Thomas, the Really Useful Engine is an Adventures on Rails short detailing Thomas's arrival on Sodor and how he went from being the pilot engine to running his very own branch line. It was released on January 16th, 2017.
|Thomas, the Really Useful Engine|
|Season B, Episode 7|
|Air date||16 January 2017|
|Written by|| Rev. W. Awdry (original)
Thomas and the Avalanche
James and the Fat Controller
Thomas arrives on Sodor after a war time mix-up and become the pilot engine at Vicarstown, but longs to see the world. Soon, he gets his chance to run his own branch line and has several adventures.
In January 1914, Chief Locomotive Engineer of the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway, Lawson Billinton, better known as L.B. Billinton, proposed an interesting modification to his recently built E2 class; extended side tanks. This was because the original batch often had inadequate water supply.
Shortly after the fourth E2 was built, another was finished with the proposed "extended side tanks".
The new engine had six small wheels, a short stumpy funnel, a short stumpy boiler and a short, stumpy dome. He was quite fussy, arranging trucks and coaches for the bigger engines. His greater capacity of water meant he could work more hours without stopping.
Due to the success of the extended side tanks, the remaining six E2s were ordered with extended side tanks, however, the war delayed this . . .
As World War I advanced, other railways found they needed shunting engines.
The newly built E2 was called by the Manager.
"One of our neighbouring railways, the Southern Eastern Railway needs an extra shunting engine. I am sending you to help out with the war efforts," he explained.
"Of course, Sir! I'll be Really Useful! But, will I come back?"
"That depends," replied the Manager, "but however long you stay there, I want you to be as helpful as possible."
So with that, the E2 set off . . .
Off the shores of England, there is an Island called Sodor with a recently formed railway known as the "North Western".
The Main Line was run by several box tank and one the branch lines was run by "Coffee Pots".
The man in charge of the railway was Sir Topham Hatt, but they called him the Fat Director. He made sure everything ran on time. He had a great plan to build several more stations along the Main Line and add improvements. But he soon found that he would have extra help . . .
The E2 was chuffing along the line when they passed a signal box. He whistled cheerfully to the signalman.
The Signalman was fast asleep . . . when he woke up, he saw the E2 chuffing down the wrong line!
"Oh no!" he thought, but it was too late.
Now, the E2 was headed towards Sodor!
The next day, punctually at noon, the E2 steamed into a station named Barrow. He was surprised.
"Are we supposed to be here?" he asked his crew.
His Driver looked at a map.
The Stationmaster was surprised to see the E2.
"Hullo. Are you here to work on the North Western Railway?"
"North Western Railway? I don't think so," replied the E2.
The Station Master was surprised.
"Oh! Then I'd suggest you go across the bridge to Vicarstown, the terminus and headquarters of the Railway."
So, they crossed the newly constructed bridge to Vicarstown.
The Fat Director was in his office when he heard an unfamiliar whistle.
"Who's that?" he wondered. He put on his hat and hurried out.
There, to his surprise was the new E2!
"Hullo? What are you doing here?" asked the Fat Director.
"We were sent to help during the war at the Southern Easter Railway, but we've accidentally been sent . . . here," replied the Driver.
"Some mix-up then."
"What is your name?" the Fat Director asked the E2.
"Name? Uh, well, I'm an experimental locomotive for my class," replied the E2, rather awkwardly. "Extended side tanks, you see. I have a greater water capacity than my older brothers."
The Fat Director thought for a moment.
"Where are you from?"
"The London, Brighton and South Coast Railway."
"Interesting, well. For the meantime, you can stay here and we'll sort out this nonsense. But first, I am Sir Topham Hatt. And personally, I think you ought to have a name . . . how about, Thomas?"
"I love it!"
"Very well, Thomas. Please take that train of building supplies to the other end of the line."
Thomas filled up with coal and water first, then coupled up to the train and was on his way.
First, he passed through a one-bore tunnel, then reached a Station where the Works were located. Next, he passed several stations before reaching Maron and climbing a steep hill. At the bottom was another station called Wellsworth. Crosby followed, then the line to Knapford ran along the coast and terminated at the coast by Tidmouth.
There, he saw four engines with vertical boilers.
"Who are they?" he wondered. He chuffed over to them to find out.
Each were numbered from one to four.
No. 1 spoke first, "Hullo, I'm Glynn. We're the 'Coffee Pots'."
"'Coffee Pots'? That's a strange name?"
"Well, we're called that because we look like those things people make coffee out of," explained Glynn.
"Well, I'm Thomas and I'm called that because well, the Fat Director decided."
"Are you a new engine?"
"Well, I guess I am. There was actually some sort of mishap. I was sent here by mistake."
"I see. But I know you'll be useful, considering you can carry much heavier loads than any of us!"
"Well, I'm happy to help out," puffed Thomas, cheerily.
Thomas made friends with the 'Coffee Pots', especially Glynn. He explained how three railways had merged to become the North Western Railway.
"There are plans to extend the line we worked on. Up to a town called Ffarquhar, but probably won't be until after the war and after we finish this Station."
"What's this Station's name?"
That night, Thomas returned to Vicarstown.
The Fat Director was waiting with important news.
"I telephoned your Manager. We agreed to let you stay here until the war is over. You'll return to Brighton after the war."
"Thank you for sorting this out, Sir. But I'll do my best to help finish the railway."
"Thank you Thomas. Now, go off to the Sheds. You deserve a nice, good rest after this long day."
Thomas chuffed off and soon fell fast asleep.
The next day, he worked hard taking supplies to wherever they were needed. He had been used to having bigger engines than him, but this was quite different as he was the strongest and biggest engine.
The Fat Director came to see him again.
"I am bringing in another engine to help out from the Furness Railway. He is bigger, so this means the railway should be completed by Christmas."
Thomas was excited.
Two weeks later, Thomas chuffed into the Works with some new engine parts. On the turntable, he saw an unfamiliar engine, faced away from his direction. His tender, on another track, was being inspected.
The Fat Director was there too. He saw Thomas looking at the unfamiliar engine.
"Ah! Thomas! I'd like you to meet Edward!"
The turntable turned around and there he was.
Thomas was impressed. He was painted red with yellow lining, had two pairs of leading wheels and two pairs of driving wheels all painted a beautiful black.
"He'll be helping out once a couple of modifications are done," added the Fat Director.
