Best Engines Ever is the fifteenth short in Adventures on Rails. It was released on 15 May 2020 and celebrates the seventy-fifth anniversary of The Railway Series.
|Best Engines Ever|
|Season B, Episode 15|
|Air date||15 May 2020|
|Written by|| Christopher Awdry (original)
Home Sweet Home
You Lucky Engine
It is my pleasure to bring you these stories from the Island of Sodor. These engines have been a big part of my life and I thoroughly enjoying writing about anything that happens there. Seventy-five years have passed since The Three Railway Engines was published, but I still enjoy hearing about the daily life on Sodor. For example, my friend Liza had heard her first shift as Guard and Henry had to help paramedics get to the hospital . . . Keep reading to find out what happened.
The engines get ready for the celebration of seventy-five years since stories about them were first written.
Lost and Found
It was a beautiful evening at Vicarstown.
"Lovely day to oh, I don't know, just admire the scenery," sighed James. He was preparing to take the last down train after Pip and Emma had passed.
"Lucky you," called Dodger, as he puffed into the station. "All I get to see is piles of coal."
"Ah, yes. Lots of coal needed to fly along the line. Feeling the wind all around you."
"In a good mood today?"
"When am I not?"
"Always!" teased Dodger.
"All right. It has been a good day."
Then the Stationmaster came out of his office.
"Excuse me, but did anyone leave a water bottle?"
He went through the coaches, asking people.
"Do you tend to find all sorts of things after the coaches have emptied?" asked Dodger.
"Well, yes. There's even a whole department of lost property at Tidmouth."
Dodger said no more, he just grinned.
Then they heard a horn and Pip and Emma flew by.
"Hullo!" they called and were soon out of sight.
It seemed like no time at all when James was ready to go. He steamed cheerfully away and made good time.
Finally, he reached the Big Station and all the passengers disembarked.
"Time to scour through the coaches," said a porter.
"Wonder what everyone left behind today," said another.
Then, just as Daisy purred in, the Fat Controller came out of his office with a large box.
"Whoa, this is pretty heavy," he grunted. "There," he said, setting the box on the ground. "Let's see what we have here."
"Well, hopefully a vacuum because there's crumbs of crackers all over my seats. This truly isn't fitting for me," groaned Daisy.
"Don't worry," replied the Fat Controller. "You can have your seats cleaned in the Shed."
"Is that all the stuff people have left behind?" asked James.
"Indeed," replied the Fat Controller. "Lots of interesting stuff in here."
"There's stuff there from years ago," said Daisy.
"Well, look what we have here. A paddle-ball! I loved these as a child. Just watch me go!" And he did too. "Ha! Ah-ha! See my skills!"
"Look at him go!" said Daisy.
"I never knew he had that skill. Must be a hidden talent," commented James.
"Okay. That was a good exercise," said the Fat Controller. "Let's see, hmm, I like this fancy umbrella."
"Fancy it might look. I reckon it's from the one-pound shop," put in Daisy.
"And this, uh, lip-stick and hair comb."
"That explains why there's hairs on the coaches," said James. "Who does their hair and make-up in the coaches anyways?"
"I don't know," replied Daisy. "People who are late waking up and do it whilst travelling to work."
"Happens to my wife all the time," chuckled James's Driver.
"And surely you've never been late yourself," replied the Fireman.
"Oh, stop being silly."
"What else is there?" asked James.
"Well this is interesting. A very nice blouse."
"Fancy," agreed Daisy.
"It is nice but I find it odd that it was left behind. Especially since it is a nice blouse," put in James.
"And well, a baby bottle! Maybe I've got a friend who might need one."
"Actually Sir. I believe that's my son's," said a porter.
"Albert! Yes, how's your son doing?"
"Growing up fine. My wife probably forget it getting off of Thomas's train. You know they both usually fall asleep."
"Well, when you're done, come into my office and grab it."
"No problem, Sir."
"I wonder how Thomas puts up with that child," grinned Daisy. "He sleeps in between stations but at the platform, they just can't get him to be quiet."
"Poor Thomas," remarked James. "Although, Henry told me he's getting used to it."
"But not all his passengers!" chuckled Daisy.
"Yeah, not all of them know what it's like to deal with a newborn child."
"Well, that's all the interesting stuff for now," said the Fat Controller. "You two head off to the sheds now for a rest. There's another day of hard work awaiting."
And the two engines rolled over to the sheds to get a good nights rest.
Henry goes to the Hospital
Based on the mini-book by Christopher Awdry
There is a hospital at Wellsworth near Edward's station. It is the largest and most reliable medical facility on Sodor. Many of the nurses, doctors and other Hospital staff travel by train.
One day, Henry was waiting at the Big Station ready to take a stopping train when he saw a Nurse climb aboard his train.
"She's probably going to the Hospital," observed Henry.
The Driver murmured in agreement.
