Railway Series Book No. 2: Thomas the Tank Engine

From TrainSpottingWorld, for Rail fans everywhere

Thomas the Tank Engine is the second book in The Railway Series of children's books by the Rev. W. Awdry. This is the book that introduces us to Thomas and his coaches, Annie and Clarabel (although they are not named in this book).

Thomas the Tank Engine

Thomas and Gordon

Thomas, a little blue tank engine, likes being cheeky to the big engines, especially Gordon. One day, Thomas is so cheeky that Gordon starts to think of a way to pay him out. Next morning, Thomas is having trouble starting. He is very tired. He is late getting Gordon's express to the station. After the passengers get in, Gordon starts off so quickly that Thomas is not un-coupled. Thomas goes at a speed of which he is not used to. He wants to stop, but he can't. At the next station, Gordon tells Thomas that he should learn what hard work means. Thomas is uncoupled, has a drink, and goes home, promising never to be cheeky to Gordon again.

Thomas' Train

Thomas has been grumbling about how he never gets important work to do, and wants to pull the express. The other engines take no notice, and say that Thomas would be sure to forget something. That night, Henry becomes ill. The next morning, he's still not better. Thomas has to go and collect Henry's train. He thinks that this might be his chance to pull the express. The Fat Director learns that Henry cannot pull the train, and tells Thomas to do it. However, Thomas leaves before he is coupled to the train. As he goes along the line, people are waving and shouting. Thomas thinks it is because they are happy to see him. He is soon stopped by a signal, and a signalman comes out to tell Thomas that he forgot his train. Thomas is shocked and quickly goes back to the station where he is coupled up to his train and pulls it as originally planned. But for quite a while afterwards, he is teased about the incident by the other engines.

Thomas and the Trucks

Thomas is once again complaining about how boring shunting is. One night, Edward tells Thomas that he will shunt for Thomas, if Thomas pulls his trucks. Thomas is excited. Their Drivers and Firemen agree. Thomas does not know how to manage trucks, and does not know that they will play tricks on engines who aren't used to them. As they go down Gordon's Hill, the trucks start pushing Thomas along the line. He tries to make them stop, but they don't. He soon rushes into the Goods Yard, and is stopped by a set of buffers. The Fat Director sees the whole incident, and tells Thomas that he needs to shunt trucks in the yard for a while, until he knows mroe about them.

Thomas and the Breakdown Train

Thomas has spent some time shunting trucks, and now knows a lot about them. On a siding, there is a set of trucks that Thomas is not allowed to touch. His Driver calls it the Breakdown Train. One day, a new engine named James is pulling some trucks, and they start pushing him. He tries to put his brakes on, but they are old and made of wood and catch fire. A few minutes later, Thomas is told to get the Breakdown Train. The trucks have pushed James off the line and into a cow's field. Thomas soon comes with the Breakdown Train, and clears up the un-hurt trucks. Then, he comes back for James. As he can't move by himself, Thomas helps James back to the station. The Fat Director is waiting there and tells Thomas that he is a Really Useful Engine. He then gives Thomas two coaches called Annie and Clarabel and a Branch Line all to himself. He gives James a new coat of red paint with black stripes and some new brakes. Thomas is very happy with his branch line and is often told news of the Main Line by Edward and Henry.

New Characters

  • Thomas
  • James
  • The Breakdown Train


  • When James first appears, he has a coat of black paint with red stripes. After this story, his paint is always red with black stripes.
  • Reginald Payne illustrated the first edition of this book, but he coould not be traced after the war. C. Reginald Dalby illustrated subsequent releases.
  • First time an engine is seen with a number.
  • First time that Henry is seen with a full coat of blue with red stripes (the last picture of The Three Railway Engines shows him having half green with red stripes and half blue with red stripes).
  • First Railway Series book to have a Forward.

The world of Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends
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Book series: The Railway Series
TV Series: Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends
Series particulars
List of Railway Series Books
TV Series Seasons:

Movie and spin-off releases: Thomas and the Magic RailroadCalling All EnginesOn Site with ThomasThe Great DiscoveryHero of the RailsMisty Island RescueDay of the DieselsBlue Mountain MysteryKing of the Railway

ThomasEdwardHenryGordonJamesPercyTobyDuckDonald and DouglasEmily
The Fat ControllerBertieTerenceTrevorHarold

The Railway Series: Major CharactersMinor CharactersUnfeatured Characters
TV Series: Major characters Narrow gauge enginesRolling StockNon-rail vehiclesPeople & animals
Movies: Movie-only characters

Island of Sodor
Railways: North WesternSkarloeyArlesdaleCuldee FellMid SodorSodor & Mainland"Other"

Other locations - The Railway SeriesTV Series

Significant people and organisations
Rev. W.V. Awdry (series creator)Christopher Awdry
The Britt Allcroft CompanyGullane EntertainmentHIT Entertainment
Other relevant pages
Thomas and Friends Portal
The Railway Stories (audiobooks)Thomas and Friends video releasesShining Time Station
Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends merchandise
TUGS (redirects to TUGS at Ship Spotting World)
Thomas & Friends fan fiction

Fan Fiction Character Glossary

Fan Fiction Series

Last of the Railroads • The Sodor Engines • Thomas and Friends: The New Life • Thomas and his chums • Thomas the Trackmaster Adventures • Thomas the Wooden Engine

Human Series

Garcia And Friends • Human Thomas and Friends

Merchandise Ideas

Wooden Railway • Trackmaster • Railway Series Books • Thomas Story Time • DVDs • DVD Gift Sets • CDs • Video Games • Take-n-Play • Voice Cast • Episodes • Bachmann • Hornby • Movies/Specials


Saving Sodor • The Railway Odysseys • The Scientist • Sodor Academy • If Thomas were...