"Hullo, I'm Thomas, from Brighton, on the Mainland."
"I'm Edward, from the Furness Railway, built in 1896 by Sharp, Stewart and Co."
Thomas was impressed. "Wow! I was only built a year ago at Brighton Works. What work did you do?"
"I mainly pulled passenger trains, but I could handle goods just as well. As the Fat Director needed another engine for the final stages of his railway. I was brought in to help. The Fat Director said some modifications would do me good and I've heard he's a great engineer, so why not?"
Thomas chatted with Edward for a while before heading back to Vicarstown.
The next week, Edward chuffed out of the works. The Works at Crovan's Gate had made some modifications to his cab windows and splashers.
"You look great Edward!" chuffed Thomas.
"Yes indeed, if I do say so myself," added the Fat Director. "Now, I want you both to help complete the railway construction."
Thomas usually shunted trains at Vicarstown and Edward pulled them to where they were needed.
Thomas soon found that Edward was very wise and extremely kind. Edward often looked after Thomas and the two became great friends.
By December 1915, the line was complete. All the stations were intact as well as bridges, tunnels and track.
"I would also like to give thanks to Edward and Thomas, who have both helped with the construction of this splendid railway," boomed the Fat Director.
Edward became the primary engine for both passengers and goods while Thomas acted as "station pilot" at Vicartown, the main station, headquarters of the North Western Railway and office of the Fat Director.
As the war ended, Thomas remembered something: "When the war is over, I'm due to return to Brighton."
He felt rather sad. He enjoyed working with Edward and being part of the Fat Director's Railway and although he did miss Brighton, he was sad to have to leave Sodor.
But that soon changed . . .
One afternoon, Thomas arrived back at the Shed and saw two girls waiting nearby.
Thomas's crew called out to the girls, "Over in a couple of minutes!"
The girls smiled at his crew and at the little blue tank engine.
As his crew did several of their end of the day jobs, Thomas looked over at the girls. He thought he remembered seeing them.
"They must have gone on a passenger run," thought Thomas.
Soon, his crew finished and headed off towards the car. They all climbed in and sped away, leaving a most confused Thomas.
The next day, they returned to work, but Thomas chose not to ask them about what had happened last afternoon.
Presently, his crew saw the Fat Director and went over to speak to him.
They talked for quite a while until the Fat Director said, "Fine, fine. You get Saturday off and I'll find a 'relief crew."
"Thank you, Sir."
At the end of the day, his crew explained.
"You see, we met some girls a couple months ago and well, we really did fall in love with them. So, we have decided to get married!"
"Marry? You two!"
"Of course and we'll stay on Sodor."
"You idiots! We're supposed to be going back to Brighton soon. I can't go back if you two marry."
"Don't worry. The Fat Director will negotiate with our Controller for us to stay here. Don't tell me you don't like Sodor."
"Well, that I can't deny."
"We'll be out Satuday because the wedding's that day."
"Well, alright then. Good night and good luck with your brides."
Thomas's crew walked away.
Then, Edward steamed in.
"What was all that about?"
Thomas proceeded to tell Edward all about it until the stars were well above the sheds.
It was soon Saturday morning and the fire-lighter came to start the engine's fires.
Thomas felt the warmth spread through his boiler.
A couple hours later, he woke up and saw Edward was still asleep. A "relief" Fireman had arrived and had gotten Thomas ready for work. Then he saw the Fat Director. He had taken off his hat and coat and put on overalls.
"Sir? What are you doing here?" asked Thomas quietly.
"Well, I'll be your Driver today, Thomas," replied the Fat Director.
"Of course. Now let's go shunt Edward's train."
Thomas arranged the coaches onto the platform and waited for Edward.
"Hullo, Thomas! Thank you for arranging the coaches! By the way, have you seen the Fat Director?"
"Right here!" he called from Thomas's cab.
"Oh Sir. What are you doing?"
"Today, I'm Thomas's 'relief' Driver."
Just then, the Guard's whistle blew. Thomas pushed the train to help it start and soon left Edward to go on his way.
"I think you drive me better than my Driver," chuckled Thomas.
Thomas enjoyed his day and saw his crew back again the next day.
"How was the wedding? All happy forever?" teased Thomas.
"Yes, yes. We heard the Fat Director was your Driver."
"Indeed. And he probably did a better job than you!"
"I'm just joking."
"Very well. Let's get back to work."
The next year, Thomas was officially purchased by the Fat Director and officially became the first engine of the North Western Railway. The following year, Edward was officially sold to the Fat Director. And with their purchase, both engines were repainted blue with red stripes and numbered. Thomas became number 1 and Edward 2.
Both engines kept trains running. However, traffic was increasing and Edward could not do it alone, so the Fat Director purchased a green engine named Henry.
Unfortunately, Henry was prone to illness and often unavailable to pull trains, thus, the Fat Director purchased two Great Eastern Railway S69s, who where numbered 98462 and 87546.
In addition, his good friend, Sir Nigel Gresley, Chief Mechanical Engineer of the Great Northern Railway, offered him an experimental engine for his upcoming "A1" Pacifics, classed as an "A0".
The Fat Director agreed and so he bought the "A0" and named him, Gordon.
Thomas was impressed by Gordon; but no so much with 98462 and 87546. They were rude, spiteful, impolite and nasty. They often teased Edward and Thomas for being small and often bossed him around.
"Don't listen to them, Thomas," soothed Edward.
"I wish you could come out again and keep them in order!"
Eventually, the Fat Director had had enough and sent the two S69s back to the Other Railway.
Thomas was glad and was happier to see Edward out and about again. Due to the two engines' despicable behaviour, Edward had been let out again.
Eventually, Edward was given his very own branch line; a line running south from Wellsworth and terminating at the bay by Brendam.
"Oh, you're so lucky! I wish I could go out and have my own branch line too!"
Gordon and Henry loved to tease Thomas about this.
"It never gets old!" chortled Henry.
"But I want to do things and see places! I want to . . ."
". . . see the world!" laughed the two big engines together.
"Huh! I work harder than both of you!" fumed Thomas.
Gordon often worked the Express. Henry usually managed goods, but also helped out with passengers.
Thomas shunted their trains at Vicarstown. And he would take away the empty coaches so that Henry and Gordon could go and rest.
But he still believed he worked harder than them and loved teasing them.
