In Doctor Who; Flatline (Season 8, episode 8) one of the trains was marked as the A113.

This is a common enough reference in American shows given that it's something of an in-joke for those who trained at the California Institute of the Arts, A113 being the room in which first year Graphic Art students are situated.

The official BBC "Fact File" even mentions it:

One of the train’s featured in Flatline is clearly numbered A113. This designation is often featured in films created by former students of California Institute of the Arts, referring to the classroom used by graphic design and character animation students. As such, A113 has appeared (with varying degrees of subtlety!) in TV shows such as The Simpsons and Family Guy plus movies including Toy Story, Monsters University and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

So what (or who) is the connection between Doctor Who and Cal Arts' A113?

Picture of train indicating running number

  • 9
    Since that train is almost certainly CGI, perhaps it was added by an animator who either went to the California Institute, or who knew about it. I can’t think of any connection exclusively between A113 and Doctor Who.
    – alexwlchan
    Oct 23, 2014 at 20:12
  • 6
    At this point, it's really a meme in those circles, so I am unsure that using it is a sign of somehow being materially connected to it. Oct 23, 2014 at 20:43
  • 4
    As British train identification 'headcodes' are always number-letter-number-number, it is not an attempt to be accurate to railway practice.
    – Chenmunka
    Oct 24, 2014 at 10:11
  • 2
    Random downvoter, whither goest thou?
    – Valorum
    Oct 24, 2014 at 19:32
  • 1
    “One of the train’s” — good lord, BBC. I don't pay my licence fee to see basic apostrophe errors like that. Jan 20, 2020 at 10:24

3 Answers 3


After extensive Googling, there doesn't seem to be a direct connection.

However, there does seem to be basis for thinking it's just a homage to Pixar and the A113 meme, because this isn't the only homage in that episode:

There's also a homage to Addams Family's "The Thing"

CLARA: No, I mean you move the Tardis. Like
CLARA [OC]: Addams Family.
(As the train bears down on him, the Doctor sticks his hand through the doors and turns the Tardis upright, then uses his fingers to walk along the concrete, over the recessed track and then slightly up a slope. He pulls his hand in and closes the door in order to celebrate with the Addams family theme tune.)
DOCTOR: Ha! Di di di. (transcript)

  • An interesting point, I'm not sure whether that's quite the same thing.
    – Valorum
    Dec 29, 2014 at 20:12
  • There's the other train as well. It's marked 2M65
    – Valorum
    Dec 29, 2014 at 21:40
  • I have never watched Doctor Who. It sounds neat, though. But yes, it's most likely just the A113 meme. Take +10 rep.
    – Kaz Wolfe
    Dec 30, 2014 at 13:13
  • In the absence of a word of god confirmation, I shall let the bounty auto-award this answer.
    – Valorum
    Jan 5, 2015 at 0:01
  • 1
    @Richard - I know the feeling, and can't blame you :( I just had to leave an award to an answer that was 100% wrong for my Story-ID question; because I couldn't find it myself and the only person to bother answering wasn't right - but it was a decent answer so it gained upvotes. I strongly disagree with auto-award concept. Jan 5, 2015 at 0:19

I actually work at the railway that the exact Dr Who episode was recorded at. To prove, I'm a volunteer at the Gloustershire Warwickshire Railway. (GWSR)

The train itself wasn't CGI, It was indeed real.

A113 is the route identification code which older trains used on British railways. The 'A' in the code A113 means that the locomotive was working a express diesel car service.

Hope this all solves your questions :-)

  • 3
    Amazing! How do you get your trains to look so fake?
    – KSmarts
    Feb 12, 2015 at 21:11
  • Are you saying that the train merely happened to have the code A113 on the front? Does that also explain the other code; 2M65?
    – Valorum
    Feb 12, 2015 at 21:16
  • 4
    Your proof of working there, if I read this correct, is the fact that you work there? Even if this is true, there's going to be few believers without a bit of evidence (the same as any answer): proof that the episode was recorded there, proof that an A113 train exists and is in use there, something to persuade us that the quite obviously CGI train isn't in fact CGI.
    – Mac Cooper
    Feb 12, 2015 at 22:33
  • Given that the train is obviously CGI, this answer appears to be facetious.
    – Valorum
    Feb 2, 2019 at 18:40

This story was indeed filmed at the GWSR and the location used was the Greet tunnel, a simple Google search off the GWSR and its connections with the Doctor Who episode will confirm this. The train and tunnel are very real although certain scenes were obviously CGI and on a set, however the location and train are real. I can't however and not convinced that A113 is a route as there's no reference to this on the GWSR website, it is imo most likely that the number was used by the FX department in homage to the classroom where they studied.

  • Which person in the FX dept studied at Cal Arts?
    – Valorum
    Jan 20, 2020 at 8:27
  • I wouldn't know, surely it's possible to find out?
    – Mickey D
    Jan 21, 2020 at 7:41
  • They other train seen bearing the number 2M65 is a route used by the GWSR railway, I would hazard a guess that this is the same DMU train that's seen with A113 and used for both parts of the story. They number A113 being added specially for the episode it was featured in
    – Mickey D
    Jan 21, 2020 at 7:47
  • Well, I've looked at the crew listing on IMDB and at the employee lists for the various FX studios credited and I can't see anyone who'd obviously have that connection
    – Valorum
    Jan 21, 2020 at 7:48
  • It's certainly a mystery!
    – Mickey D
    Jan 21, 2020 at 16:25

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