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The Queue is the sixteenth story of volume three.

The Queue
Season X, Episode 66
Air date 18 July 2021
Written by MainLineEngines
Directed by MainLineEngines
Episode guide
The Hose
The Trouble with Ballast Trucks


All the steam engines know how important it is to take on water.

Recently, Henry had been having a problem. Every time before his afternoon train, he needed to take on water but there was always a long queue at the water tower. By the time Henry had filled up with water, it was almost time for his train to depart. He grumbled about this in the shed.

"I shouldn't be kept waiting," he grumbled to the others. "My train is due before anyone else's."

"You always want priority," laughed James.

"Perhaps if you had a smaller water-tank, that wouldn't be a problem," teased Duck.

"Well, he does need plenty of water," added Gordon.

"You should try getting to the queue earlier," suggested Jessie.

"I've tried that, but I can't seem to get ahead," said Henry. "That's why I should be allowed to go first."

The other engines didn't take much notice. They were used to Henry's grumbling.

The next day, Henry waited impatiently for his Driver and Fireman to return. When he was ready, he went straight for the water tower but he soon realised that he was too late. Jessie and Donald were there.

"Bother," groaned Henry. "Now I'm stuck behind you two."

"I told you to come earlier," chuckled Jessie.

"Dinna fash yersel Henry," laughed Donald. "We'll be done in no time!"

"Yeah, if anything, he's the one who takes the longest to fill up with water," added Jessie.

Donald chortled in agreement whilst Henry just let off steam furiously.

At last, both Jessie and Donald had had their turns, and Henry was soon being filled up with water. By the time he had filled up with water, it was time for his train to leave.

"I can't be kept waiting," grumbled Henry at the platform.

"I'm sorry old boy, but there's nothing we can do," said Henry's Driver.

"I need to find a way to get ahead in the queue," continued Henry.

"I'll see if I can come earlier," said Henry's Fireman.

Henry felt better after that. He pulled his train to Vicarstown and back without any problems.

The following day, he was feeling a lot better.

"I'm sure I'll get ahead in the queue," he thought to himself.

His Driver and Fireman returned earlier, and once he was ready, he puffed over to the water column. However, he was surprised to find more engines there. Gordon, James, Douglas, and Oliver were all there.

"You're here a lot earlier," said Gordon.

"I was trying to get ahead of the queue," explained Henry. "I can't believe there's even more engines than yesterday."

"Your train isn't even due for another hour," said James.

"The same could said for the others who are in queue when I want to take on water," retorted Henry.

"Well, it seems like ye juist have tae wait then," said Douglas.

"It shouldn't be long. Well, unless Gordon takes up all the water," laughed Oliver.

"Oh I'll leave some for Henry," chuckled Gordon.

"I might as well get in queue now," thought Henry. "Otherwise, there might be more engines later."

Fortunately for Henry, everything went smoothly and he was soon taking on water. He backed onto his train at the Big Station, and found that he had time to spare.

"You're here earlier," said Jessie. "Was the queue a lot shorter?"

"No," replied Henry. "I arrived at the queue a lot earlier and there were even more engines than usual."

"Hmm, I see. Lots of train are due out, that's why."

"I guess I made my crew come earlier for nothing."

"Oh, that's all right old boy," soothed Henry's Driver. "At least we tried."

"Still, there must be a way for me to take on water, and not have to worry about ridiculously long queues," said Henry.

Later, Henry stopped at the Works station.

"Pehaps the only other places I could take on water are here and Vicarstown," thought Henry.

Later, he told his Driver and Fireman about his idea.

"I suppose it wouldn't hurt to try," said the Fireman.

So the next day, he attempted to take on water at Vicarstown. However, he found Molly and Dodger in front of him.

"Sorry Henry, but I must get going with my coal trucks," called Molly.

Henry had to wait. He just barely made it to the platform on time.

"Well that didn't work," sighed Henry.

The next day, he attempted to take on water at the Works station but he was delayed at the Junction. As a result, there was no time to fill up with water. When Henry reached Vicarstown, he needed more water to make the return journey. But this time, Emily and David were already in queue.

"Bother," grumbled Henry. "I can't wait. I must find another place to take on water."