He loved best of all to come quietly up besides them and toot his whistle, making them jump!
"Wake up lazybones!" he would tease.
One day, Gordon arrived back at the station, tired. He left his coaches at the platform and went to a siding to rest. The Express had been late and he had had to go very fast to make up for lost time.
He was just going to sleep when Thomas came up in his cheeky way.
"Wake up lazybones! Do some hard work for a change! You can't catch me!"
And off he ran, laughing.
Instead of going to sleep again, Gordon wondered how he could pay Thomas out.
The next morning, Thomas couldn't wake up. His fire went out and there was not enough steam. The passengers were waiting but the coaches weren't ready.
"You need to hurry up!" whistled Henry. "Gordon is waiting for his coaches!"
At last, Thomas started.
"Oh dear, oh dear," he yawned.
He bumped the coaches hard and started for the station.
"Don't stop dawdling, don't stop dawdling."
"Where have you been? Where have you been?" asked the coaches, crossly.
He fussed into the station where Gordon was waiting.
"Hurry up, you."
"Hurry up yourself."
Gordon hadn't forgiven Thomas for waking him up from his nap.
"Yes. I will!"
Almost before the coaches had stopped moving, Gordon came out of his siding and was coupled to the train.
"Get in quickly please."
So all the passengers got in. The last door banged, the clock stuck the hour, the Guard blew his whistle and waved his green flag and Gordon started off.
Thomas usually pushed behind the trains to help them start, but he was always uncoupled so that when the train was running nicely, he could stop and go back.
This time he was late and they forgot to uncouple Thomas.
"Peep! Peep!" whistled Thomas.
"Poop! Poop!" whistled Gordon.
The train went faster and faster . . . too fast for Thomas! He wanted to stop, but he couldn't!
"Peep! Peep! Stop! Stop!"
"Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!"
"You can't get away! You can't get away!" laughed the coaches.
Poor Thomas was going faster than he had ever gone before. His wheels hurt him, but he had to go on.
"I shall never be the same again," he thought sadly. "My wheels will be quite worn out."
At last, they reached the Works Station where the Express always stopped.
Everyone laughed to see Thomas puffing and panting behind.
They put him onto a turntable and ran him onto a siding, out of the way.
"Well little Thomas! Now you know what hard work means, don't you?" laughed Gordon and he thundered away.
Thomas had no steam to answer. He puffed onto a siding and had a nice, long drink.
Thomas was careful afterwards never to be cheeky to Gordon again.
The next day, Thomas was bringing some coaches into Vicarstown.
Gordon and Henry were nearby talking to each other.
"Huh!" he puffed. "I spend my time pulling coaches about ready for you to take out on journeys. Why can't I pull passenger trains too?"
"You're too impatient," said Gordon and Henry. "You'd be sure to leave something behind."
"Rubbish! I'll show you!"
But he didn't know how.
That night, Thomas was alone with Henry. Henry was ill. The men worked hard, but he didn't get better.
He felt just as bad next morning.
Henry usually pulled the first train in the morning and Thomas had to get his coaches ready.
"What's wrong Henry?" asked Thomas.
"I don't feel well. I might not be able to pull my train today," moaned Henry.
"If Henry is ill. Perhaps I shall pull his train," chuffed Thomas and went away to the Yard.
"Come along! Come along!"
"There's plenty of time. There's plenty of time," grumbled the coaches.
Thomas brought the coaches to the platform and wanted to run 'round in front at once.
But his Driver didn't let him. "Don't be impatient. We'll wait 'till everything is ready."
So Thomas waited and waited. People got in. The Guard and Stationmaster walked up and down. The porters banged the doors and still Henry didn't come.
Thomas got more and more excited every minute.
The Fat Director came out of his office and the Guard and Stationmaster told him about Henry.
"Find another engine!"
"There's only Thomas."
"You'll have to do it then Thomas. Be quick now."
So Thomas ran 'round in front and backed onto the coaches ready to start.
"Wait 'till everything is ready," said his Driver.
What happened next - no one know. Perhaps they forgot to couple Thomas to the train or perhaps Thomas was too impatient to wait or perhaps the Driver pulled the lever by mistake. Anyhow, Thomas started without his coaches!
As he passed the first signal box, men waved and shouted, but he didn't stop.
"They're waving because I'm such a splendid engine," thought Thomas. "Henry says it hard to pull trains, but I think it's easy." And he whistled. "Peep! Peep! Thank you! People have never seen me pulling a train before. It's nice of them to wave. Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!" he chuffed, pretending to be like Gordon.
Presently, he reached a signal at "danger".
"Bother! I must stop and I was going so nicely too. What a nuisance signals are!"
And he blew an angry, "Peep! Peep!" on his whistle.
The Signalman ran up.
"Hullo Thomas. What're you doing here?"
"I'm pulling my very first passenger train. Can't you see?"
"Where are your coaches then?"
"Why bless me?! If we haven't left them behind."
"Yes," said the Signalman. "You'd better go back quickly and fetch them."
Poor Thomas was so sad he nearly cried.
"Cheer up," said his Driver. "Let's go back quickly and try again."
At the Station, all the passengers were talking at once. They were telling the Guard, Stationmaster and the Fat Director was a Bad Railway it was.
"Please! Calm down! Thomas will be back soon!"
Just then, Thomas came in. They saw how sad he was and couldn't be cross.
"I'm very sorry, Sir."
"You must wait 'till everything is ready."
This time, Thomas was coupled to the train and he really pulled it.
When Thomas arrived back at the Yard, Gordon and Henry laughed and said - "There's Thomas, who wanted to pull a train but forgot about the coaches!"
Thomas was upset and said nothing the rest of the day.
The next night, Edward came to the Sheds. He had heard the story of Thomas's train and felt sorry for him.
Gordon and Henry, were still teasing him.
"Of course!" laughed Henry. "Of course he'd leave something behind!"
"You can't pull trains without coaches, little Thomas!" chortled Gordon.
Thomas sighed sadly. "The Fat Director will never let pull trains again. But I want to do things and go place I want to . . ."
" . . . see the world!" thundered Henry and Gordon and they laughed until they felt their wheels might come off.
"That's enough," said Edward, sternly. "Honestly, it was just a mistake. I'm sure he's learned his lesson."
Gordon and Henry chuckled and then went to sleep.
Edward spoke to Thomas.
