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The Back of the Train is the second story of volume three.

The Back of the Train
Season X, Episode 52
Air date 10 January 2021
Written by MainLineEngines
Directed by MainLineEngines
Episode guide
James and the Pipes
The Goods Train


It was a sunny morning at the Clay Pits. Marion was loading trucks of china clay for Bill and Ben to take to Brendam.

"Since Timothy is out of service, we have to do all the work ourselves," puffed Bill.

"Well, it's a good chance to prove ourselves useful," put in Ben.

"Yeah, we don't just go around playing tricks all the time."

"It is one of your tricks that has Timothy in need of repairs," cut in Marion.

"Oh, I guess so," said Bill, sheepishly.

"We thought that would blow over by now," added Ben.

"It's still fresh in our minds," said Marion. "Anyways, go and get some more trucks for me to load up."

Bill hurried off to fetch some.

"This is going to be one of the longest trains we've ever pulled," said Ben.

"It is quite long," agreed Marion. "Perhaps one of you should push from the back."

"Well I'm already here at the front, so Bill can go behind."

Just then, Bill came up.

"What's all the fuss about?" he asked.

"You have to push from behind," said Ben.

"Wait, why?"

"The train is very long, so it's up to you to help from behind," explained Ben.

"I'm not going at the back," complained Bill.

"Why not?"

"I like to see where I'm going."

"But the journey will be easier if you push from behind."

"Why don't you go at the back?"

"I'm already here up front, so it's easier if you go to the back."

"Hmm, but it's even easier if I just couple up front."


Before Ben could say anything else, Bill switched tracks and buffered up in front of his twin.

"Hey! What are you doing?"

"Getting ready to go. We can't be late to the Docks."

"Fine," grumbled Ben. "Just know that if anything happens, it's your fault."

"Relax. I shunted all the trucks so once Marion is done we're good to go," replied Bill.

Marion had just finished loading the Twins' trucks and noticed that Bill had forgotten the brake van. She whistled to them, but Bill and Ben thought they were ready to go so they started. Before she knew it, the Twins were gone in a cloud of steam.

"This can only mean trouble," said Marion.

The trucks soon realised that there was no brake van but the Twins were unaware.

They steamed into the Docks and before their Drivers applied the brakes, they bumped into each other and screamed, "On! On! Faster! Faster!"

Both crews were knocked over in the cab and before they knew it, they were gaining speed out of the Docks.

"Oh no!" cried Bill.

"Help!" cried Ben.

Cranky and Salty were surprised.

The crew recovered and Drivers slammed on the brakes and brought the train to a stop just in time.

"That was close," sighed Bill.

The Twins brought the train back to the quayside.

"Sorry about that," puffed Ben.

"Are you two all right?" asked Cranky.

"We're fine," they puffed.

"Well, me hearties, I think this was partly caused by the absence of the Guard," said Salty.

"What do you mean?" asked Bill.

"There is no brake van at the end of your train," said Cranky.

"You idiot!" scolded Ben. "I told to go to the back of the train and you refused. If you had, you would have realised the brake van was missing."

"Hey! You were the one insisting that someone has to go to the back," protested Bill.

The Twins argued so loudly and long that Salty, Cranky, Drivers and Firemen had to intervene to stop them from arguing.

Finally, they calmed down.

"Just don't let it happen again," said their Drivers.

The Twins were soon resting when the Dock Manager came up.

"You are to collect pumpkins from Edward's station and take it to some stations along the Main Line and up to Ffarquhar."

The Twins were excited.

"We don't go there very often," they said then they made their way to Edward's station.

The Fat Controller was there waiting for them.

"Bill and Ben, I heard all about what happened this morning. To prevent any more incidents, one of you must be at the back of this train," said the Fat Controller.

"Well, leaving the brake van behind was your fault Bill," said Ben.

"You deserve a turn at the back though," retorted Bill.

"It doesn't matter who does what," boomed the Fat Controller. "Just work together."

"Yes Sir," replied the Twins.

"Good to hear," smiled the Fat Controller. Then he went to catch his train.

Soon, Bill was waiting at the back.

"I can't believe I have to do this," he grumbled.

Then he had a cheeky idea. He waited till everything was ready but before the Guard could blow his whistle, he went up to Ben.

"Everything's ready Ben!"

"Good. Now get to the back of the train," replied Ben.

"Oh right. I'm supposed to push from behind. I forgot!"

"Very funny Bill. You're just trying to avoid being at the back."

"Actually, I think I have avoided it," chuckled Bill as he once again reversed in front of Ben. "Besides, the brake van is there for sure."

Ben didn't want to waste time arguing so once the Guard's whistle blew, they set off.

They were soon on their way to Ffarquhar and making good time.

"See, all is going fine," said Bill. "You worry for no reason."

Ben just ignored Bill.

They were nearing the station by the river when they thought they heard a noise from behind but they didn't think much of it.

They puffed into Ffarquhar and saw Percy ready to leave.

"Great to see you Bill and Ben but I have to go now or else I'll be late to the Harbour!" called Percy and he was off in a huff.

"I guess we'll talk another time," said Bill.

They were preparing for their return journey with the empty vans when the Stationmaster came up.

"I have been told that Percy ran over some boxes of pumpkins," he said.

"We had no idea," said the Twins.

"But if Bill had been at the back, he would have noticed," said Ben, crossly.

"Oh, so this is my fault again," grumbled Bill.

"You had one simple job!" scolded Ben.

"Still, the van doors would have opened," put in Bill.

"But Percy's accident could have been prevented," replied Ben.

The Twins were very cross at each other but before they could continue arguing, Toby came up.

"What's going on here?" he asked.

"Bill's ignorance has caused trouble all day," grumbled Ben.

"Nonsense. You are just as much to blame in this," retorted Bill.

"All right! All right! Stop arguing and settle down you two," said Toby, firmly. "You are meant to work together, so on your return journey, one of you must go at the back. Bill, you're capable of doing it, so I don't want any complaints. Besides, if you run into trouble again such as a broken coupling or leaving the Guard behind, the Fat Controller will hear about it and you'll probably be left in your shed for a long time . . . maybe even forever . . ."

Bill and Ben were shocked.

"No! We don't want that!" they squeaked.

"So I figured," murmured Toby. "Just do your job properly and you'll be fine!" he laughed. "Now I better get to the Quarry. Make it home safe."

With that, Toby trundled away.

"We should listen to him," said Bill.

"Yeah. I'll go at the back so we don't have any problems," said Ben.

"No Bill. It was my job and I shall do it this time," said Bill.


"For real this time."

Soon, Bill and Ben were ready to go. Ben was at the front and Bill at the back. They were soon making good time. They stopped at the Junction and waited for a goods train to pass. Then, they arrived at Edward's station to fill up with coal and water.

Then, Edward bustled in.

"Hullo Bill and Ben. Eventful day, am I right?"

"Oh, you've heard," they replied.

Edward chuckled.

"It seems you've learned your lesson though."

"Yeah. Definitely."

"Good," smiled Edward. "Get back to the clay pits. Marion has more trucks waiting for you to take the Docks."

"Sounds good," said Ben.

"And we'll work together this time," added Bill.

"Good to hear."

Edward puffed away and Bill and Ben made their way back to clay pits with a lesson well learned.




  • This story takes place at the same time as Percy's Lucky Day which is featured in You Lucky Engine.