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Cliffhanger is the seventh story of the second volume, and thirty-third story of The New Adventures on Rails.

Season X, Episode 33
Air date 19 April 2020
Written by MainLineEngines
Directed by MainLineEngines
Episode guide
Easter at Harwick
Percy and the Mud


It was start of a busy day at the Blue Mountain Quarry. Today, Ivo Hugh had come to help Luke.

"Thanks for coming," said Luke. "Today is going to be a busy day."

"Good," said Ivo Hugh. "Let's get to work, shall we."

They kept busy all morning fetching trucks of stone from Owen and Merrick.

It seemed like ages, but they were finally able to stop for a rest.

"Very busy morning," said Ivo Hugh.

"It is," agreed Luke.

Meanwhile, nearing the Works station, Duncan was not in the best of tempers. He had had to take over Skarloey's train that morning. He was grumpy with the coaches. He had bumped them at the beginning of the journey and before heading back, so the coaches were determined to pay him out. As they neared the station, Duncan gave the coaches a bump as he slowed down.

"Now!" called the coaches and they surged into him.

Duncan was surprised. His front wheels came off the rails just near the platform.

James had seen everything.

"Trouble with the coaches, I presume."

"Stupid coaches. I did nothing to spite them."

"So you say."

The passengers were unharmed but they had to walk to the platform to board James's train.

"Well, it's best you take care for the rest of the day," advised James.

Duncan was too cross to reply.

Rusty came to help him.

"What happened Duncan?" he asked.

"These coaches were acting up," he replied.

"For no particular reason," wondered Rusty.


Rusty knew this wasn't true and wondered what the Thin Controller would have to say about this. Both of them found out soon enough.

"Due to your rough riding this morning, you must work at the Quarry for the rest of the day."

"Great," huffed Duncan. "Now I get sent to that old dump."

"Unless you'd like to move to the back of the shed."

"Uh, no Sir. I'll go to the Quarry."

Luke and Ivo Hugh soon heard the news.

"I can only imagine Duncan isn't in the best mood," said Luke.

"He's bound to cause more trouble," agreed Ivo Hugh.

"Fortunately, you can work off your mood around here," continued Luke. "Just keep an eye on him."

"Oh, okay."

Duncan arrived soon enough.

"Welcome Duncan," said Luke. "There's plenty of work here."

"This isn't my sort of work," huffed Duncan, grumpily.

"Well, you botched pulling coaches, so you might as well do work around here," replied Luke. "Besides, you can bump these trucks to get them in line. It'll be a piece of cake."


Duncan got to work but his mood didn't improve.

Luke and Ivo Hugh were concerned.

"He could get into an accident," said Ivo Hugh.

"Yeah," murmured Luke. "It's best if you work on the higher terrace and leave Duncan with Merrick. It is risky up there with some of those tight bends and ledges."

"I haven't worked up there that often though."

"You did well this morning. You'll be fine," assured Luke. "Now, I have to take this train of slate to the Works station."

Luke set off.

Ivo Hugh made his way up the mountain and found Duncan bumping his trucks about.

"Hey Duncan."

"Yes, Ivo Hugh. What do you what?"

"Well, you can go down the mountain and work with Merrick. I'll bring these trucks down."

"Rubbish," snorted Duncan. "I can handle these trucks."

He bumped them again.

"Oh! Oh! Oh!" they cried.

"You shouldn't bump them that much. They're bound to play tricks."

"Not with me. So maybe you should stop poking your funnel where your shouldn't."

Ivo Hugh was upset. He said nothing as he puffed back down.

"Never mind," comforted his Driver. "You did your best."

"He really is in a sour mood," sighed Ivo Hugh.

His Driver and Fireman agreed.

Duncan soon had his trucks ready and was puffing down the hill.

He began to pick up speed.

"Easy there!" called his Driver. "It isn't a race!"

"This is called getting work done quickly and efficiently," thought Duncan to himself.