"If you really want to go out, why don't you take some trucks to Wellsworth? I can take over in the Yard if you'd like."
"Thank you. That will be nice."
"Alright then. But now, let's get some sleep."
And the wise K2 and cheeky E2 went to sleep.
Next morning, they told their Drivers and they agreed to the change.
Edward and Thomas went off to the Yard.
"Which trucks are they Edward?" asked Thomas, excitedly. "Is it those? Or these?"
"These," replied Edward. "But I need to tell you something . . ."
" . . . I know, I know. I have to be coupled up! You don't have to remind me."
"Trucks can be very troublesome. They can run you off the rails if you're not careful."
"Don't be silly, Edward. You worry too much."
Edward was worried and nervously watched as the signal went green and Thomas left the Yard.
"Come on, don't fuss. Come on, don't fuss," puffed Thomas to the trucks.
"All right, all right," grumbled the reluctant trucks.
"Peep! Peep!" whistled Thomas as they whooshed through Henry's Tunnel.
Thomas was pleased, but the trucks grew crosser and crosser.
They rumbled over the Viaduct and slowed down as they reached the bottom of Gordon's Hill.
It was very hard work, but at last, Thomas reached the top.
"We're stopping! We're stopping!" called Thomas.
"No! No! No! No!" replied the trucks, and bumping their buffers, they pushed Thomas down the hill!
Poor Thomas tried to make him stop from going too fast.
"Stop pushing! Stop pushing!" he hissed.
But the trucks took no notice, "On! On! On! On!" urged the trucks.
Suddenly, in front, Thomas saw the place where they had to stop.
"Oh dear! What shall I do?!"
Luckily the line was clear as they swerved through the goods yard.
"I must stop!" cried Thomas and closed his eyes.
When he opened his eyes, he saw he had stopped just in front of the buffers and there was - the Fat Director!
"What are you doing here, Thomas?"
"I've brought Edward's trucks, Sir."
"Why did you come in so fast?"
"I didn't mean to. I was pushed!"
"Haven't you pulled trucks before?"
"Trucks are silly things and must be kept into their place. After pushing them about here for a few weeks, you'll know almost as much about them as Edward. Then you'll be a Really Useful Engine."
Thomas sadly shunted his trucks into place and returned to Vicarstown.
That evening, the Fat Director spoke to both Thomas and Edward.
"Edward, I am quite disappointed in you for giving your job to Thomas. I understand you wanted to help him, but it could've caused an accident."
"I am sorry, Sir," replied Edward.
"I know both of you are. However," the Fat Director continued, "I do know the vast experience you have with both coaches and trucks Edward. So, I am sending Thomas here to your Yard to help out for a time. I expect you both to be Really Useful."
Then the Fat Director drove away.
"I am sorry Edward," sighed Thomas.
"Its all right," replied Edward kindly. "At least we're working together again. And soon, you'll know as much about trucks as I do!"
Thomas worked hard over the next few weeks. He organised the Yard and helped engines up the Hill.
One day, Edward was in the Yard when Thomas saw some strange looking trucks.
"Huh? Where are they meant to be going?" wondered Thomas.
He chuffed over to them.
"Wake up, lazybones!" he whistled.
The strange looking trucks woke up!
Thomas was alarmed! He hadn't meant to give the them such as state of shock!
"Is there an accident?"
"Is an engine off the rails?"
"Sorry. I just want to know where you're going."
Edward chuffed over.
"All right. Everyone calm down. Judy, Jerome, this is Thomas, a tank engine working here. There's no accident, so you can go back to sleep."
"Ah!" sighed the cranes and snored back to sleep.
"What was that?" asked Thomas.
"That's the breakdown train, Jerome and Judy," explained Edward.
"Why are they in the Yard if they're not meant to be shunted? Do they ever go anywhere?"
"Only in an emergency. When there's an accident. Workmen hop into the coach to clear and mend the line. Jerome and Judy are used to lift heavy things like engines, coaches or trucks."
"All right. I won't bother them again! Although they snore pretty loudly!" chuckled Thomas.
Thomas fetched Edward's trucks and the blue engine steamed away. Thomas went back to sort out the coaches in the Yard.
Majority of the coaches were red coaches, although Express coaches were also around.
Thomas had just moved some red coaches out of the way when he saw a buffer-beam sticking out from the shadows.
He coupled up to them and he pulled two orange coaches who were most surprised.
"Where are you taking us?!" they fumed indignantly.
"I'm terribly sorry your Ladyships. I was just sorting the Yard and I wondered who you were?"
"Well, I'm Annie and she is Clarabel," said the composite coach.
"I'm Thomas. You two look like you've been there for a while."
"Indeed," said Clarabel. "We were brought to help with Edward's branch line, but we've been replaced by more modern rolling stock."
"Oh dear. But you don't look so clucked out."
"Indeed," agreed Annie. "We only need a bit of re-fitting, but, oh well."
Annie and Clarabel watched as Thomas shunted the Yard.
"Very nice shunting," they complimented.
"Thank you," replied Thomas politely. "I'll leave you two outside, so we can talk more!"
"Thank you Thomas," replied the two coaches.
Thomas left both Annie and Clarabel very impressed.
"What a cheeky, funny little engine," said Clarabel.
"He'll go far, Clarabel. Just you wait and see," finished Annie.
Thomas worked hard in the Yard. He now knew he wasn't as clever as he had thought. Besides, the Fat Director had been kind to him and he want to learn all about trucks and coaches so as to be a Really Useful Engine.
He now knew about Jerome and Judy and was coping in the Yard very well.
"You're a very good shunter," commented Annie.
"Thank you," replied Thomas.
Then Edward chuffed in. He smiled.
"You're almost as good as I am!"
But then Thomas accidentally bumped into some trucks!
"I meant to do that!"
The two engines and coaches had a laugh.
The next day, the Fat Director came as usual to say "Hullo!" to Thomas.
"Don't let the silly trucks tease you."
Then he boarded his train towards Vicarstown.
Later, Thomas was shunting the brake van for Edward's train when he bustled up.
"Hullo Thomas. Thank you for shunting my train."
"I don't know if the Fat Director told you, but today, a new engine is arriving. His name is James and he's from the Lanchasire and Yorkshire Railway, now the London, Midland and Scottish Railway of course. If you see him, do greet him."
"Very well. I'll be off then."
Edward chuffed away.
