Monday, August 1, 2011

Simple rides, simple pleasures

London's Springbank train is simple but it provides a lot of simple pleasure.

The problem with the little train in London's Springbank Park, if there is a problem, is that it is just a ride and not transportation in any sense. It would be really cool if the little train actually went somewhere in the park; If it provided a unique form of in-park transportation.  "All aboard for the wading pool and playground!"

Our London train already has a station thanks to the Sifton family. The local London family, famous for such developments as Westmount and RiverBend, built the beautiful Springbank Express train station to celebrate 75 years in the construction business.

As a small boy I have very fond memories of the miniature train at the Detroit Zoo, officially known as the Tauber Family Railroad. That little railroad it still running today with two complete trains of six coaches. There is one standby locomotive. All three locomotives were donated by the Chrysler Corp. in the 1950s and Chrysler is still involved today.

Even a young child can see these trains are special.
What makes the Detroit set-up so neat, is that it serves a purpose other than giving kids with a simple ride; It actually fills a transportation need.

The railway still operates today as it did when I was boy, a family can board the train near the park entrance, ride to the back of the park and then stroll back through the zoo to finish at the front gate. Or a family can walk through the zoo, view all the exhibits and then board the train for a ride back to the zoo entrance. We never bought a round trip ticket. The little train was our transportation within the park.

If you'd like to know more, watch the little video.

And folk at The London Free Press please note the involvement of The Detroit News in Detroit's little railroad. Maybe instead of just asking what can be done to improve London, the paper should do what was done in the past and donate time and money to the city in which it operates and which has given the paper such a long and successful life.

Add some track, maybe some new and improved trains and let's go!

In researching this post I discovered that when the new station was built, new track was installed and the loop was moved to a spot closer to Storybook Gardens. See the Closed Canadian Parks Internet page; Scroll almost to the bottom. You will see a picture of an older Springbank locomotive and some interesting background information.

"It was reported that in 1999, plans were being made to connect the old and new track layouts so that people could use the (Springbank) train for transportation to the wading pool at the old location."

From the looks of things, the above didn't all happen. Too bad. The loop should be kept for the youngest of little riders who just want a short, simple ride.

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