Jason Shron’s obsession with trains began back when he was just two years old. He spent it crying on a train ride from Toronto to Montreal, after feeling lost while wandering too far away from his parents. Ever since, his life was placed on the right track.
Today, Shron has revolved his life around trains and now makes a living off his obsession. He’s known as the “The Guy with the Train in his Basement”, for having built a real VIA Rail passenger car in his Thornhill, Ont. home, using reclaimed parts.
Shron currently runs a business called Rapido Trains Inc., where he sells model trains and merchandise.
“If there’s one message that I want everyone to know is that [if] you have a dream, you follow it,” Shron told students at Centennial College in East York on March 27, 2017.
He manufactures the trains in China, where every detail is put into his trains. The trains aren’t cheap, but he says hobbyists and serious collectors feel they’re worth it with the crazy amount of detail that goes into these trains.
“Our models have the faucets on the sinks, in the bathrooms that you can’t see. The customers ask me, ‘Why is it there?’ and I say ‘Because it’s on the real thing!'” Shron said.
When Shron built an identical version of a VIA train passenger car in his basement, the project took over four years to complete. He credits a very patient wife. Shron now uses it to lounge around, listen to the sounds of music and also to the sounds of a train. It has even been a host to a Luminato event, and is often featured in Shron’s YouTube videos.
Shron tried pursuing other careers, such as working as an academic, after studying for his PhD in history in England. However, finding a posting at a Canadian university proved impossible, since no one was hiring.
“I applied to all these history departments across Canada and it would take 20 years before there was availability. I asked my wife to let me make the model train thing work. She said ‘OK'”, Shron said.
Shron and his family support his obsessions with trains. His three kids cover the house floors with their own train sets and models, and he says they enjoy them as much as their father did when he was a boy.
“My son asked me the other day, ‘Daddy is there a dream you have that you haven’t done yet?’” Shron revealed. “I achieved most of it. I worked very hard to get where I am.”
Next up for him: building a scale model of track between Kingston to Brockville. Where? In his basement, of course.