Thomas then started to organise the Yard. There were plenty of trucks to keep in order.
"Come on! Get moving."
"We don't want to!" pouted the trucks.
"We were just awaking!" cried another lot.
Thomas laughed and moved the trucks to their proper sidings.
After a great deal of shunting, he heard a whistle.
"Help! Help! They're pushing me! They're pushing me!"
Then he saw a goods train coming much too fast! The engine was James, the new engine. His brake blocks were on fire! Sparks streamed out on each side!
"On! On! On! On!" laughed the trucks.
Still whistling, "Help! Help!" Poor James disappeared under a bridge.
"I'd like to teach those trucks a lesson," said Thomas the Tank Engine.
Presently, the alarm rang.
The Signalman shouted, "James is off the line! The Breakdown Train! Quickly!"
Thomas raced over to Jerome and Judy and blew his whistle loudly!
"Wake up! Wake up! There's an emergency!"
"What's the accident?" asked Jerome.
"James is off the line. We have to go and rescue him!" cried Thomas.
"Right," huffed Judy.
The men jumped aboard the coach, Thomas was coupled on and off they went.
"Go Thomas!" called Annie and Clarabel.
"Hurry, hurry, hurry," huffed Thomas. This time, he wasn't pretending to be like Gordon, he really meant it. "Bother those trucks and their tricks. I hope poor James isn't hurt."
They found James at a bend in the line. He had crashed through and fence and into a cow field. The cows were surprised to see the big black engine.
The last few trucks and the brake van were on the rails, but the front one were in a heap, alongside his tender, which was severely damaged.
James's Driver and Fireman were feeling him all over to see if he was hurt.
"Never mind James," they said. "It was your old wooden brakes that caused the accident. We always said they were no good."
Thomas shunted Jerome and Judy alongside and then cleared away the unhurt trucks. When workmen re-railed more trucks, Thomas took those away too.
He was busy puffing backwards and forwards all the afternoon.
"This will teach you a lesson. This will teach you a lesson."
And they answered, "Yes it will. Yes it will," in a sad, groany, creaky sort of voice.
They left the broken trucks, then Jerome and Judy began to lift James back onto the tracks.
Thomas watched with interest.
"Oh dear! Be careful!" cried James.
"Don't worry," replied Jerome.
"We've got you," added Judy.
They lifted James safely back onto the rails.
"Oh! I can't move," groaned James.
"Don't worry. I'll help you back to the Yard," said Thomas, kindly.
Along the way, James spoke up.
"Thank you for rescuing me."
"The trucks pushed me down the hill and my wooden brakes were no good, obviously."
"I'm Thomas, by the way."
"And I'm James."
"I know. I heard it was your first day!"
"Indeed. I hope the Fat Director isn't cross."
"Of course not. I wasn't your fault."
They soon arrived back at Wellsworth. The Fat Director was waiting anxiously for them.
"Well Thomas, I've heard all about it and I'm very please with you. You're a Really Useful Engine. James, you shall have some proper brakes and a new coat of paint and Thomas - you shall have a branch line all to yourself."
"Oh thank you, Sir!" cried Thomas.
Next, Thomas helped James to the Works.
"Thank you, Thomas! Congratulations on your branch line!"
"Thank you. I'll see you in a while. Get better!"
Thomas steamed off to Vicarstown where Edward, Gordon and Henry were waiting.
Everyone clapped and cheered as he steamed in.
"Very well done Thomas. Today, you were Really Useful," said Edward.
"What you did was terrific!" Henry chimed in.
Even Gordon was impressed.
"Nice job, Thomas. We are all proud of you."
"And that's not all," added Thomas. "The Fat Director is giving me my own branch line!"
Everyone cheered again.
The next day, the Fat Director came to see Thomas.
"I know you are excited about your branch line."
"I am giving you the line that runs north from Knapford up to Ffarquhar. It is an extension of the old Tidmouth, Knapford and Elsbridge Railway. There is also a quarry extension planned. My old 'Coffee Pot' engines worked there, but all except one have been scrapped as they are inadequate to run the line. That's why I need you."
"I will also give you your own coaches."
Then Thomas remembered Annie and Clarabel.
"Sir! I know two coaches in Edward's Yard that I'd like to be my coaches."
"You do? Bring them to the Works right away!"
Thomas soon went to fetch Annie and Clarabel.
"Thomas!" they cried.
"Annie! Clarabel! The Fat Director has given me my own branch line!"
"Yes, we heard," said Annie.
"We'll miss you," added Clarabel sadly.
"No you won't! You two will be my coaches! I'm to take you to the Works to be restored."
Soon, Annie and Clarabel were restored.
Then, Thomas set off to Knapford for the official opening of his branch line.
As he passed Wellsworth, he saw Edward who said, "Off to see the world now, Thomas?"
"Yes Edward! I am!"
Thomas steamed into Knapford with a round of cheers and applause.
Everyone boarded the train and soon the Guard blew his whistle and waved his green flag.
Thomas steamed along the tracks, smiling.
"It's great to have my own branch line. But even better to be able to run it with you two," said Thomas.
"Oh, we're glad to be with you too," replied Annie and Clarabel.
The three friends smiled as they approached Ffarquhar, the Top Station of the line. There were even more people cheering.
Then, Thomas looked over and in a siding hidden by bushes was Glynn.
"Hullo Glynn. I've been given the branch line."
"Yes indeed," smiled Glynn. "Look after the branch line Thomas and wear the number one with pride."
"Don't worry. I will!"
Glynn smiled and thought, "Of course he will."
Now Thomas puffs proudly backwards and forwards on his branch line with his two coaches, Annie and Clarabel.
He is never lonely as he often meets Edward and Henry at the Junction.
Gordon is always in a hurry and does not stop, but never forgets to whistle "Poop! Poop!"
And Thomas always whistles, "Peep! Peep!" in return.
Thomas worked hard on his branch line and he took great responsibility too. With his hard work, the extension up to Anopha Quarry was finished in 1925.
Thomas was proud, "I think we have the best part of the whole railway!"
That same year came some big changes.
The North Western Railway came with an agreement with the London, Midland and Scottish Railway to allow trains to run to Barrow-in-Furness. Thus, the main station and headquarters were relocated to the other end of the line at Tidmouth.
In addition, the Fat Director, who understood his friends' ways, became now, the Fat Controller.