Presently, it was time to go and Henry started as soon as the Guard was ready. He made good time and reached the Junction safely. Soon enough, he reached Edward's station, and, as expected the Nurse got off.
"I wonder if I'll see her again," thought Henry.
He did. Henry usually managed the morning stopping train after coming back from pulling "The Flying Kipper". The Nurse utilised Henry's train to reach the Hospital.
A week later, the Nurse arrived a bit earlier and came up to Henry's cab.
"Hullo, ma'am," greeted the Fireman. "Riding aboard today again."
"Yes. My name in Nancy. I recently got the job at Wellsworth Hospital," she replied kindly.
"It's a pretty prestigious place from what I've heard," said the Driver. "Good job on getting in."
"Thank you. And Henry too, right?"
"Yes, that's my name, ma'am," said Henry.
"Do you always pull this service?" asked the Nurse.
"Usually. James or Bear might also fill in," answered the Driver.
"Well, glad to meet you then. I'll see you regularly then."
She then climbed into her seat and Guard soon blew the whistle and waved his green flag.
At the Junction, Henry told Thomas about the Nurse.
"Don't leave her behind one day!" he teased. "Her job is very important."
"I would never leave anyone behind," replied Henry. "Unlike you . . ."
"Ha, ha, very funny. Anyways, I'm off."
Soon it was time for Henry to leave too. Presently, Henry reached Edward's station in no time.
"Thanks!" called the Nurse as she walked over to her bus.
So whenever Henry pulled the morning train, he always saw the Nurse.
But one stormy day, all the passengers were boarding the train but Henry and his crew didn't see the Nurse.
"She usually says 'hullo'," said Henry, grimly.
"Sorry old boy, but we can't wait forever for her," said the Driver.
Henry reluctantly agreed. Then the Guard blew his whistle, waved his green flag and they made their way to the Junction.
Arrived at the Junction, Thomas hadn't arrived.
"Typical of him to be late especially on a rainy day," he muttered to himself.
Five minutes passed, then ten.
"Well, I guess now I know how Thomas felt when I used to come in late all the time prior to my re-build," commented Henry.
"This is strange indeed," muttered the Fireman.
Just then, the Stationmaster came up.
"There's an emergency. A little girl named Amy hurt her ankle at Dryaw. The main road to the hospital is flooded so Thomas was called in and is bringing her down right now. You are to take her to Wellsworth then an ambulance will whisk her to the hospital," he explained.
"Understood," nodded the Driver.
Presently, Thomas arrived with Annie and Clarabel.
"Sorry we're late, but, uh, . . ."
"Don't worry, the Stationmaster's explained everything."
Then Henry heard a familiar voice.
"Gently does it. Do we have enough room for her on the coach?"
"It's Nurse Nancy!"
Some men carried Amy who was on a stretcher and secured her in the seat.
"Hullo Henry. I'm glad to see you. You must travel safely to Wellsworth."
"No problem. There's only one stop before Edward's station."
Soon, everything was ready. Henry started smoothly for Wellsworth.
Meanwhile, in the carriage, the Nurse was soothing Amy.
"It's going to be all right. Once we get to the Hospital, we'll take an X-ray and determine exactly what's wrong. Good thing Henry's giving us a smooth ride."
"Thank you, Nurse Nancy," replied Amy.
"You'll have to thank Henry too!"
The rain pelted Henry's boiler but he used his sand-gear to prevent his wheels from slipping and give as smooth of a ride as he could.
Soon, they approached Edward's station.
"Hurray!" cheered Henry.
The ambulance was waiting and although they were in a hurry, the Nurse waved and smiled to Henry and his crew.
"You are especially late," observed Edward.
Henry told him what had happened.
"It'll be all right. I'm sure the Fat Controller will understand."
Although he was late, all the passengers were pleased with Henry.
"You really are an Enterprising engine," they said.
Meanwhile, at the Hospital, the Nurse showed Amy the X-rays.
"Well, you're a lucky girl. Your ankle isn't broken, only sprained. Specifically a second-degree sprain. You'll be all right in a couple weeks once I tape it properly."
"Thank you," replied Amy.
Soon, Amy was ready to go and her mother was waiting for her.
"Thank you for looking after her," said Amy's mother.
"It's what we do. Though it was Henry and Thomas who brought her most of the way."
"We should thank them, mother," suggested Amy.
"Yes, but how?"
Then the Nurse told them about the morning train.
"Oh, we'll meet at Knapford then."
The next day, Amy and her mother boarded Thomas's train at Dryaw and the Nurse boarded Henry's train at Tidmouth.
"Well, Henry, seems like you have someone wanting to see you," said Thomas.
Amy, who was on crutches and her mother stepped out of Annie.
The Nurse climbed out of Henry's train and so did - the Fat Controller.
First, Amy thanked the engines and crews. Then, the Nurse.
