The traditional civil servant, with his bowler hat and rolled umbrella, might not have seen the joke.
When a bid arrived at the Department for Transport from the Folkestone-based toy firm, BigJigs, offering to take over the troubled West Coast rail franchise, he might have thought it too silly to merit a moment of his time.
But Mark Reach, private secretary to Patrick McLoughlin, the Transport Secretary, instead sent back a detailed reply, querying the “crashworthiness” of BigJigs’ wooden carriages and whether two sets of wheels per carriage are enough.
He also suggested that the allocation of space on BigJigs trains, which consist of a locomotive, two carriages and a guard’s van, would be inefficient.
But on a more positive note, he concluded: “Your vibrant livery would certainly brighten up the railway.” A spokesman for BigJigs Rail said: “We are going to make a few minor changes to the bid and resubmit it.”