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Motivation is the eighteenth story of the first volume.

Season X, Episode 18
Air date 1 October 2019
Written by MainLineEngines
Directed by MainLineEngines
Episode guide
Coal Strike
Behind the Gate


Rusty is a diesel engine who helps out on the Skarloey Railway with maintenance, shunting, and any other job that might arise. Fred is also a diesel engine who had been built to help Rusty. But if you'd have heard Rusty talking a short while ago, it might appear as if he had never been built.

"I'm always stuck picking up after him," groaned Rusty to the others one day.

"He is sometimes ill," put in Sir Handel.

"Nine times out of ten, I can tell he's faking," replied Rusty. "It's not fair at all. There's so much work and he isn't helping!"

The next day, Rusty was shunting coaches whilst Fred rested in the shed.

"Still hasn't shown a wheel. Skarloey is ready before him," muttered Rusty.

Just then, an Inspector arrived. "Sir Handel has come off at Lakeside. You must go and put things right."

"All right, but that means Fred will have to shunt Duncan's coaches," replied Rusty.

"Well, he should be ready."

"All right. I'm going."

Rusty, Mr. Hugh and some workmen set off to Lakeside.

Fred's Driver meanwhile was having a hard time getting his engine to start.

"Come on. Five more minutes," sighed Fred, sleepily.

The Inspector arrived. "Wake up! You have to shunt Duncan's coaches."

"That's Rusty's job."

"He has another job to do. This is exactly why you were built: to help Rusty out."

"Fine, fine. I'm going."

Fred rolled slowly into action but hadn't gone very far when he suddenly stopped.

"What's wrong?" asked the Inspector.

"I feel all hot. Driver must inspect me," explained Fred.

"I highly doubt that. You've barely moved five metres."

"Come on!" encouraged the Driver. "Look lively. It's a beautiful day to be working."

"Eh," replied Fred.

The Driver tried to start Fred, but he wouldn't move.

Meanwhile, Duncan had steam up and chuffed over to the platform.

"James will be here any minute," he thought. Then, "wait a second, where are my coaches? Rusty must have forgotten. That just means I'll have to do it myself."

Duncan didn't know Rusty had been called away and Fred had been assigned Rusty's job. Fred was still being uncooperative as Duncan fetched the coaches himself.

"Look, Duncan's fetching his own coaches," said Fred. "Now, I can go back to the shed!"

"You silly engine," scolded the Inspector. "Duncan could be delayed because of that."

Duncan brought his coaches to the platform to find James already there.

"Sorry, but I had to fetch my own coaches," explained Duncan.

"I thought Rusty fetched your coaches," replied James. "Is he mad at you or something."

"I've not done anything wrong. I even helped him with maintenance a couple weeks ago because Fred was 'ill'."

"Well, you'd best be off. You're already a bit late."

The Guard's whistle blew and Duncan was on his way.

Later, he met Rusty at the passing loop.

"There you are. Why didn't you fetch my coaches?" asked Duncan.

"I was going to, but I got called away. Fred was supposed to shunt your coaches."

"Well he didn't. Luckily, I gained back the lost time."

"I assume Fred was 'very ill'," added Rusty.

"If that's sarcasm, then yes."

"You know what, I'd had it with that engine. He was built to help me out but all he's done is cause more pain for everyone. Now it's time to teach him a lesson."

"What are you going to do?"

"Tomorrow, I'll pretend I'm ill."

"Taste of his own medicine."


"Well, I do think he needs to prove his worth or he'll have some explaining to do to the Thin Controller."

Then, Duncan set off. Rusty rolled away, pleased with his plan.

The next morning, the engines woke to the sound of Rusty groaning and moaning.

"I feel so ill!" complained Rusty.

"Are you all right?" asked Skarloey.

"No. My axles are aching. I feel all hot and bothered. I can't work today."

"Who will fetch our coaches?" asked Duncan.

"Well, Fred of course," replied Rheneas.

When Fred heard the news, he was horrified.

"He's faking," accused Fred. "If anything, I'm the one that is ill."

"No you're not," replied his Driver. "Now come on, we have to fill in for Rusty today."

"I won't go until you prove he really is ill."

"Well, if that's the case, you're not ill and you can work."

Still, Fred wouldn't budge and Rusty continued to pretend he was ill.

It was nearly time for Peter Sam's train but neither engine moved.

Peter Sam came over to Fred. "Come on, you have to fetch my coaches."

"You can do it," replied Fred. "I'm too tired."

"I'm still a bit tired from yesterday's work, but I'm already in steam and ready for another day of work. Honestly," he went on, "diesels are supposed to be quicker to maintain than us steam engines."

"Not all."

"Look, you're clearly not ill. Do some work for a change!"

"But Rusty's got it all covered."

"No he doesn't. He needs your help."

By now, Peter Sam's train was due. Henry had arrived with his passengers, but there was no train.

"It's not like him to be late," Henry told the Stationmaster.

"I'll go see what's wrong."

The Stationmaster found Peter Sam bringing his coaches to the platform.

"Sorry, we had a delay," explained Peter Sam.

"What happened?" asked Henry.

"We wanted Fred to do Rusty's job today since he's ill. But that didn't work at all. The Thin Controller will be cross."

Peter Sam was right.

The Thin Controller sent for Rusty and Fred.

"Aha! You're not ill!" said Fred, victoriously.

"Neither are you," said the Thin Controller.

Fred stopped in his tracks. He felt nervous now.

"I'm sorry, Sir," began Rusty, "but I couldn't take it anymore. I needed to teach Fred a lesson. So I figured if I was ill, it'd motivate him to do my jobs and stop being so lazy."

"I understand your intention, but you could have just come to me."

"Sorry Sir."

The Thin Controller turned to Fred.

"I am the controller of the railway. I do not want lazy engines. You are lucky to have a place where you can work. The only difference between you and engines on Barry Island is you're fully functional and have many job opportunities."

"I'm sorry Sir," apologised Fred. "I just don't think I can handle the work."

"Fred, when I first arrived, I wasn't sure of that either. But you know why I can do everything I do. I worked hard to learn everything."

"Rusty's right."

"Sir, what if Fred and I worked together? I can teach you everything there is to know about our duties," suggested Rusty.

"I would work more if I learned more about my job," added Fred.

"Very well. But I expect a lot from the both of you."

The Thin Controller walked away.

"I'm sorry for being so lazy," ventured Fred.

"I forgive. I'm sorry for pretending to be ill. Now, let's go do some shunting."

With that, Fred roared into life and the diesels set off to do some shunting in the yards.

Now, with Rusty's help, Fred is learning to become a Really Useful engine.