"We cannot thank you both enough for your service," said the Nurse. "We've read a great deal about your engines, Sir and there isn't anything like it anywhere else!"
"Thanks," replied the Fat Controller. "And I'm very proud of you all. You are both Enterprising engines."
Henry's train left to the sound of cheers and whistles and that made Henry and Thomas feel very proud.
Trouble on the Train
Liza enjoys her work at Ffarquhar. She helps the crews with various odd jobs at the sheds. Recently, she had been helping the Guard for Thomas's evening train.
"She's a quick learner," observed Thomas.
"Not surprised," said Annie and Clarabel.
Liza helped the Guard load luggage into Clarabel's compartment. She also made sure everyone had a ticket and that they were safely on board. Finally, the train was ready to leave.
"Go ahead," said the Guard. "Blow the whistle and wave the green flag."
Liza did so then quickly clambered into Clarabel.
"I don't think anyone lets Thomas forget the time he left his Guard behind at the Junction," chuckled Liza.
"No indeed!" agreed the Guard. "Fortunately, no railway personnel have ever been left behind by Thomas since."
"I certainly wouldn't want that."
"Neither would I. You're doing a really good job."
"Thanks. It's definitely a change from the work I do back at the station, but I've enjoyed it nonetheless."
"Great to hear."
The following week, the Guard had an assignment for Liza.
"I think you can do it all by yourself."
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah. You've done a lot of hard work. I think it's a good idea to give you a chance to do it yourself."
"All right. Sounds fine."
The next morning, Liza was filling Percy up with coal.
"This evening I'm going to be the Guard on Thomas's train all by myself," she told him.
"I am a bit nervous but I'll be fine."
Later Percy told Thomas the news.
"That's great to hear."
"Yeah. Although I do prefer her in the Yard."
"That is true. Still, it is good to get some experience in another position."
That evening, Liza was ready and waiting.
"I just hope everything goes well," she told Thomas and his Driver.
"You'll be fine. You know exactly what to do," re-assured Thomas.
"Yes, just don't leave me behind!"
"We'll make sure that doesn't happen," chuckled the Driver.
"Well, I better see if anyone needs help," said Liza.
She helped the porters with luggage and a woman with a stroller on board Annie. Before long, everyone was on board. The signal dropped to show the line was clear and Liza was waiting with her flag and whistle.
"Not long now," said Thomas.
She was just about to blow her whistle when a man ran up to the platform.
"Sorry I'm late!" he panted.
"You just barely made it," replied Liza.
The man climbed on board.
Liza blew the whistle and waved the green flag. With that, Thomas set off. Liza clambered into Clarabel.
"Good thing we didn't leave him behind," she thought to herself.
Thomas trundled over the bridge and puffed into the station by the river. Some luggage had to be unloaded. Liza helped the porters with that.
"I think we got everything," said the Stationmaster.
But a man and woman came up.
"We are still missing one bag," he said.
"I'll go look again," said a porter. He went to look. "That's odd. I didn't see it in there."
"Let me make sure," said Liza.
She searched thoroughly. She couldn't seem to find it. "Just one last look," she thought. Then, suddenly, "I found it!" She brought the passengers their bag.
"Yes, this is the one," said the woman. "Thanks."
"It was pretty buried in there," said Liza.
"Glad we solved that," said the Stationmaster.
Then Liza checked the time.
"We ought to get going. The signal just went down."
Thomas set off again. He was running well. He passed Toryreck, and was approaching Dryaw station.
Liza was drinking some water when she heard something and then saw a round object fly by the window.
"That sounded like glass breaking," she thought.
She contacted Thomas's Driver.
Thomas stopped. "What's the matter?" he asked.
Liza found out soon enough. She saw that one of Annie's windows was broken.
"What happened?" asked Liza.
"We're really sorry," said the mother. "My boy accidentally threw his ball at the window."
"Well, my sister was supposed to catch," said the boy.
"Is anybody hurt?" asked Liza.
"No. We're fine," said the mother.
"I can't have you sit here the rest of the journey. There is still some glass on the floor. There's some room right in front."
Liza helped the mother and her kids down and to their seats.
At last, Thomas was able to move.
"Well, we're not too late," said Thomas when they reached Dryaw.
"And least everyone is safe," said Annie.
"I'm glad it was just a broken window and not something worse," said Liza. "Man, a lot has happened on this journey."
Thomas reached the Junction just as James arrived.
"Hey Thomas. I see you have a new Guard."
"Yes indeed. And before you ask or remind me of it - no, I won't leave her behind."
"Well, it still is one of my favourite moments."
"Very funny. You know, that was really Henry's fault."
"Whatever. Now, you should really get going."
"All right. I'll see you around!"
James puffed away.
"Are his conversations here always like that?" Liza asked the Driver and Fireman.
"It depends," they replied.
"Well, it is most interesting," said Liza.
Then, Bertie the Bus arrived.
