A company which sells toy trains has received a serious response from the Department for Transport over a bid for the West Coast Mainline franchise, which praises its "vibrant livery" but ultimately rejects the offer over "crashworthiness".
The managing director of Bigjigs toys made the offer after a public row between Virgin trains, Firstgroup and the DfT over the bungling of the bids for the busy train line.
George Poole took advantage of the furore, writing in his letter to Transport Secretary that his train line would have no delays -"our track is not affected by sun, rain, snow, wind or leaves. Our trains run whatever the weather."
Bigjigs rail also pledges a "fair fare for all" as "our trains run on enjoyment and so our service will be free."
Poole paints a picture of a dynamic train company, more than willing to introduce beds for tired commuters, saying "We have enough trains to run frequent services- so no more cramped conditions for commuters; everyone gets a seat (we might even introduce beds at some stage)
The Bigjigs boss finishes with a flourish, saying their trains could more than adequately serve the 31 million passengers travelling on the busy line between London, the West Midlands, the north-west of England, North Wales and the central belt of Scotland.
The letter to Patrick McLoughlin
The letter obviously struck a chord with the Department for Transport as private secretary Mark Reach sent a personal letter back, advising of certain bureaucratic hurdles, but adding "your model now adorns my desk."
In the two page letter, Reach states "With regards your rolling stock I can see expert craftsmanship and high build quality." However he goes on to make a few technical recommendations, before the bid can be accepted, including replacing the wood with aluminium "to meet modern crashworthiness standards."
He also criticises the locomotive and coaches formation and suggests improving "ride quality."
A spokesperson for the Dft confirmed the letter was genuine. Despite Virgin being awarded the West Coast main line contract for a further 23 months, Bigjigs has said it is refining its bid.
Mr Poole told the Huffington Post UK: "We put forward the bid was because it was well documented in the public arena that the government had created a fiasco in dealing with the West Coast Main Line and it had cost the taxpayers thousands and thousands of pounds.
"The message I have for the DfT is this: We need to put some love back into the train journey. At the minute the commuters get a pretty rough deal: increasing fares, delayed services, overcrowded carriages etc. The train used to be a great mode of transport for all to enjoy, we want/need to get back to when we used to see the train as a fun way to travel."
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