Jason Shron is The Guy with the Train in his Basement
The train-obsessed fanatic spent four and a half years or 2,500 hours and roughly $10,000 to reconstruct an actual Via Rail passenger coach in the basement of his Vaughan home.
“I love VIA trains so much I built one in my house,” Shron said. “This is where I feel most comfortable, I have been collecting Via stuff for years. The details make it so real to me.”
After learning a former Via coach was going to be scrapped, Shron purchased the mothballed car, gathered a group of railfan friends and tore apart the coach to rebuild in his basement.
“We each have a favorite 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 favorite 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,” said Shron, who doesn’t like to fly.
Shron owns Rapido Trains Inc., a model train company, and works from home using the train car as an office.
One of Rapido’s first ventures into the world of miniature was an incredible replication of the United Aircraft TurboTrain. Shron masterfully crafted an HO-scale version of the iconic speedster, which first hit Canadian rails in 1968.
The Turbo, which still holds the Canadian rail speed record of 140.6 mph, was inexplicably removed from service by Via Rail in October 1982, despite its popularity and reliability. The Turbo was scrapped and, pathetically, none of the Turbo sets were preserved for museums. No VIA train today can match the Turbo for style and speed.
The cover of a Via brochure on the Turbo takes up residence on one wall of the basement railcar.
“My home is my office. My kids play (inside the train car) and I have friends over for drinks,” he said. “My friends know me and know I have been obsessed by trains since I was two-years-old.”
Everything in the train car is authentic.
Shron had Via napkins and stirs sticks made in China, and he has replica train tickets.
The kitchen has actual Via tea cups and plates and the luggage storage area has become a bar.
The washroom has been turned into a music room where Shron also stores his vintage records and stereo, which can also play train sounds on demand.
Because the train car was decommissioned in the 1980s, Shron kept the smoking permitted sign because lighting up was allowed at the time.
The eight-seat cabin chairs are also the real deal and can swivel in their position.
“I love how these seats have been across Canada,” Shron said. “This is a warm comfortable place. To do this you have to be completely insane and have a wonderful wife.”
And Shron and his family have no plans to move.
“I want to live here forever,” he said. “Besides the house is only worth a dollar with a train in the basement.”
Shron has a very large basement and plans to build a model railroad, something he says will take about 30 years.
“It is essentially a massive passenger switching layout. The vast majority of operation will take place between Spadina Yard and Union Station. Union Station and Spadina will be on the lower deck, while the upper two decks will be Guildwood-Oshawa and Kingston-Brockville,” Shron said.
“Have I gone too far? My answer is no,” he said. “We each only get one kick at the can — there are no second chances.”