Thomas first met Hong-Mei during his passenger run after saying he was the number 1 engine. However, Hong-Mei pointed out she was China’s number 1 engine, and the two had a race to see who’s the better number 1.
Unbeknownst to either engine, Hong-Mei spilled some of her delivery of rocks as she raced. This caused Thomas to derail on a shortcut line through the mountains. Hong-Mei came to Thomas’ rescue, revealing she took the shortcut line as well and made Thomas come off the rails with her carelessness. She pulled Thomas back onto the tracks and the two engines decided that two number 1 engines are just as good as one number 1 engine.
Hong-Mei is a good-natured but cheeky tank engine from China who loves to race. She is also blue like Thomas, and out to prove she’s the No. 1 blue engine.
Hong-Mei is based on the China Railways GJ 0-6-0T class. 122 members of this class were built and primarily saw industrial usage in places such as steelworks, with some remaining into service well into the 2000s. In addition to service in China, some members of the class worked in North Korea and Vietnam. Five are preserved.
Hong-Mei is painted blue with yellow lining and a red stripe along each of her side tanks. Her handrails, boiler bands and cylinder lining are brass, her wheels are red with light grey rims, and her number is painted on the sides of her tanks in yellow.
- Hong-Mei's name means "red plum" in Mandarin.
- Hong-Mei is painted with the number Yī (一号), the Chinese equivalent to the number 1, on both of her water tanks.