- “I'm sorry we can't help, but we are special lightweight coaches.”
Gordon the High-Speed Engine is the thirty-first book of the Railway Series.
Over here on the Other Railway we are used to High-Speed Trains, and know how useful they can be. But when Gordon first heard of them he began boasting about how fast he could go. He should have known better, because he only landed himself in disgrace and made the Fat Controller cross. These stories tell how hard Gordon worked to redeem himself and make the Fat Controller think again.
Gordon is jealous when Donald talks about high-speed engines and boasts that he can go faster. He sets out to prove it when he takes the Express. Unfortunately, Gordon slips on the slippery rails and the water in his boiler surges forwards, making him unable to stop creating steam even though he can't move forward. Donald takes him back to the shed after he runs out of steam and the rails Gordon was running on are replaced.
Gordon feels "stuffed up" and sneezes at Wellsworth, unfortunately spraying soot onto a party of wedding guests. The Fat Controller delays a visit to the mainland to apologise to the guests, but has to wait for another train to get home, when Gordon steams back past and some ashes fall onto his top hat. When Gordon gets home an inspector comes up with a message telling Gordon that he will be disciplined when the Fat Controller returns.
Gordon, trying to make amends, is rushing at his hill when a firebar collapses. Thinking quickly, the driver tells the fireman to put a large piece of coal over the hole. Gordon manages to struggle to a loop, and BoCo comes to help. The Fat Controller thanks BoCo and is about to say something to Gordon when he has to go to his train, leaving Gordon in suspense.
Gordon Proves His Point
Gordon is at Barrow-in-Furness when a porter asks him to take a train of enthusiasts up to Carlisle. The Fat Controller gives his consent, and two powercars called Pip and Emma take the Express back to Tidmouth. James, who is taking a stopping train, is asked to help Pip and Emma after Pip breaks down. At Tidmouth, the Fat Controller thanks James and asks him to make Pip and Emma welcome. When Gordon returns, the Fat Controller forgives him for his smokescreen and tells him that the ashes came from an ashtray being emptied by a steward. Gordon takes the passengers home.
- Donald and Douglas
- Sir Topham Hatt
- The Wedding Guests
- Pip (does not speak)
- 10751 (does not speak; not named)
- Duck (cameo)
- 31120 (cameo)
- Edward (mentioned)
- Mallard (mentioned)
- Bear (mentioned)
- The Works Diesel (mentioned)
- The Stone-dropping Boys (mentioned)
- Tidmouth Sheds
- Gordon's Hill
- Kellsthorpe Road
- This is the first book to include the new Tidmouth Sheds.
- After writing this book, Christopher Awdry was able to retire from his job at the Inland Revenue and write full-time.
- The cover illustration is very similar to the one in Edward, Gordon and Henry.
- In "Smokescreen", a reference to "Henry's Sneeze" is made.
- Gordon's trip to Carlisle was mentioned again in the annual story, Percy's Passengers.
- This book marks a few things for BoCo:
- His face is fully yellow.
- He has a face at each end.
- His final speaking role in the Railway Series.
- This is the second Railway Series book by Christopher Awdry to be winter-themed, as the first two stories appear to take place during the winter (the first book by Christopher Awdry to be winter themed was James and the Diesel Engines) The events in this book which make it obvious that it was winter themed:
- In "High Speed Gordon", there was a sleet storm that made the weather cold and the grounds covered in frost showing that each story in this book was taking place during the winter.
- In "Smoke Screen", Gordon has the cold which was caused by the frosty and cold weather during the events in this book.
- Though the last two stories never mentioned it was cold, it did indicate that they took place during the winter (possibly in early January where it is still winter during that month). One way to look that they took place in the winter is that both "Fire Escape" and "Gordon Proves His Point" is that they both have dark winter clouds in the sky (just like the first two stories had). Another is that many trees are missing leaves on their branches. Also when James was passing Pip and Emma who had broken down there was a field in a farm that would usually have vegetables in stock in the brown earth of that position of the farm. Also in that same illustration it had what appeared to be dark winter sky in the background.
- In the first illustration, Douglas is mistaken for Donald.