A Really Useful Idea is a magazine story.
One stormy morning, Thomas is late getting to the last station on his branch line. The waiting passengers are cold and cross. Thomas apologises and explains that a wall had blown over resulting in some sheep straying onto the line. The stationmaster understands, but Thomas feels miserable about leaving his passengers in the cold. The stationmaster explains that because they are positioned on a hill, the platform is a very cold and windy place to be. He adds that his wife brings him cups of coffee to keep him warm. This gives Thomas an idea which he shares with the stationmaster; the passengers need hot tea and coffee on cold days and cold drinks on warm days. The stationmaster is sure that his wife would be happy to run a café on the platform if the Fat Controller agrees. The Fat Controller does agree and the café is a big success.
- Thomas says that he has an engine, but steam locomotives do not have engines.