This is a forthright update on production issues at Rapido's factory.
Rapido News UK Volume 7A - ©2016 Rapido Trains Inc.
Dear Rapido Customer,

I know it's usually Bill writing these missives (or his underpaid ghostwriter chained to the walls of his cellar). But I'm dropping you a quick note from China. I've been here since last week, which is frustrating as I was supposed to be on holiday with my kids in Canada. But sometimes my gut tells me I need to go to China, and as usual where the factory is concerned, my gut was right.

I'm giving you this personal update on what's happening here because two of our UK projects have been the most affected by it.
Rapido in China
Rapido's core team in China: Zhou, Huang, Some Nut, and Colin.
Colin NEVER smiles for photos so Some Nut is smacking him on the arm.
That's the nicest vegetarian restaurant in Chang'An. Er... it's the ONLY vegetarian restaurant in Chang'An.
I'm heading there tonight for the sixth time this week. Their staff have all gone for counselling.
We've been producing trains in China since 2005, and our current factory - which we started with Huang and Zhou in 2013 - is our third. It's a small facility with about 40 employees. The trouble is that it's become too small for us. Rapido has more than doubled in size since 2013, and our little factory can't handle it.

In 2015 we were happily sending out models to stores and distributors well before their scheduled arrival date. However, it was our first UK model, the APT-E, that really stress-tested our factory. This project was a huge challenge for us, mainly in terms of engineering, but if reviews and customer feedback are anything to go by then we passed this trial with flying colours.

Once the dust had settled it was clear that the APT-E had taken twice as long to manufacture as we had budgeted for. We consider the time we put into the model well worth it, but this put the following round of North American production behind schedule.

We weren't able to make up time on the two North American projects so the delay rolled over to the start of the Revolution Trains N gauge TEA production. We've been working on this great little tanker for the last couple of months. It's a surprisingly complex wagon, with five different body/detail variations. And to be completely honest with you, we have never done a model with this many little logos and warnings and other printed doo-dads... not even close!
TEA tank wagon
Printing logos on the TEA tank wagon
So what we thought would take one month to produce is actually taking us three months to work through the production process, and this has pushed our schedule back yet again.

(Incidentally, you can watch a video of us printing the logos on this Greenergy tank wagon on our Facebook page.)

The N gauge TEA tank wagons will leave our factory at the end of this month (all going well).

What all this means is that we won't be able to start production of the Pendolino until later in the autumn. Ideally we'd go straight onto this model but we can't just make Revolution's products (as much as we like Ben and Mike). We have a lot of North American models that need to be made as well, chiefly the Budd RDC.

(The good news is you can still order your Pendo if you missed the deadline. There is no point in refusing orders if we can't start production yet. Contact Revolution if you live in Europe or visit if you live anywhere else. We'll have the order links active later today.) 
Pendolino assembly
One of our engineers assembles the latest Pendolino injection samples.
We do have a plan to get us out of this pickle and the main reason I am in China is to set up Rapido factory number 2. We've toured a couple of industrial parks and we've interviewed an engineer with over 20 years' experience working in the model train industry. He looks very promising, and he knows a lot of experienced guys in the industry who would be willing to join our new team.

Today we visited a new mould shop in another city in Guangdong province and we were blown away by the quality of its castings. They were perfect right out of the moulds without any clean-up work, which will considerably speed up assembly time on future models.

We should have the new facility up and running within the next two months and then you will see the Revolution and other UK models start to pick up speed. Unfortunately until then we are still limited by our small size.

That's it, really. I'm not going to pretend that all is hunky dory. But I can assure you that we're working on increasing our capacity.

I'll leave you on a humorous note. People in China love to wear English on their shirts, even though they have no clue what the English letters say. Often the letters are just a random jumble, but occasionally you get some real classics like the one below.

Trust me, it's not tongue-in-cheek. This is meant to be stylish.
Chinese T-Shirt
Now that's classy.
When I walked into the shop, the assistant was rather shell-shocked. I asked her in Chinese: "Do you get a lot of foreigners in your store?" Her response: "Never. You are the first."

On that note, I hope you have a great rest of the summer. We'll be in touch soon.

All the best, 


Jason Shron
Rapido Trains Inc.