"I brought your passengers," tooted Bertie.
"Good, seems like we'll be on time back to Ffarquhar," said Thomas.
Now they had to wait for Gordon's train. They waited and waited.
"You know, it isn't usual of him to be late," said Thomas.
Finally, Gordon arrived.
"Sorry Thomas. There was a delay at Edward's station."
"You are late but glad to see you."
The passengers quickly climbed on board Annie and Clarabel.
"I'll be off. Hopefully, we'll make back some lost time."
"Well, take care then."
Liza blew her whistle and Thomas set off again. The journey was uphill, so Thomas had to work hard. Despite his effort, he found that he couldn't make up time.
He was glad of a rest at the station by the river.
"This really has been quite the journey," said Thomas.
"I know," said Liza. "But you're doing your best."
Thomas was late when he reached Ffarquhar. But he was happy for Liza.
"It certainly wasn't what you were expecting," said Thomas.
"It really wasn't."
"Still, I think you did a great job."
"All sorts of things happen every now and then," put in Thomas's Driver.
"You've seen a fair share from your work in the Yard."
"Yeah," said Liza. "Lots of interesting thing happen all over the railway. Funny thing is how people often enjoy that aspect. Some will complain, but some are more than anything intrigued by that."
"Very well said," said Annie and Clarabel.
"Now it's time to give you a wash," said Liza.
"Are you sure? You're probably tired."
"I am, but I really enjoy this. Besides, I do kind of prefer my work around here. But I am still open for other roles in future."
"That's understandable," said the Driver.
"All right then. Let's go over to the yard now," said the Fireman.
Liza was soon spraying Thomas with the hose and wiping him down. Later, Percy came him and she washed him too. Whilst she did so, she told him about her day.
"You didn't expect that, didn't you," said Percy.
"I did not!" chuckled Liza.
"Well, we are still pleased to have you around here."
The engines agreed that they liked having her around Ffarquhar, and they couldn't think of anyone else.
Things were busy on the Island of Sodor. It was the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Thin Clergyman's books was coming up. There was to be a celebration at the Big Station. The Fat Controller had announced that all the engines' timetables would be adjusted.
"All of you will be able to attend," he told them.
The engines were glad to be able to make it.
"There's going to be plenty of passengers that day," said Edward.
"Indeed," agreed Gordon. "It is a very exciting time."
"I just hope that we do have a lot of guests," put in Henry.
"We have had more trains than usual," said Duck.
"I would assume a lot of people are planning to come," added Jessie.
"I just worry sometimes," said Henry, "that people might begin to forget us at some point."
"Huh. I had never thought of that," said Duck, thoughtfully.
"Dinna fash yersel," said Douglas. "If wurrk is busy right nau, it muist mean plenty of people are coming."
"Don't forget that sometimes people come on purpose," said Edward.
"Henry does have point though," said Bear. "Is there going to be a day where maybe we will no longer be well known."
The engines all stopped for a moment.
"It depends," said Emily, at last.
"Our legacy will go on one way or another," said Edward. "The books have definitely left a lasting impression. Some way or another, people will find the books and know about us."
"Yeah," put in James. "Who could forget such iconic moments."
"Like yer encounter with tarr-wagons," teased Douglas.
"Or crushing the spiteful brake-van," retorted James.
"Come on, Percy has some funny ones too," chuckled Gordon.
"The 'woolly bear' one is my personal favourite," chuckled James.
"So many great memories," said Edward.
Henry felt a bit better. "You know, Thomas has told me about a young woman who works at Ffarquhar. He says that a lot of her friends also enjoy the books and travelling on trains."
"There ye go," said Douglas. "Yon Edward is right - oor legacy lives aun. People pass it on."
"Exactly," said Edward.
That made Henry feel better, and went to sleep content.
The next morning, he was at the platform ready for his stopping train. Then, the Fat Controller came out of his office.
"Good morning Sir."
"Good morning Henry. I just wanted to ask if you would do a short interview with some television producers at the celebration."
"I'd be happy to."
"Is anyone else speaking?"
"Oh, yes. They requested several engines. I know all of you have something to say and besides, you all deserve some spotlight."
"I agree Sir."
Then, Henry puffed away towards the Junction.
Thomas was there with Annie and Clarabel when Henry arrived.
"Look who's right on time," said Thomas.
"Well, that has been the norm since my re-build," replied Henry.
"And I assume the Viaduct is all fixed and such."
"I do enjoy these conversations."
"Sure beats talking to James. We talked last night at the sheds about the upcoming event. TV producers are coming too. I'm going to have some screen time."
"I expect I will too."
"You get enough already."
Thomas laughed. "I am glad to share it with all of you though. After all, it isn't just me on the railway."
"What kind words. Save it for the screen," laughed Henry.
Just then, the Guard blew the whistle.
"I have to go now, but I'll see you around."
"Yeah. Till later then."