The trucks saw a chance to pay Duncan out. They began pushing and pushing.

Duncan thought they were helping but his Driver grabbed the brake-handle.

"Come on!" said Duncan. "We can't have any delays!"

"We're going much too fast to be safe," replied the Driver.

Indeed they were. They rounded a bend and the trucks screamed as they just managed the curve.

"That was close," thought Duncan.

They were nearing a ledge where the line took a sharp turn. Duncan and his driver saw the warning sign.

"Whoa! Duncan!" cried the Driver.

Duncan saw the bend ahead too and realised to his horror, that at his speed, he would not make the turn.

"Help!" cried Duncan.

The Driver applied the brakes and reduced steam. Duncan was slowing down but it wasn't enough. Duncan's wheels left the rails and now he was hanging over the edge of the cliff.

"HELP!" yelled Duncan.

"We can't pull ourselves back!" exclaimed the Driver.

"Talk about a cliffhanger," said Duncan, nervously, as he peered down below. They were hundreds of metres above the lower terrace of the Quarry.

"How will we call for help?" wondered the Driver.

"Blow my whistle," said Duncan.

"All right. But we don't want to make the hillside shake."

Duncan blew his whistle and loudly as he could.

Now, all they could do was wait and hope.

Ivo Hugh was working with Merrick.

"At least I have some quiet work," he sighed.

"Yeah, and you don't have to bother with Duncan," said Merrick.

Suddenly, they heard a whistle.

"It must be Duncan's," said Owen. "He might be in trouble."

"I better go investigate," said Ivo Hugh and he puffed away.

Duncan was scared. He could see some stones crumbling off the cliff he was on.

Ivo Hugh arrived and was horrified to see Duncan hanging just on the edge.

"What happened?!"

"I'll explain later! Just get me back on the track!"

But Ivo Hugh's Fireman had bad news.

"We need more coal if we're going to pull him back."

"I have plenty," said Duncan.

"First, let's anchor you to some rocks," said Ivo Hugh's Driver. "Then, we can load up with coal."

They did so.

"The chains can hold him as long as the cliff holds up," said Ivo Hugh's Driver, grimly.

Finally, Ivo Hugh had more coal. He moved the trucks out of the way and now had to rescue Duncan, who was as scared as he ever been.

"All right. Hold on!" cried Ivo Hugh.

Ivo Hugh puffed and pulled and puffed and pulled, and finally got Duncan off the cliff, and back onto the rails.

"Phew," sighed Ivo Hugh.

"Thank you for saving me," said Duncan. "I'm sorry I was rude."

"That's all right. I was glad to help," replied Ivo Hugh. "Now, let's get these trucks down to the lower terrance."

They did so safely.

Luke had just returned.

"How are you two getting along?" he asked.

"Fine now," said Duncan, a bit more cheery.

"Well, I'm glad you're feeling better."

"Yeah, I am now."

"Did anything happen whilst I was gone?"

"In short, I saved his life," chuckled Ivo Hugh.


"Yeah," said Duncan. "I should have been more careful and not so grumpy."

"Yes," said Luke. "We don't always mind your complaining."

"Just don't let it interfere with your work," said Ivo Hugh.

That night, Ivo Hugh told the other engines all about it.

"Amazing!" said Peter Sam.

"Just like when I saved Falcon," said Duke. "Good work youngster."

"Thank you all," said Ivo Hugh.

Just then, the Thin Controller came up.

Duncan spoke first.

"Sir, I apologise for my behaviour today. I have learnt my lesson."

"I'm aware of what happened Duncan, and I know you can get a bit grumpy at times, just learn to handle it properly."

"I know Sir."

"That being said, I hope everyone is looking forward to tomorrow with whatever jobs you are given."

All the engines agreed, including Duncan.




  • Duke makes a reference to Bulldog.
  • This story marks the first appearance and first speaking roles of both Merrick and Owen in The New Adventures on Rails.