Coal Strike is the seventeenth story of the first volume.
|Season X, Episode 17|
|Air date||24 September 2019|
The Trouble with the Enthusiasts
There have been some changes at the Vicarstown Coal Mines. These were not well received by Dodger nor the workers. At one point, it seemed like no work would ever be done again. However, I am glad to say that everything was resolved and Dodger is once again, busy at the Mines. Keep reading to find out what happened.
It was a lovely morning at Vicarstown. Dodger, Molly, and David were getting ready for the day.
"I'll be on Edward's line today," said David.
"Nice," replied Dodger. "Will you be back tonight?"
"Yes, of course."
"You know," continued Dodger, "there's a new manager at the Mines. Today is his first day."
"Have you met him?"
"Not yet. But I remembered we were great friends with the last Manager who just retired."
"Hadn't he been there almost since you got to Sodor?" said Molly.
"I think so!" laughed Dodger.
Just then, Dodger's Driver arrived.
"Well, I'd best be off. I'll bring your train in no time, Molly."
Dodger steamed away to the Mines.
At the Mines, the new Manager was already talking to the workmen when Dodger arrived. The new Manager saw Dodger.
"Who is he?" asked the Manager.
"He's Dodger. Didn't you meet him when you came in for training," replied a miner.
"Must have slipped from my mind. Anyways, everyone get to work."
Dodger puffed over to the Manager.
"Hullo, Sir. My name is Dodger. I work here shunting trucks and taking trucks to Vicarstown for other engines to deliver."
"Are you the only engine based here?"
"For the most part, yes."
"Well, I suppose you'll do for now."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"Nothing. Just get work and I'll be watching."
Dodger began shunting.
"I'm not the only one who got a bad feeling from that conversation, right," Dodger told his Driver and Fireman.
"I agree, that was not the most pleasant first conversation," said the Driver.
"He just doesn't know you well enough," added the Fireman. "We'll show him that you're irreplaceable."
Dodger soon had a line of trucks to take to Molly.
The Manager observed Dodger as he was coupled up to the trucks.
"Are you sure you can pull all that?" asked the Manager.
"I don't mean to blow my own trumpet, but I had heavier loads and steeper grades to climb back at Ardsley," replied Dodger, confidently.
"I just think you might need help."
"Nonsense. I've been doing this for years."
"And sometimes, a change is in order." The Manager walked away.
"If he even thinks about replacing me, I'll show him," thought Dodger, grimly as he steamed out of the Mines.
Dodger was soon at Vicarstown where Molly was waiting.
"Hullo again," she called as Dodger steamed in.
"Hey," replied Dodger, drily.
"Is everything all right?"
"Yes, I'm fine. I'll have your trucks sorted in no time."
Molly's train was soon ready to go.
"I know something is up with him," she thought. "I'll ask again later."
Back at the Mines, the Manager was waiting for Dodger.
"There you are. What took you so long?"
"So long? I was only gone like half an hour."
"It's been more than that on my watch. Now organise the yard!"
"Yes, of course. All in good time."
"This is exactly why this old system isn't working."
"Not working. You've been here one day. You haven't had a chance to properly look at how everything works."
"I know quite well how everything works around here. We need some changes to improve efficiency."
"Nonsense! Now, I've shunting to do."
"Well, you'd best do it while you still can . . ."
Dodger was grumpy as he shunted trucks to the hopper.
"Hey, what's with all the excess bumping," complained the trucks.
"Sorry, I'm just feeling a bit down today," replied Dodger.
"We should play tricks on him then," said a couple trucks.
"Yeah, in the Manager's words 'while you still can'," continued Dodger.
"What? Are they replacing you? Stuff and nonsense!" grumbled the trucks.
"I'm not sure, but given I haven't made a good first impression with the new manager it seems like I'll be replaced by a modern diesel just like the rest of my brothers and sisters faced," finished Dodger. "Well, at least right now, I'm still in good working order," he thought to himself grimly.
