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Special replica train raises hundreds for charity

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An auction for The National Autistic Charity has raised £650 – after selling a one-of-a-kind model of the last high-speed train to run on the Midland Main Line.

The event was put together by East Midlands Railway and Mike Gray of Graystone Group to celebrate the retirement of the high-speed trains from the Midland main line earlier in the year. Up for grabs was a unique Brio replica model of the last train that ran from London St Pancras International.

Mike and his son made the train, and it was auctioned complete with a final journey headboard and presentation box. It was built to be compatible with Brio track.

Mike said creating the project was a way to help his autistic son adjust to not being able to see trains in real life during the pandemic. “We used to watch trains from the bridge on the way to nursery each morning but the pandemic hit and we couldn’t go out,” he said. “At that point we didn’t know my son was autistic, so when he became very distressed by not being able to go and see the trains, I started making models of the ones he used to see on the bridge to run on his Brio track. 

Debbie Halford from Long Eaton, Nottingham, was the lucky winner of the auction. She bought the model as a surprise gift for her friend, a lifelong HST fan and railway man, who will soon be celebrating a milestone birthday.

“Making the models became a fun way to get through the pandemic and helped both of us cope, I learnt new skills and we enjoyed playing together. 

“I decided to do the HST project because it was the most interesting subject to build for me. I have always been a huge rail enthusiast and big HST fan since I was four years old. 

“I wanted my son to experience the thrill of the HSTs too, so we watched a lot of YouTube to get the models right, as well as see the real trains and hear the sound. It took eight months of development to get the 3D CAD model right, then another two months for graphics. It took more than 1,000 hours of work in total.

“Now the pandemic is receding we can travel more and have been able to get out to see the real railway. Let’s just say my son is totally hooked.”

The model was designed and 3D-printed by Mike Gray and Graystone Group.

Mike posted a video of the finished train on his LinkedIn page: “To mark the end of HST passenger service on the Midland Main line, we built a full length 2+8 coach Swallow-livery HST with 43102 ‘Journey Shrinker’ at the front and 43159 at the rear. The model was designed and developed by us and then 3D printed using an Ultimaker machine and the talents of a very good friend.

“It’s a heavy train. Weighting in at 1.23kg, even with very powerful magnets holding the coaches together, it needs a smooth driving style. You can see the power car break away initially when we try and get it moving. Once you overcome inertia, its pretty fast (TOC’s main critira for a train) on our 3D printed track – not so quick on the traditional wood track though.

“The pictures didn’t really do it justice because its nearly two meters long, so we did a little video of us testing the train. Something fun for Sunday!”

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