Henry puffed away from Vicarstown, and struggled to each station, but with every wheel turn, he was slowly running out of water.

When he reached Maron, his Fireman was concerned.

"I don't think we're going to make it all the way to the Big Station," he said, grimly.

"But there's nowhere else to take on water," Henry protested.

"I'm sure we can get water at Edward's station," said the Driver.

So Henry struggled to Edward's station.

"We have to take on water here," said Henry, as he stopped at the platform. "Otherwise, we might not get to the Junction."

Henry's Driver agreed.

Just then, Edward puffed in. He looked tired out.

"Hullo Edward," said Henry.

"Hullo Henry," said Edward, as he wheeshed steam feebly.

"What's the matter?" asked Henry.

"Oh, it's just been a long and busy day," explained Edward. "I like working but today just feels like too much. I would really like to rest but I still have another journey to make. First, I need to take on more water. I'll probably feel better after a nice drink."

Henry knew he needed water too, but he said to Edward: "Go ahead then. A nice drink of water will make you feel much better."

"Thanks Henry. I'll see you around," said Edward, thankfully.

Just then, the signal dropped and Henry steamed away.

"What was all that about?" asked Henry's Driver.

"I don't know. I saw he was tired, and he is my friend, so I just, let him go first," replied Henry.

"That was certainly kind of you," put in Henry's Fireman.

The Driver agreed. But now, Henry struggled even more. His water-level continued to drop. Finally, he was in the tunnel and nearing the Junction.

"Nearly there, nearly there," panted Henry.

He was at the mouth of the tunnel when his wheels stopped all together.

"It can't be," cried Henry.

"Sorry old boy," said his Fireman, as he put the fire out. "We can't go on without water."

The Guard went ahead to the station to tell the Signalman what had happened. Meanwhile, Henry waited for help. His fire was out now and his boiler was cooling.

It wasn't long before Douglas came to rescue him.

"Dinna fash yersel Henry," said Douglas. "I'll get ye tae the station."

And in no time at all, Henry was filling up with water.

"I have to ask, why ye didnae take on water earlier."

"There were various incidents that prevented me from doing so," replied Henry.

"So ye say," murmured Douglas. "From what I heard, ye let yon Edward take on water before ye."

"Yeah, there was also that. No big deal really."

"That was brawly of ye."

"It was the least I could do."

"Well then, good for ye," said Douglas. "Now," he continued, "I'll take yere train to the Big Station. See ye at the sheds later."

"All right then. Thank you Douglas."

Douglas puffed away with Henry's train. Henry made his way back to the sheds and found his story was there before him. Needless to say, the others were impressed that Henry let Edward take on water even when he really needed it.

"It's moments like those that remind me that there's more to Henry than just complaining about everything," chuckled James.

Although Henry quickly grew tired of hearing how he ran out of water, he was glad to have been able to help Edward in some way or another.

The next morning, he saw Edward at the station.

"Morning Edward."

"Good morning Henry. So I heard that you ran out of water yesterday."

"You did? Well, yeah, I did run out of water near the Junction," replied Henry. "I was going to take on water here till I saw how tired you were."

"I wouldn't have mind if you took on water though. You know I always press on," said Edward.

"I know, but you are my friend and I felt it was the right thing to do."

"In that case, thank you Henry."

"You're welcome Edward."

Then Henry puffed away. He was glad to have been able to help his friend.

Later that day, Henry puffed to the water tower and was surprised to see that no-one was there.

"I better take this opportunity," thought Henry.

Then, James and Jessie puffed up behind him.

"Enjoying your drink?" asked Jessie.

"Yes. You'll just have to wait," replied Henry.

"No worries. That was the plan," said James. "From now on, you can have priority at this time."


"Perhaps. I have a train to take in fifteen minutes. I really should have gone first."

"And I have shunting to do," put in Jessie. "Important jobs are waiting and you're taking so long."

"Too long," agreed James.

"That's all right!" laughed Henry. "I don't mind the queue now. Just as long as I don't run out of water, I'll be fine."

Nowadays, Henry doesn't mind the queue at the water tower as much. He is just glad to be a Really Useful Engine.




  • The scene where Henry lets Edward take on water was actually written about a year prior to the rest of the episode.
  • Much like the previous story, this story also has to do with water towers.