HE’S the Hampshire born Oscar winner who has fallen in love with trains for his latest role.

Former Barton Peveril College student Colin Firth brings the courageous true story The Railway Man to the big screen.

It’s powerful stuff, telling the true story of Eric Lomax, an engineer and British Army officer who, the during Second World War, was captured and tortured at the hands of the Japanese, while being forced to help build the infamous ‘Death Railway’.

Eric, played by Firth, was eventually set free but suffered from posttraumatic stress disorder, which he later described in his autobiography, The Railway Man, originally released in 1995.

While Eric had a dark past, there was one thing that always made him smile – trains. From a young age he was fascinated with the railway.

“He had such a twinkle when he talked about it,” notes Firth of Eric, who passed away, aged 93, in 2012.

Such was Eric’s love of trains that when his book was reprinted in time for the film’s release, he asked for just one correction to be made.

“A detail about the brass fittings on one of the engines,” explains Firth. “It wasn’t about the big stuff, but it was very important to him.”

As it turns out, Eric’s obsession with trains was infectious and while reading his book, Firth found himself getting excited about engines too.

“I quite like trains anyway,” he admits. “But he imparted such delight in a world when these things were still new, it made me envy the steam age, how magnificent these monstrous machines were. So the books I got for research weren’t just about the Second World War, I started to get books about trains too.”

  •  Colin Firth’s full interview appears in tomorrow’s TV and Leisure Magazine, free with the Daily Echo.