Henry puffed away.
Then, Thomas made his way to Ffarquhar. He ran nicely and Annie and Clarabel followed him smoothly.
"His conversations at the Junction are always interested," said Clarabel.
"Indeed, my dear," agreed Annie. "I mean it usually includes some sort of teasing but it is fun to watch."
"I can hear you two!" laughed Thomas.
"Well it is true," they replied.
"You two know more than anyone that when it comes down to it, I do care for them a lot."
"Well, glad that you know that."
Presently, Thomas stopped at the station by the river. He took on water, then ended his journey at Ffarquhar.
"Hey Liza," he called.
"Hey Thomas. How was your journey?"
"It went very well."
"Good. Now, I have to help unload some luggage."
"She is one of the best," said Thomas.
"She does have an undeniable passion," agreed Thomas's Driver.
"You know, with celebration at the Big Station, I wonder if she would like to come along. We're all heading there anyways."
Thomas's Driver spoke to the Stationmaster about this.
"I'm not sure if she is going although she does know about it."
Just then, Liza came up.
"Seems like you can take a rest now," she said.
"Before that, I was wondering if you're going to the seventy-fifth anniversary celebration at the Big Station."
"I am. Though, since it is a big day, I was also going to help all the engines get ready. Full washdown, polish, and everything."
"That does sound nice," said Thomas. "Although, you will need time to get ready yourself."
"Well, if we begin early enough, we should have time to get everyone ready," said the Stationmaster.
That made everything right.
The days passed, and each day, the engines felt the big day closer and closer. All over the Island, the stations were decorated with banners and streamers. Flowers filled the stations. The engines grew more and more excited.
"Even Duncan is in a good mood," Luke told Paxton at the Transfer Yard.
"Good to hear," replied Paxton. "And all over, the stations look lovely."
Finally, it was the night before the anniversary.
"The sky is clear and starry," observed Oliver. "It's just so real."
"Tomorrow will be even better Mr. Oliver," said Toad.
"For now, let's get these trucks to Arlesburgh."
Up at Arlesburgh, Ryan and Daisy were settling in for the night.
"You know Daisy. I'm very pleased to be spending another anniversary here with you," said Ryan.
"I'm glad to know you too. It has a been pleasure. Better yet, tomorrow you'll get to see more of my friends from the Ffarquhar Branch."
"I'm excited for that too! I wonder how I'll get on with Thomas or Percy or Toby."
"You'll be just fine with them, although Thomas is a bit cheeky and fussy I'll warn you."
"So I've heard and that's all right."
Morning arrived, and the engines knew they had a lot of work to do before the celebration could begin.
At Vicarstown, Dodger brought coal trucks to the station.
"Wakey, wakey. I have your coal trucks, Molly."
"But I told you not to wake me up," she teased.
"I assume you're bringing my trucks next," said David.
"Yes of course."
"All right. Be off with you," laughed Molly.
"She's feisty," Dodger whispered loudly and then puffed away.
"And he can be quite silly," chuckled David.
"So are you!" laughed Molly.
"I couldn't have asked for a better way to start the day," replied David.
At the Big Station, crews hustled and bustled getting the engines ready for the day.
"Lots of passengers today," said James.
"Really? No wonder you're excited," said Henry.
"Edward, I expect you'll be clearing the line," said Emily.
"Yes. I'll be the last to arrive," said Edward.
"All right, but don't keep us waiting forever!" said Gordon.
"You know I won't."
"I know. Just get down here safely."
At Ffarquhar, Liza and the engines crews were getting Thomas, Percy, Toby, and Mavis ready.
"It's time to get you all cleaned up," said Liza.
"Thanks a lot for doing this," said Toby.
"It's my pleasure."
"You know, we want you to look great too," said Percy.
"Don't worry, I'll be done in time to go home and change. I only live a few blocks away."
So she got back to work.
Meanwhile, at Clay Pits, the engines were getting ready too.
"I can't wait to go to the Big Station," said Bill.
"Yeah, we'll get to see Gordon again," said Ben.
"So when are you two heading off?" asked Timothy.
"We'll be at Edward's station by noon. Then, we'll go with BoCo," explained Bill.
"I'll be at the Docks," said Marion.
"Yeah, I'll stay behind too," said Timothy. "Besides, Cranky complains if we leave him alone."
"Then again, he'll probably complain of our presence," said Marion.
"Maybe not so much. Bill and Ben won't be there."
"Ha ha. Very funny," replied the Twins.
Then they went to fetch some china clay trucks.
Soon, the engines were busy collecting passengers. A lot of them were going to the Big Station but some also gathered at other places Crovan's Gate, Brendam Docks, Kirk Machan, and Arlesburgh.
Soon, Pip and Emma were on their way to the Big Station. Edward waited at Vicarstown. Molly, Dodger, and David were also there.
"Well, almost time to see what's going on at the Big Station," said Dodger.
