Bad Days for Thomas and his Friends is the first of two railway safety books written by Christopher Awdry and originally published on behalf of the Rail Industry Against Trespass and Vandalism campaign in 2001. It was later republished under Track Off.
I was going to get Thomas to write these words to go at the start of the book. But all the engines said that I must do it, so here we are.
One thing we all agree about is that everyone should be told how to use the railway safely.
Railways can be dangerous places if they are not used properly. So we hope that this book will show you what some of the dangers are. We want to help stop you from being one of the many children who are killed or hurt each year on the railways as a result of misbehaviour or ignorance.
So read it carefully and use the railway safely.
The Fat Controller.
Message to teachers/parents:
Charlie the Crow appears on certain pages in the stories observing instances and consequences of dangerous behaviour on the railways. At the back of the book, he gives information relevant to the activity he sees. You can use this to reinforce the message in the story.
- New Paint for Annie and Clarabel - Annie and Clarabel are very impressed with Ffarquhar station being repainted, but they are long overdue for a repaint themselves. However, that very night, some young boys sneak around the property of the station, and their damage is discovered in the following morning by the Fat Controller in the form of red spray paint all over the buildings. The following night, the boys are caught by Policeman Len after they spray red paint all over Annie and Clarabel in the carriage shed; one boy unfortunately sprains his ankle. Whilst the two boys are taken to their parents, the Fat Controller sends Annie and Clarabel off to the Works for their 'proper' repaint.
- A Near Miss for Daisy - Thomas suffers from the carelessness of naughty children after they throw stones at him. The next day, Thomas' funnel is damaged after the children dangle objects from the bridge. Daisy is most fortunate in having Policeman Len on board when she spots something blocking her path, and her driver slams on her brakes, just in time. It turns out to be an old shopping trolley full of wood and stone on the tracks. The two children try to escape through a hole they've made in a fence, but Policeman Len catches them both. The children explain that, thinking that Toby was coming down the line, they wanted to see if he could push aside with his cowcatcher. But, Policeman Len points out sternly that Toby wouldn't be able to do that, plus the damage to the fence. Luckily for Daisy, the two children aren't seen again by the railway.
- Lucy to the Rescue - A boy called Andrew is riding his bike with his dog Lucy when he comes across a railway line, thinking that it has been closed for a long time, when in fact, it is actually Thomas' branch line. However, whilst Andrew is cycling along near the Lead Mine, his bike becomes stuck between the rails of some pointwork. Suddenly, he hears a train coming towards him, and so does Lucy. Thomas is just coming out of the tunnel when he and his driver see the dog on the tracks, forcing the brakes to come on hard. Thomas stops, but not before bending Andrew's bike slightly. Thomas' guard takes the bike, Andrew and Lucy aboard Thomas' train to Knapford where Policeman Len scolds Andrew severely, but tells him that his dog Lucy prevented an even worse disaster.
- Annie and Clarabel
- Sir Topham Hatt
- Policeman Len
- Charlie the Crow
- Thomas (does not speak)
- Toby (mentioned)
- Christopher Awdry was prompted to write this book and "More Bad Days for Thomas and his Friends" as the story Trouble on the Line from Thomas and the Great Railway Show, which originally contained the theme of safety around railway lines, was apparently "watered down" by the publishers.
- The back page of the book explains about trespassing, dumping rubbish, vandalism and graffiti, and also contains information from the British Transport Police.
- Colouring book versions of this book and "More Bad Days for Thomas and his Friends" were produced by Virgin Trains for children to colour in on their train journeys.
- In all the illustrations, the engines and rolling stock are missing their coupling gear, and the engines are missing their brake pipes.
- On Page 7, Annie and Clarabel are missing their noses.
- On Page 23, Thomas is missing his left-side buffer.