With the extension finished, Thomas assumed duties of going up the quarry and bringing trucks of stones for the Main Line engines to take to the Harbour and other places.
"My branch line has got everything," Thomas chuffed to Annie and Clarabel one day. "Some great stations, a quarry, farms, not to mention the Windmill and of course our shed!"
But life on Thomas's branch line was far from dull and Thomas was often heard to remark, "They'll never see anything like it."
Indeed, the line was popular amongst tourists and as the amount of tourists increased, the busier Thomas was.
Thomas usually waited at the Junction for the train from the Main Line. This was usually pulled by Henry. However, Thomas soon found that he and his passengers were kept waiting until Henry and his train came in.
Thomas began to get cross.
One day, Thomas steamed in on time.
"Bother! Not again! Doesn't Henry realise the Fat Controller depends on me," he fumed.
Annie and Clarabel agreed.
Thomas wanted to leave but he couldn't he had to wait for Henry's train.
At last, Henry steamed in.
"Where have you been lazybones?" asked Thomas crossly.
"Oh dear, my system is out of order. No one understands my case. You don't know what I suffer," moaned Henry.
"Huh! You're too fat! You need exercise!"
People from Henry's train exchanged trains and soon the Guard was ready with his whistle and flag.
The Guard blew his whistle, turned around to his van, tripped over an old lady's umbrellas and fell flat on his face!
When he picked himself up, Thomas was away with Annie and Clarabel.
"Come along! Come along!" chuffed Thomas.
But Clarabel didn't want to come.
"I've lost my nice Guard! I've lost my nice Guard!" she sobbed.
Annie tried to tell Thomas what had happened.
"We haven't a Guard! We haven't a Guard!"
But Thomas was hurrying and wouldn't listen.
Annie and Clarabel tried to put on their brakes but they couldn't without the Guard.
"Where is our Guard? Where is our Guard?"
They didn't stop until they came to a signal.
"Bother! What's the matter?"
"I don't know," replied the Driver. "The Guard will tell us in a minute."
They waited and waited but the Guard didn't come.
"Peep! Peep! Where is the Guard?"
"We've left him behind!" sobbed Annie and Clarabel together.
Thomas frowned, but just then, everybody looked back and there the Guard was running along the line as fast as he could with his flags in one hand and his whistle in the other. He was very hot so he had a drink and then told them all about it.
"I'm very sorry Mr. Guard," apologised Thomas.
"Never mind. It wasn't your fault; it was the old lady's umbrella," replied the Guard. "Look," he said, "the signal is down. Let's make up for lost time."
"Right you are!"
Annie and Clarabel were so pleased to have their Guard again that they sang, "As fast as you like! As fast as you like!"
And they reached Ffarquhar quicker than ever before.
The next day, Thomas puffed into Knapford right on time.
He sizzled with impatience until Henry puffed in again.
Before Thomas could speak, Henry began.
"So what's the latest from your line?"
"Well, I had a busy day yesterday. Lots to do here."
"OK. But I think we both know the highlight of your day."
"Of course. I saw it all happen."
"It's your fault! You made me late!"
"Hey! I'm not to blame for your impatience."
Thomas seethed crossly.
Just then the Guard's whistle blew.
"Hold a moment!" called Henry as the Guard jumped into Clarabel. "Now you can go."
"Thank you very much," replied Thomas sarcastically.
"You're very welcome."
Soon Thomas was chuffing up the line, making good time, but he was still cross at Henry.
"That silly big engine. How dare he make me late and then tease me about it!"
"Well, that's how big engines are, I'm afraid," said Annie.
"I know. I thought I'd gain their respect after I earned this line. Now its 1923 all over again."
Annie and Clarabel hated to see Thomas upset.
They soon reached Elsbridge, where Thomas generally took on water.
As the Driver and Fireman worked to refill Thomas's tank, passengers climbed in and out of Annie and Clarabel.
Soon it was time to go.
The line crosses a river. Often when Thomas passed, there were people fishing. Thomas always looked forward to the sight of the river.
"Hey Thomas! What's that up ahead?" asked Clarabel.
"The river of course!" smiled Thomas.
He did feel better at the sight of the river. He rumbled over the bridge and saw people standing by their lines. Other times though, he would see them jerking fish out of the water.
On the return journey, he passed by again.
"How I would love to stay and watch," he sighed.
But his Driver said, "No! What would the Fat Controller say if we were late?"
He soon reached Knapford and his passengers disembarked.
Presently, he saw James with a goods train.
"Hullo Thomas. How is everything going?"
"Well James, I'm proud to run my branch line. Especially because of all the great sights there are."
"Yes. My favourite would have to be the river. Lots of people fish there every day. I would love to fish!"
James laughed. "Don't be silly! Engines don't go fishing!"
Then, James puffed off.
"Silly stick-in-the-mud. I'll show you!"
Thomas puffed away to rest.
A couple days later, he reached Elsbridge as usual. His Driver and Fireman climbed out of the cab to refill Thomas's tank.
The Fireman swung the hose into Thomas's filler cap and the Driver turned the tap. But the water column was out of order and no water came.
"Botheration! I'm thirsty!"
"Your water level is low," inspected the Fireman.
"Don't worry," said the Driver. "We'll get some water from the river."
So he fetched a bucket and some rope and went to the river.
The bucket was old and had five holes. So they had to fill it up and empty it into Thomas's tank several times over.
"There's a hole in my bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza," sang the Fireman.
"Never mind your Liza!" exclaimed the Driver. "You empty the bucket before you spill it all over me!"
It was hard work but at least they finished.
"That feels much better," sighed Thomas.
Soon they were on their way again. But as they passed through the tunnel, Thomas began to feel a pain in his boiler. Steam hissed in an alarming way.
"There's too much steam!" cried the Fireman.
"Oh dear! I'm going to burst! I'm going to burst!" exclaimed Thomas.
They damped down his fire and struggled on.
Outside Ffarquhar, they uncoupled Annie and Clarabel and ran Thomas, who was still hissing fit to burst onto a siding out of the way.
While the Fireman telephoned for an Engine Inspector, the Driver found signs that read in large letters, "DANGER KEEP AWAY."
Soon the Inspector and the Fat Controller arrived.
"Cheer up Thomas, we'll soon put you right."
The Driver told them what had happened.
"So the feed pipe is blocked," said the Inspector. "I'll just look in the tank."
