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Barrier Wagons is the twelfth story of the second volume.

Barrier Wagons
Season X, Episode 38
Air date 7 June 2020
Written by MainLineEngines
Directed by MainLineEngines
Episode guide
The Trouble with Sheep


One day, Dodger was bringing coal trucks from the Mines to Vicarstown. As he puffed into the station, James came in.

"Hey James."

"Hey Dodger."

"You know, since you're here, why don't you take these coal trucks along?"

"Nonsense. I have to take a train of oil-tankers."

"You always take those."

"Well I am good at handling them if I do say so myself."

"Yeah. Especially after the time you set a fire."

"I had wanted to take barrier wagons but there were none."

"In the war years, barrier wagons were absolutely required."

"Is that so?"

"Yeah, and I'd love to tell you more about it."

Then Diesel oiled in.

"Well do it the sheds. Go on. Get a move on. You can't stand here all day."

"All right then. Let's go," said Dodger.

At the sheds, Molly was there.

"Hullo Molly," said Dodger, as he puffed in, "I was just about to tell James another 'war' story."

"That's interesting. Which one?" asked Molly.

"How to handle gunpowder wagons," replied Dodger.

"You're going to love this one," said Molly.

"And he can relate given his experience with fuel tankers," added Dodger.

"All right," put in James. "Get started."

So Dodger began. "It was the beginning of the war. I was based at Ardsley, but I gradually made my way to London, and several other places. Anyways, during the first year, I found myself working to shunt trains with supplies for the military. This was essential work and dangerous work. Supplies included all sorts of things such as firearms but the most dangerous thing of all - was gunpowder."

"It was always extreme caution with these loads or otherwise we could be blown to smithereens!"

"That is when the concept of barrier wagons came in. A minimum of two empty vans needed to be placed between the engine and the wagons and in front of the brake van as well."

"I didn't think too much about this regulation. I simply made sure to comply with it and avoid any trouble.

"Some of the other engines grumbled about it."

"'Why do we have to add extra trucks?' they grumbled."

"'A few vans is nothing to the other engines', I would say."

"I asked my Driver about it."

"'The load is always inspected. But we never know if the spark from an engine's funnel will set the trucks ablaze', he explained."

"'That would be catastrophic', I thought."

"Still, the others continued to complain."

"Then one day, a train came in from another region. The engine pulling it was older. His paint was faded and he coughed and spluttered."

"To my surprise, his train of gunpowder wagons had no barrier wagons. The Foreman ordered me to fetch some, but then, I began to smell something."

"'Do you smell that?' I asked my Driver."

"'Smell what?' he asked in reply."

"'Like a small burning smell', I replied."

"That raised alarms. Quickly, workmen inspected the load."

"'There's a hole in one of the trucks!' cried the Foreman. 'We must dispose of this load'."

"'But where!' I cried."

"'Not too far ahead, there's a disused siding. Take it there and hurry! It'll explode any second now!'"

"The wagons were uncoupled and I raced away!"

"'I must get there in time!' I thought frantically."

"Finally, I reached the siding. The trucks ran off the tracks and tumbled down the hillside."

"'Now let's get out of here!' I cried."

"I hurried away and was on the way back to the station when I heard a loud bang! Fire and smoke appeared behind me!"

"I was terrified now. 'Help!' I yelled, and went even faster."

"Finally, I could see the station. We were safe. Everyone was relieved."

"'Thank goodness, you got rid of that,' said the Stationmaster."

"'And at least no-one is hurt', agreed the Foreman."

"I was glad everyone was safe. I actually was scared that time," said Dodger.

"Well, I think you were really brave," said Molly.

"I have to admit. I would have been scared too," said James.

"It wasn't the only life-threatening experience I had," said Dodger. "But from then on, no-one questioned barrier wagons."

"Well I'm not surprised," said James.

"I have to get going now," said Molly. "I'll see you both later."

Molly puffed away.

"How many war stories do you have?"

"Several more. But that'll have to be for another day."




  • There are several references to Thomas, Percy, and Old Slow Coach.