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Bad Ballast is the eighth episode of the tenth season.

Bad Ballast
Season 10, Episode 8
Air date December 27th, 2012
Written by MainLineEngines
Directed by MainLineEngines
Episode guide
Christmas Day
New Year Problems


Maron is the station at the bottom of Gordon's Hill, heading to Barrow that is. It was two weeks before Christmas, and Delete was making good time with the Wild Nor' Western.

"It's hard," he panted, "but I can do it."

As he left the station, he felt the rails sag below him.

"The ballast must be weak," he thought.

His Driver noticed it too.

"We better tell the Fat Controller," Delete called.

They reached Barrow-in-Furness safely, turned round, and headed home, and told the Fat Controller about it.

"I'll make arrangements," he said.

The next day, James was excitedly backing down to the midday Express. He usually never took the Express, since Henry and Delete acted as 'back ups', so he was stuck with goods and ocassional stopping passenger trains.

The Fat Controller was on the platform.

"Hullo, Sir. Why are you out here? Are you coming to see me pull the Express?" he asked.

"Actually, I needed to talk to you," he said. "It's about the weak ballast at Maron. I'm sure you've heard of it. David can take one ballast train a day. On his three o clock goods, but he is too busy on Edward's Branch Line to be the permanent engine."

"So, who's going to do it. I'd recomned Percy."

"Actually James. I've realized you have the time to be the permanent engine."

It took James a couple seconds to actually realize what the Fat Controller had just said.

"WHAT?! ME! Trucks, goods!"

"Yes, you. Trucks, goods."

"No! I wont."

"You will, on my orders. If we don't fix it, it can cause an accident. Remember Christmas is in two weeks."

"I don't see how it's important," James grumbled as the Guard blew the whistle.

James was returning from Brendam and met David at Tidmouth.

"Hullo, David."

"Hullo, James."

"How do you handle trucks so well?"

"Well, I can't explain really, but over time I've learned tricks to stop the trucks' tricks. And besides my brothers and I were built for goods alone. I've only pulled passengers twice. Why?"

"Well, it's because I, well, ..."

"Got put on goods duties to repair the ballast at Maron. I figured you were to be given the job. Sorry I couldn't help out."

"It's alright."

Somehow, Henry and Gordon knew about this when he arrived.

"Here he comes," said Henry.

"James, James, James the Red Engine. How pleasent to see you," Gordon greeted.

"So, by any chance do you know the engine who is not us, Edward, the Ffarquhar Branch engines, David, the Diesels, or Dodger that is repairing the ballast at Maron."

"How do you know?"

"The Fat Controller always tells us everything, because we are special," Gordon replied, and the two burst out laughing.

James was rough with the trucks for the next two days. He returned to Tidmouth Sheds, furious, fed up with the 'most unimportant job around Christmas time'.

On the third day, he collected a ballast train around 11 o clock.

Oliver had warned him, but James was now wondering how to get himself off ballast duties.

"Hey, let's bump him," the trucks whispered but they waited until the 'stop point'.

The 'stop point' was the point that was safe enough to unload the ballast trucks.

"Slow down James!" called his Driver, but the trucks surged ahead.

James suddenly snapped from his plans, but it was too late!

"NO!" he screamed.

"Yes," the trucks retorted.

James slid off the tracks, through the barrier, and onto the weak spot.


James tipped to his side, crashed the fence, blocking the road.

But the ballast was completely fell away, making a hole, taking some of the trucks with it.

James was left there until sunset.

Because the rails were broken, he couldn't be rescued by rail, a Dryson Lorry rescued him and he was towed to Crovan's Gate.

Five days later, his tender was towed in and the next day, he returned to Tidmouth.

"Hullo James. I'm just going to take this ballast train for you. To give you a little break from the 'unimportant job'," David said winking.

"That's alright, I'll take it."

"Are you sure?"


David laughed.

"Alright then."

So James coupled on, and by Christmas Eve the line was repaired.


  • Henry
  • Gordon
  • James
  • Delete
  • David
  • Sir Topham Hatt
  • Edward (mentioned)
  • Percy (mentioned)
  • Dodger (mentioned)


  • Tidmouth
  • Tidmouth Sheds
  • Gordon's Hill
  • Maron
  • Crovan's Gate


  • This is actually the sixth episode of the tenth season, since it taked place before Christmas, but due to air dates, it was pushed back to the eighth episode.