For the rest of the day, Dodger did his work without any further interruptions. Soon, it was quitting time.
"Well, as usual, another great day," thought Dodger.
But he noticed the workers were gathered around the entrance to the Mines.
"What's going on?" asked the Driver.
"We have to work an extra hour three times a week," they explained.
"Are you getting paid extra?" asked the Fireman.
"Apparently not. And new guy says our raises weren't approved by the Board, so that just takes the biscuit."
"You know, I might be replaced," added Dodger.
All the workmen gasped.
"You can't! You've been here years!"
"Well none of that seems to matter to this new manager."
"None of this is fair," said a workman. "Dodger could get replaced and we don't get our raises."
"I can live without a raise, but without Dodger, this place is doomed," said another.
Everyone began to talk loudly.
Just then, Molly steamed in with empty trucks.
"What's going on?" she asked.
"Its been a weird day," replied Dodger. "I'll tell you at the sheds later."
"I thought you were done."
"The miners still have work to do."
Dodger shunted the empty trucks and it seems like ages but finally, all the miners started to go home.
"You didn't do as badly as I thought you would," said the new manager to Dodger as he left.
David and Molly were already in the sheds when Dodger puffed in.
"There you are," said Molly. "I think you've had a rough day."
"I have," sighed Dodger.
"Well, you can talk to us about it," said David.
"I know. You two are my closest friends." So he began. "First impression with the new manager - not good. Seems like he's going to replace me."
"He doesn't how useful steam engines are," put in David.
"Yeah, we may be old, but we always get the job done," added Molly.
"Efficiently too," added Dodger. "But it seems like the workmen aren't very fond of the new manager either."
"Is it about their raises?" asked David.
"Yeah, plus they had to work an extra hour today."
"So what are you going to do?" asked Molly.
"Sleep on it. Trust me, if he even thinks about replacing me, I'll block all the tracks to the Mines so no-one can get there."
"So you'll go on strike," concluded David.
"I know that going on strike is risky, but I will not go down without a fight."
David and Molly were not sure what to think.
"Honestly, I don't imagine anyone else working at the Mines," said Molly at last.
"I guess what she's trying to say is that if you're on strike, we'll support you," finished David.
"Thanks. You two are the best."
Then, they all went to sleep.
The next morning, Dodger explained everything to his Driver and Fireman.
"The workers do have a union so they can go on strike if they wish to," explained the Fireman.
"That's great. But I'll only do it if I'm being replaced," replied Dodger.
Then, he puffed away to the Mines.
Dodger worked without trouble all morning, but then, things started to change. Diesel arrived at the Mines.
"What are you doing here?" asked Dodger.
"The Manager sent for me," explained Diesel.
"There he is. A temporary solution to increase efficiency," said the Manager
"Ah, so you're getting rid of me."
"I wouldn't call it that, just, you'll have less work to do."
"Huh, good luck with him. He barely cares about us steam engines, so you can imagine how little he cares about shunting coal trucks."
"That is true," agreed Diesel.
"He still has to do as told," retorted the manager. "Besides, he's one of the best shunters available."
"For station yards yes. But mines? Having to tackle that hill and pulling more than twenty trucks at a time, I don't think so," continued Dodger.
"That's true as well," said Diesel.
"There's nothing you can do about it," replied the Manager. "I'm going back to my office to find a permanent replacement."
Dodger grinned. "Very well then. You've left me no choice."
"What do you mean?"
"Time to go on strike!"
"Works for me," cheered Diesel, and he purred away.
"I have worked here more than fifty-five years. No one can just barge in and replace me! Never!" announced Dodger.
He was coupled up to some trucks and pulled them over the points blocking the entrance to the Mines.
"Until you give the workmen the raises they deserve and stop denying that I'm the only engine suited to work here, I am out of here!"
The Manager watched helplessly as Dodger steamed away.
The workmen on the other hand, stopped working. No engines could enter the Mines, which meant no coal trucks could be exported.