"If you do end up arguing with the big engines, it might create good ratings," said David.
"I hadn't thought of that . . ."
"You know Edward, I sometimes feel we don't give you enough credit," said Molly. "You were the first engine introduced after all."
"You are an inspiration to us all," said Dodger. "No matter what happens, you keep on going."
"I guess what we're saying is that you are and always have been a very good friend to all of us," said David.
"I'm glad to hear that. I'm glad to know all of you. Together, we do our work without fuss and keeping proving what we're capable of."
The three engines agreed with him.
Just then, Pip and Emma roared by.
"Almost time to go!" said Dodger.
Then, the signal dropped, and the engines puffed away.
"See you in a bit!" called Molly.
Meanwhile, at Ffarquhar, the engines were getting ready to leave.
"Have you got Henrietta and Victoria," said Thomas.
"Of course I do," replied Toby.
"For me, it is the lack of rolling stock," put in Percy.
"I mean, you could take a brake van," said Thomas.
"I don't think I need to," replied Percy.
Then Liza came up. "You all look splendid. Better than ever," she said.
"Yes, but look at you," chuckled Toby.
Her shirt was wet and her hair was messy too.
"Worry not. I've gotten ready in less than fifteen minutes sometimes. Still, I'd best be off."
She ran down the street to her house.
"There you are," said her mother. "Before you change, I have something for you."
She presented Liza a beautiful aquamarine dress.
"It looks lovely! Where did you get it?"
"It was a gift from the engine crews and station staff."
"I love it. I'll put it on right away."
Soon, Liza was ready, and she ran back to the station. Everyone was glad to see her.
"Now you look splendid too," said Mavis.
"Thanks to all of you," said Liza.
"You do help a lot around here," said Percy.
"It was their idea though," put in the Stationmaster.
"I can't thank you enough," said Liza.
"It is our pleasure," said Toby.
"Now, let's get to the Big Station, shall we," said Thomas.
Everyone was ready. The signal dropped and the engines were on their way to the Junction.
At the Big Station, Pip and Emma had just arrived. People crowded the station. Television personnel began interviews and people gathered round the engines who were already there.
"It almost feels like the time we went to London," said Duck.
"And, we're still waiting for Thomas," said Gordon.
"He'll be here soon," said Emily.
Presently, BoCo and the Twins arrived.
"Here we are!" shouted Bill.
"Yeah, this celebration just got interesting," murmured BoCo.
"I think they'll settle down," said Jessie.
"Probably. But just in case, I better keep an eye on them."
Meanwhile, Thomas, Percy, Toby, and Mavis had reached the Junction.
Thomas's Driver applied the brakes but they didn't seem to work properly.
"We better check you over," said Thomas's Driver.
"You can all go ahead," said Thomas to his friends. "I'll be there shortly."
So the others went on their way.
Thomas's Driver and Fireman inspected him.
"I think we're going to need help," said the Driver.
"From who?" wondered Thomas.
"Isn't Edward still on his way?" asked Liza.
"You're right," said the Fireman, and went to tell the Signalman. He returned shortly. "Edward will be here soon."
Presently, Edward arrived.
"I heard your brakes are failing."
Edward switched to Thomas's line and was coupled up.
"You know, I don't think you've met Liza before," said Thomas.
"Hey Edward. It is very nice to meet you."
"Hullo Liza. I'm glad to meet you. I have heard of you from Thomas. It sounds like you enjoy working at Ffarquhar."
"It is a real pleasure."
"Well, keep up the good work. Now, let's get to the Big Station. Everyone is waiting and you'll enjoy getting to know more of the engines."
With that, Edward puffed away pulling Thomas, Annie and Clarabel.
At the Big Station, everyone was waiting for Edward and Thomas.
"So what happened to ol' Thomas?" asked James.
"His brakes failed," replied Percy. "Poor old thing," he chuckled.
"I hope this doesn't cause severe delays," said Bill.
"Without them, we can't start the party," put in Ben.
"Don't be so dramatic," laughed BoCo.
"We're just having fun," said Ben.
"Besides we need a bit of tension," said Bill.
"I'd rather not," smirked James. "Some worry more than others."
"Wait, nothing bad has happened, right," said Paxton.
"No. Everything's fine," said Norman.
"Juist a bit more waitin'," added Donald.
"Yeah. Edward and Thomas will be here soon," said Emily.
Meanwhile, over at the Works, the narrow gauge engines were gathered with Victor and Kevin.
"You know, my twin Talyllyn met the Thin Clergyman," said Skarloey.
"Most of our twins did," said Rheneas.
"I was close to meeting him once," sighed Sir Handel.
"Speaking of twins. Why do I still have the Giesl?" asked Peter Sam.
"It makes you different Stuart. Just live with it," replied Duke.
"That, and it did improve your steaming," said Victor.
"Very well. I'll take it."
