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The Man with a Train Car in His Basement

The Man with a Train Car in His Basement

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Canadian train enthusiast Jason Shron has a special place in his heart for VIA trains, Canada’s intercity passenger rail cars. His lifelong dream was to have a train car in his basement. When he was 12, he wrote VIA a letter asking if there was any way he could buy a seat from one of the trains, but the return letter said no.

Fast forward to his adulthood, when he heard that VIA coach #5647 was due to be scrapped. Luckily, he and a group of friends were able to get a hold of it. Four and a half years and over 2500 hours of build time later, right past the shelf of Doctor Who figurines and down a couple of stairs, Jason Shron has a train car in his basement with all the authentic bells and whistles. He started building the coach in May 2008 in a 12’x20′ pink room in the basement and finally finished in November 2011.

He writes:

We each have a favourite place: a place where we feel completely at home, where the stresses and headaches of daily life seem to melt away and we can just chill and regroup. My favourite place is on board the VIA train, especially on board the VIA trains of my youth, riding the Rapido between Toronto and Montreal. Now I have this special place in my house.

You can check out his construction progress shots through the years, from prepping and speccing the room to building the frame to adding all the authentic details (salvaged from coach #5647). The garbage can, coat hooks, 70s carpet, radiator covers, folding gate, first aid box, and comfy chairs are all there. He replaced the bathroom with his record collection and sound system, and he even added a photo mural of the next car that’s visible through the train doors, truly creating the illusion of being on a real train.

Oh, and Jason’s day job? He founded Rapido Trains Inc., a high-end manufacturer of model trains and accessories. He’s well known in the Canadian model railroad community, is author of the book, TurboTrain: A Journey, and runs the CanModelTrains discussion group.

Here are some shots of the interior, along with a great video tour that Jason gives. The best part is when he says: “You too can have a train in your basement. You need two things: you need to be completely insane and you need to have an amazing wife.”


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10 thoughts on “The Man with a Train Car in His Basement

  1. lrwickerdesign says:

    I like it!

  2. chuck says:

    There’s a house in my neighborhood (Seminole Heights, Tampa, FL) made from an old rail car.
    Also country music legend Merle Haggard grew up in a house made from a boxcar in Bakersfield, California. At the onset of the Depression when manufacturing (and thus shipping) took a great dive, the market was soon flooded with ‘scrap’ freight cars. There was also a huge migration west that led to a housing crunch in California. Soon boxcar houses began to spring up. It’s the historical precedent to today’s shipping container houses.

  3. Karl says:

    Perfect example of “do what you love, love what you do.” Trains aren’t my thing really but I would love to build one anyway. I can’t imagine bringing the car into my basement piece by piece though.
    Fantastic build with unique results, way to go!

  4. William Abernathy says:

    There was a neighborhood in San Francisco, Carville, built from old rail cars.,_San_Francisco

    Apparently, one cable-car-based home remains, hidden inside various additions.

  5. Doctor Nick (@Dr__Nick) says:

    Of all the trains to have as your room, he picked some sort of grungy commuter? I can see the romance of some past opulent trains, but the train he chose is just not a place I’d want to spend much time at all.

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I'm a word nerd who loves to geek out on how emerging technology affects the lexicon. I was an editor on the first 40 volumes of MAKE, and I love shining light on the incredible makers in our community. In particular, covering art is my passion — after all, art is the first thing most of us ever made. When not fawning over perfect word choices, I can be found on the nearest mountain, looking for untouched powder fields and ideal alpine lakes.

Contact me at or via @snowgoli.

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