote to transport
secretary Patrick McLoughlin (pictured left).
He said his firm's wooden trains had no delays, overcrowding or
accidents, the lines were not affected by snow or leaves and that
the service charged no fares.
Mr Poole also sent Mr McLoughlin a model train and section of
track, and Mr Reach’s reply said: "Your model now adorns my
Mr Poole said: "We were pleasantly surprised to get that letter
from the DfT. The writer had a sense of humour.
"He mentioned that the maximum length of WCML trains are 260
metres. Ours are no more than 34 centimetres."
- Click here for more Ashford news...
- Click here for more news from across the county...