He climbed up, peered in and came back down again.
"Excuse me Sir. Can you climb up and tell me what you see?"
The Fat Controller climbed up, peered in and almost fell off in surprise!
"Inspector?" he whispered. "Can you see fish?"
Thomas, his Driver and Fireman were most surprised.
"Goodness gracious me. How did the fish get there Driver?" asked the Fat Controller.
The Driver scratched his head. "We must have fished them with our bucket."
"So Thomas. You and your Driver have been fishing. But fish don't suit you and we must get them out."
So Thomas's Driver and Fireman took in turns fishing in Thomas's tank while the Fat Controller told them how to do it.
When at last they had caught all the fish, they had a lovely picnic supper of fish and chips.
"Hmm, that was good," said the Fat Controller as he finished his share. "But fish don't suit you Thomas, so you musn't do it again."
"No Sir, I won't," said Thomas sadly. "Engines don't go fishing, it's too uncomfortable."
At the end of the day, Thomas was exhausted.
"Bother fish," he grumbled. "And bother those silly big engines. They've been laughing at me all day!"
"Just get a good nights sleep," advised his Driver.
"I will. See you in the morning."
Then, his crew departed.
That night, Thomas began to worry.
"The Fat Controller may have left me off this time, but what if he takes away my branch line? That would be dreadful."
Thomas worried that he wouldn't be useful enough for his branch line.
"I've got to do my best to keep my branch line," he concluded.
The months past and it was soon Winter.
"Brrr. Its been cold recently," shivered the Driver as he arrived for work one morning.
"Well I've got a nice, toasty firebox," bragged Thomas.
"Yeah. Let's get going. Our passengers are waiting."
His Driver pulled the lever and Thomas chuffed over to the Station.
Reaching the Terminus, he ran round his train, ready for the return journey.
The Stationmaster came up.
"I hear there's snow along the way."
"Oh no," groaned Thomas. "If it does, I'll have to wear my big, heavy, awkward, uncomfortable snowplough."
"For logical reasons, Thomas," replied the Fireman. "We don't want to get stranded in the snow. What would the Fat Controller say?"
Thomas subsided at this thought, but he wasn't keen on wearing his snowplough.
As he made his way up the line, he stopped at a red signal and saw a tractor ploughing in a field nearby.
"Hullo," whistled Thomas, "who are you?"
"I'm Terence. I'm ploughing."
"I'm Thomas." The No. 1 looked at Terence's caterpillars. "Huh! What ugly wheels you've got."
"They're not ugly. They're caterpillars, I can go anywhere. I don't need rails."
Just then, the signal changed green.
"I don't want to go anywhere. I like my rails, thank you."
When he reached the next station, Annie and Clarabel spoke to Thomas.
"Why were you rude to Terence?" they asked.
"I'm sorry. But I'm at bit upset right now."
"That doesn't make it right," said Annie.
"Besides," continued Thomas, "rails are much better than caterpillars any day."
The next day, Thomas was waiting at Knapford to depart. As he waited, snow fell lightly from the sky.
It was the same as Thomas left the station.
The Driver observed the snow. "I don't like it. A heavy fall is coming. I hope it doesn't stop us."
"Huh!" exclaimed Thomas as he saw the snow melt besides the rails. "It's silly soft stuff and it won't stop me."
He continued cold, but confident.
By the time they reached Ffarquhar the country was covered.
"You'll need you snowplough for the next journey Thomas."
"Snow is silly. It won't stop me."
"Listen to me," said his Driver sternly. "We are going to fit on your snowplough so I want no nonsense."
The snowplough was uncomfortable and made Thomas cross. He shook it and he banged it and when they got back, it was so damaged that the Driver had to take it off.
"You're a very naughty engine," he said as he shut the shed door.
Both Driver and Fireman came in early to mend the snowplough, but they couldn't make it fit.
Thomas was delighted. "I shan't have to wear it. I shan't have to wear it."
"I hope it's all right. I hope it's all right," Annie and Clarabel twittered anxiously.
The Driver was worried too. "It's not deep here," he said to the Fireman, "but it's sure to be deep in the valley."
"Snow is silly and soft. I didn't need that stupid old thing yesterday and I shan't today. Snow can't stop me."
He rushed into Hackenbeck Tunnel thinking how clever he was but there was trouble ahead.
Some snow had fallen from the cutting.
"Pooh!" scoffed Thomas. He charged it! . . . And found himself stuck!
"Back! Thomas! Back!" called the Driver.
Thomas tried but his wheels spun and he couldn't move. Then, more snow came down from the cutting until Thomas was nearly buried.
The Guard went back for help whilst both crew and passengers tried to dig the snow away. But as fast they dug more snow slipped down.
"Oh my wheels and coupling rods! I shall have to stay here 'till I'm frozen," cried Thomas.
Soon, a tooting in the distance told them a bus had come for the passengers. Then, through the Tunnel came Terence.
First, he took away Annie and Clarabel and then came back for Thomas. His wheels were clear but still spun when he tried to move.
His Driver and Fireman attached strong cables between Thomas and Terence.
"Ready?" called Terence.
"Yes," replied Thomas.
Terence tugged and heaved and finally, hauled Thomas out of the snow, ready for the journey home.
"Thank you Terence. I was wrong. Your caterpillars are splendid."
"No problem Thomas. I was glad to help you out of the snow," replied Terence.
"I hope you'll be sensible now," said the Driver.
And then he puffed slowly home.
That night, he had a visit from the Fat Controller.
"Thomas. I've heard all about your accident in the snow. Now, I know you want to do a good job and for the most part, you have. But don't get overconfident. Right now, James is doing a splendid job in the Yard."
"But please Sir! I can be Really Useful."
"That's why I gave you this line Thomas. I know you're Really Useful. Now tomorrow, you must wear your snowplough and always wear it when it snows."
So Thomas listened to the Fat Controller and didn't have any problems with snow for the rest of Winter.
Soon it was Spring and the snow had gone. Thomas was back to doing his regular duties.
One day, he went up to the Quarry.
As he arrived, he saw a bus leaving the Yard.
"He brings workers to the Quarry, I think," said the Fireman.
"I don't see why he needs to do that when I could that myself."
"Well, we've got trucks to collect."
They collected the trucks and headed back down the Quarry line.
Thomas whistled cheerfully to the Constable as he passed him. Soon, he reached Ffarquhar.