At Vicarstown, James was surprised to see Dodger.
"What the heck are you doing here? Shouldn't you be at the Mines?"
"Not anyone," replied Dodger. "I'm on strike."
"Strike. You - you're kidding, right."
"Not at all."
"You idiot! We'll all run out of coal."
"Don't you think I know that? The Manager wants to be rid of me. I won't allow it. The entrance is blocked so there'll be no work until he promises to keep me and give the workmen their raises."
Dodger puffed away to the sheds leaving James at a loss for words.
"This is bad. This is bad," thought James.
Later, he met Bear at the Works station.
"Hey James. How are you doing?"
"I was fine until Dodger announced he's on strike."
"Who's on what now?" came a familiar voice.
"Oh, Sir. Didn't you see you there."
"What did you just say?"
"Dodger is on strike."
"He mentioned that he was being replaced and the workmen hadn't had a raise."
"Well, I must deal with this at once."
But more trouble was brewing. All across Sodor, coal bunkers began to get empty. Since no coal was being exported, there was no way to fill the bunkers.
The Fat Controller was at Vicarstown, determined to fix everything.
"First things first. I shall have to speak to the Manager."
Soon, the Manager was at the station. The Fat Controller spoke to him at once.
"I understand you just got started and want to make some adjustments, but Dodger really is irreplaceable. No-one has ever been able to match the work he does."
"I still maintain that another engine could do better."
The Fat Controller maintained his stance on why he kept so many steam engines, but the Manager wouldn't listen.
By now, a lot of engines were running out of coal and with no more coal being delivered, this could cause a lot of delays.
The Fat Controller had to re-assign many jobs due to the lack of engines. Then, he spoke to the Manager again.
"Diesels can be useful, but they shouldn't replace steam engines," explained the Fat Controller. "Both diesels and steam engines work together. They're all one family. I bought Dodger specifically for work at the Mines, and if I thought he hadn't done a good job, I'd have gotten someone else. But the fact of the matter is, Dodger is the most well-suited engine for the job. You couldn't find anyone else who loves the work more than him."
"I just don't know," replied the Manager.
"It might take a while, but trust me, Dodger is a hard-working engine. Any railway would want an engine like him."
Back at the sheds, many workmen had come and were resting with Dodger and Molly.
"You know," began Dodger, "this strike might be one of my best ideas yet."
"I just hope the Fat Controller can talk some sense into that new manager," added Molly.
"Speaking of, here they come!" said a workman.
Everyone stopped and turned their attention to the Manager and the Fat Controller.
"I just want to say that I made a mistake in assuming you couldn't be as reliable as a diesel engine. Sir Topham Hatt told me a great deal about you, and so, I will not replace you."
"Thank you," replied Dodger. "Trust me, you won't regret it."
"I second that," put in Molly.
"Very well," smiled the Fat Controller. "This also means the workmen will be getting their raises as well."
"Yes, of course. And no more extra hours too."
That of course made everyone content.
"How about we fetch a long train of coal and deliver it all along the line?" suggested Dodger.
"Sounds splendid," replied Molly.
"All right. You two best be on your way then," said the Fat Controller.
Molly and Dodger quickly delivered coal to all the stations, and soon enough, all the steam engines had hot fireboxes and making steam.
"I'm glad this strike of yours didn't go on too long," said Victor, at the Works.
"So am I," replied Dodger. "All he needed was some sense talked into him."
"I'm glad to be able to unload coal too," said Kevin.
But then, he suddenly dropped the coal besides Dodger and a thick black cloak arose all around them.
"Sorry to get your paint dirty. Slip of the hook, you know."
"No worries. I'm used to getting dirty. It's part of the job."
To everyone's relief, work at the Mines resumed and there were no further mishaps with the Manager, who has now come to accept that Dodger is a really useful engine.
- This is the first episode to have a foreword.
- The scene with James and Bear at Crovan's Gate was originally at Tidmouth Sheds.