Over at Arlesburgh, the Small Railway Engines were also watching the anniversary celebration.
"This is nice," said Bert. "Getting to watch the ceremony from the comfort of our shed."
"Yeah, and no passengers around to bother us," said Mike.
"Don't be too sure about that," chuckled Rex.
"What do you mean?"
"There's going to be a party here too."
"Rubbish. They wouldn't dare."
"Oh, yes they will!"
"Don't get him too fired up," whispered Jock.
"Eh, he'll be all right," replied Rex.
"Good. Now keep quiet. The ceremony is about to start," said Frank.
Back at Tidmouth, Edward puffed in.
"Good to see both of you," said Jessie. "You both look smart."
"Thanks Jessie. And thanks Edward for helping me," said Thomas.
"No problem," replied Edward.
Then Liza stepped out of Clarabel.
"And this is Liza, I presume, looking fancy," said Jessie.
"Yes, it's her!" chuckled Thomas.
Liza just smiled.
Then, the Fat Controller took the stand.
"Ladies and gentlemen, I thank you all for coming to this celebration of seventy-five years since the first of the Thin Clergyman's books was published. My father and grandfather did get to meet him, and I have been able to meet the Thin Clergyman's son, and they are great men, so it is fitting to mentioned them. For me, it is an honour to be controller of such a wonderful railway. The engines you see here are very much real. They have their ups and downs but in the end, they always know to do the right thing. So, without further ado, I give you Thomas the Tank Engine."
"It is your turn," whispered Edward.
"You know, I'm actually kind of nervous," whispered Thomas.
"You'll be all right."
The applause stopped, and the camera was on Thomas.
"This anniversary is definitely an important one. Seventy-five years, that is a long time, and I have been on this railway even longer. In fact, when I first arrived, I was young and cheeky. But there was one engine who always helped me out. And that is Edward. He is always there for all of us. Someone you can rely on and who is overall, the best friend I could ever ask for. I consider all the engines here my friends. There are some of you who I don't see that often, but we'll probably have time to catch up today. I sometimes feel like there is a bond between us. Something that unites us. We all have the same objective: to be really useful. This can never be broken. I want to let everyone know how much I love working on my Branch Line. I would never want to go anywhere else. I've enjoyed my visits to London and York but my home is here on Sodor. I can't imagine living anywhere else and I'm glad of all the friends I've made here. I feel, on this day, that I should recognise that more than ever. So, if you are ever in the region, be sure to visit my Branch Line, it's unlike any other!"
Everyone clapped and cheered. Then, Edward took the stand.
"I agree with Thomas that there is something between all of us engines that unites us. Somehow, year after year, we get visitors, and some come and tell us how they have come to know us. I was a bit surprised when Driver told me some of the ways people know about us. From the websites and forums. People have discovered us, and it is great to see that our stories and told and remembered. I think that as along as we keep doing what we do, people will remember us for many years to come."
Once again, the station was filled with applause.
The celebration went on and it was a fun event for everyone. The engines talked and laughed. People had food and games to play. There was plenty of music. People also got a chance to talk to many of the engines and take photographs. The engines enjoyed the attention.
"I think it is even better that we're here on Sodor," said Thomas to Percy.
"Yeah, there really is no place like home," replied Percy.
Finally, as night fell, people went their separate ways.
"We've got to get back to Arlesburgh," said Daisy.
"Back to Vicarstown," said David.
Thomas had to stay at the Big Station.
"You'll have your brakes fixed tomorrow," said the Fat Controller.
"Thank you Sir."
Edward helped him to the shed.
The other engines were already there.
"Hey, so you don't mind sharing the spotlight," chuckled Henry.
"Of course not," laughed Thomas.
The engines know that no matter what happens, they will be together for many years to come. Their stories will continue to be told, and so the engines will always be remembered fondly. There is truly no other place like Sodor.
- Donald and Douglas
- Bill and Ben
- Pip and Emma
- Sir Handel
- Peter Sam
- Annie and Clarabel
- Sir Topham Hatt
- Nurse Nancy
- Amy's Mother
- Salty (does not speak)
- Duncan (does not speak)
- Cranky (does not speak)
- Henrietta (does not speak)
- Victoria (does not speak)
- Talyllyn (mentioned)
- The Thin Clergyman (mentioned)
- Flying Scotsman (role dropped)
- Brendam Docks
- China Clay Works
- Kirk Machan
- Crovan's Gate
- Like the previous two shorts, this short uses the Railway Series format meaning that four stories comprise the short.
- Although not technically new, this was planned to be first proper appearance of Bear and Pip and Emma in the series if they did not appear in any re-writes prior to the release of this short. However, all three appeared during the first volume thus establishing them as part of the cast.
- There are references to Thomas and the Guard, Dirty Objects, Break van, and Woolly Bear.
- The Writer has mentioned that the final story most likely does not take place in May 2020.