"Time for another train," he thought.
Quite soon, he reached Knapford.
"Here are your passengers, Henry."
"Thanks Thomas," replied Henry and he set off slowly.
Later when he returned, he saw a red bus pull up besides him.
"Hullo. Who are you?"
"I'm Bertie. Who are you?"
"I'm Thomas. I run this branch line."
"Ah! So you're Thomas, eh? I remember now. You got stuck in the snow. I took your passengers and Terence the Tractor pulled you out. I've come to help with your passengers today."
"Help me?" puffed Thomas crossly. "I can manage, thank you. I'm much faster than you."
"No you're not."
"I'll race you!" challenged Bertie.
Drivers agreed to the race up ahead.
"First one to Ffarquhar wins," announced the Stationmaster. "Are you ready? Go!"
Thomas never could go fast at first and Bertie drew up front.
"Why don't you go fast? Why don't you go fast?" asked Annie and Clarabel.
"Wait and see. Wait and see," hissed Thomas.
"He's a long way ahead," they wailed.
Thomas didn't care. He remembered the level crossing.
"This'll teach 'em a thing or two. Trains must always have priority here."
Bertie fumed at the level crossing while Thomas, Annie and Clarabel sailed gaily through.
"Bye, bye, Bertie!"
After that, the road left the railway so they couldn't see Bertie.
Thomas had to stop at a station.
"Get in quickly please!"
Thomas set off again, but then he saw Bertie tooting triumphantly on his horn.
"Oh! Deary me! Oh! Deary me!"
"Don't worry," said his Driver. "We'll beat Bertie yet."
"We'll beat Bertie yet. We'll beat Bertie yet," echoed Annie and Clarabel.
"Oh, bother, there's a station."
Then, he heard Bertie.
"You looked tired Thomas. Sorry I can't stop. We buses have to work you know."
They reached the next station quickly, but the signal was up.
"Oh dear. We've lost."
But he felt better after a drink. The signal dropped and Thomas was off.
Bertie was waiting at a traffic light. Thomas had not yet crossed the bridge when Bertie shot off.
Thomas now reached his full speed. He crept up slowly and eventually drew alongside.
Excited passengers exchanged cheers across trains.
Then, whistling triumphantly, Thomas plunged into the tunnel leaving Bertie toiling far behind.
"We've won! We've won!" tooted Thomas in the tunnel.
"We've done it, hurray! We've done it, hurray!" cheered Annie and Clarabel as they whooshed into the last station!
Everyone was there to celebrate Thomas's victory, but they gave Bertie a big welcome too.
"That was fun," said Bertie. "But to beat you over that hill, I'd should have to grow wings and be an aeroplane."
Later that day, the Fat Controller arrived.
"Uh oh," thought Thomas.
"I can't say I'm exactly pleased at you running at full speed along the line. But, you did make a new friend. Which is why I'm going to have you work with Bertie more often. However, no more racing as it can be dangerous."
"Thank you Sir!"
Thomas and Bertie now keep each other very busy. Bertie finds people in the village who want to travel by train and takes them to Thomas.
They often talk about their big race, but Bertie's passengers don't like being bounced like peas in a frying pan and the Fat Controller has warned Thomas about what happens to engines who race at dangerous speeds.
So although (between you and me) they would like to have another race. I don't think they ever will.
In 1914, a new tank engine is built at Brighton, in England.
He has six small wheels, a short stumpy funnel, a short stumpy boiler and a short, stumpy dome.
He's cheeky and very eager to work . . .
Thomas - Wake up lazybones! Why don't you work hard like me?
Gordon - The indignity!
And has high hopes.
Thomas - Why can't I pull passenger trains too?
Gordon and Henry - You're too impatient.
Thomas - Rubbish! I'll show you!
But runs into trouble along the way . . .
Thomas - We're stopping! We're stopping!
Troublesome Trucks - No! No! No! No!
Sir Topham Hatt - You've got a lot to learn about trucks, little Thomas.
However, he soon gets the chance to be Really Useful.
James - They're pushing me! They're pushing me!
Thomas - I'd like to teach those trucks a lesson.
Jerome - Don't worry.
Judy - We've got you.
Sir Topham Hatt - Thomas, I've heard all about it and I'm very please with you. You're a Really Useful Engine . . . you shall have a branch line all to yourself.
Edward and Henry - Congradulations!
So Thomas takes charge of the branch.
Thomas - They'll never see anything like it.
And has several adventures.
Thomas - I don't want to go anywhere. I like my rails, thank you.
Bertie - You're Thomas, eh? I remember, you got stuck in the snow and Terence the Tractor pulled you out.
Thomas - I can go faster than you!
Bertie - You can't! . . . I'll race you!
So see Thomas in his early days in Thomas, the Really Useful Engine.
Coming January 16th, 2017.
Bertie - That was fun!
In 2017, see Thomas arrive on Sodor . . .
Thomas - Are we supposed to be here?
Thomas' Driver - I don't know.
Sir Topham Hatt - Some mix-up then. How about I name you, Thomas.
Thomas - I love it!
And see him as he wants to . . .
Gordon and Henry - . . . see the world!
James - They're pushing me! They're pushing me!
See as he gets to run his branch line . . .
Edward - Off to see the world now, Thomas?
Thomas - Yes Edward! I am!
. . . and meet new friends.
Bertie - So you're Thomas, eh?
Terence - They're not ugly, they're caterpillars.
And how he proves that he a Really Useful Engine.
Annie and Clarabel - Hurray! We've won!
Sir Topham Hatt - You are a Really Useful Engine.
Find out in Thomas, the Really Useful Engine.
Coming in 2017.
- Annie and Clarabel
- Jerome and Judy
- Sir Topham Hatt
- Coffee Pots No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 (do not speak)
- 98462 and 87546 (do not speak)
- L. B. Billinton (does not speak)
- Sir Nigel Gresley (mentioned)
- This short will include events from the Railway Series books, Thomas the Tank Engine and Tank Engine Thomas Again by the Rev. W. Awdry. It will also use elements from the 2015 Thomas & Friends special, The Adventure Begins, written by Andrew Brenner.
- The short was announced on the 1st of August, 2016 and a teaser was revealed. The short's trailer was later released along with Thomas and the Avalanche.
- Following the release, a scene from James and the Fat Controller was released.