- This was originally meant to be Liza's first appearance in the series.
Behind the scenes
Here is a look into the development of this short. There is quite a bit that went into the making of this short.
I'll start with a brief look into how I plan for shorts. In the case of most shorts, they are planned for many months up to years in advance. For instance, I first thought of Best Engines Ever back in August 2018 along with the idea for You Lucky Engine and Visiting Engines. It was also at this point, that I was considering writing single-stories again. Around the same time, I was writing Work and Play and I knew I wanted this short to celebrate the upcoming seventy-fifth anniversary in 2020. It was also there that I decided to use the Railway Series format for the next upcoming shorts including this one. The ideas for the four stories came rather quickly. First, I was inspired by the nineteenth series episode Lost Property to include Lost and Found. I thought it to be a nice story to start. It would be relaxed, laid-back, and I figured that it would involve the Fat Controller going through the lost and found at the Big Station and the engines' commentary on what is found. Later, I found James and Daisy to suit that role.
The next two stories are inspired by Christopher Awdry. One from a mini-book and the other from More Bad Days for Thomas and his Friends. Henry goes to the Hospital is a story I found to be very nice. It had Henry in the lead, had good pace, nice balance between railway realism and character dynamics. For me, it needed some revision to fit in better with my style but it is still heavily based off the story. If I remember correctly, this was actually the first story completed and rather quickly. I got the mini-book from my local library and after that, I simply wrote it out. There are various changes in comparison to the original and that is because I knew what I wanted to change when adapting it. It all fell into place fairly quickly.
I have a lot to say about Trouble on the Train. This was back in late 2018 when I thought of having a character similar to Nancy or Kathy and Lizzie who helps out on the railway doing odd jobs and is good friends with the engines. Eventually, this became Liza when she was introduced in Down at the Station during the first volume. As a placeholder, I named her Gemma which is the name of the girl who gets pushed off the train in the original story. Later on when writing Down at the Station, I thought of Liza as a better name. That is one aspect of this story. The other is the actual incident. At first, I was thinking of doing the same thing as the original story, in which the girl is pushed out of the train. Later that went on to happen during Liza's first time acting as Guard. I did end up writing a good chunk of the story with that idea but I didn't feel completely satisfied. Then, in late 2019 I decided to introduce Liza, and that gave me some perspective for this story. I got another idea where Liza has to deal with a woman and her little brother and sister. What ended up happening is that a door on Annie flings open during the journey. Liza had told the women not to sit there. So it was a serious situation. I was fine with that for the meantime but as the planned released approach I had second thoughts. While this was something you'd expect in a Thomas story just maybe not for this short. The others are rather upbeat. Henry goes to the Hospital does have its serious moments, so perhaps it would be best to change some stuff. So the beginning is pretty much the same. I ended up using various incidents to make Liza's first time as Guard memorable and explore that aspect of unique railway incidents. So this story really did go through many ideas and various changes and probably less than seventy-two hours before the 15th, I had finally completed it. One other thing is that if Liza hadn't been introduced in the first volume, this would have marked her introduction.
The last story went through various potential titles until I settled on Together because of all the engines gathered at the Big Station for the celebration. The original title was actually just Documentary because I had thought of making a documentary-styled episode. Something like The Office. What would have happened was Liza was making a video about the railway in preparation for the seventy-fifth anniversary. I did get some parts written, but I found it rather hard. Still, this is something I might to in future. Perhaps even for the eightieth. Eventually, the other three stories were completed and this one, I was still debating whether or not to do the documentary-style. Another idea was that there would be a questionnaire but this didn't pan out but again, is something I might do in the future. It was getting close to the planned release date, and due to the quarantine I found time, and in just one sitting wrote it all out. I just wanted something that was well-written, had good use of all the characters, and even some emotional moments. I also did switch back to the traditional narration style. All this, just about a week before the release date.
So the order I wrote the stories was Henry goes to the Hospital, Lost and Found, and those two remained relatively unchanged from the first draft to the final. Then, Trouble on the Train, Together, and then I re-wrote the former.
That is pretty much everything I have to say. These shorts have a lot more to them than the stories. In general, there is more planning for shorts than for episodes. For the episodes, I have even written some the day before. Shorts are longer, which takes more time, and whilst even for stories there are many ideas, the shorts just being longer means that there's more ideas to be tossed and played around with. There are more scenes in shorts and for each scene, there could possibly be two, three or more ways to write it. This is part of the reason I had planned to just focus on shorts but I found that I wrote concurrently on both shorts and episodes especially with this four-story format for shorts.
It was a great pleasure to share all this with you. I don't think I've talked more about shorts since the original release of James and Percy. Perhaps another day I'll have more info on these shorts and maybe even a general look into the behind-the-scenes of my writing like what I do, where ideas come from, several tips and more. That would be fun. For now, take care and again, I'm glad to keep on writing.