Main Page

“Exactly so! You be thankful, Sir Handel, that we're not a mountain railway."​
"A mountain railway! What's that?"
"A railway that climbs mountains, of course.”
―Rheneas and Sir Handel arguing about mountain railways

Mountain Engines is the nineteenth book of the Railway Series.


Dear Friends,
A Rack Railway climbs the mountain called Culdee Fell. Lord Harry Barrane is Chairman of the railway company. Lots of people travel on it in the summer.

Mr. Walter Richards, the Manager, does not have an easy time. There are seven engines, one of whom, No.5, is still away being mended. Another, No. 6, was named Lord Harry. This was a mistake. It made him conceited and... But you must read the stories for yourselves.

I hope you will enjoy this book about a different kind of railway.
The Author


Mountain Engine

Sir Handel is grumpy and complains about the coaches for causing trouble for him, and Rheneas tells a him that he should be grateful that he does not work on a mountain railway. Sir Handel does not believe such a thing exists, and an argument ensues until Donald arrives with Culdee, a queer-looking mountain engine. When Culdee wakes up, he tells the little engines about his line, and an adventure he had on the first day when he learned how to use his automatic brakes during a thrilling journey down a mountain.

Bad Look-Out

Duncan is in a bad mood because the Thin Controller says he kept a bad look out, so Skarloey and Rheneas change the conversation by asking Culdee about his coaches. The conversation soon drifts to Culdee's automatic brakes, and the story of Godred, an engine who held too much faith in his automatic brakes. Even though everyone tried everything, they found nothing wrong, but Godred continued in his way. Then one day, Godred fell off the rails and was sent to the back of the shed, where he was cannibalised for his parts. Sir Handel and Duncan are scared and remain silent, but Skarloey and Rheneas do not mention the tale was made up.

Danger Points

Donald brings Culdee home, where he discovers that three new engines have arrived - Alaric, Eric and Lord Harry, the last of whom is loud and risk-taking. The next day, Culdee makes fun of Lord Harry's "super-heat" and Lord Harry determines to pay him out. Unfortunately, he derails at the summit, preventing Wilfred from taking his "down" train. Lord Harry is rescued and sent to the back of the Shed in disgrace.

"Devil's Back"

Lord Harry is punished by having his name taken away, now being referred by his #6, and, after hearing Culdee's story of Godred, asks the Manager to be let out. The Manager agrees, but forbids him from pushing passenger trains, so #6 is kept taking supplies and workmen to Summit Hotel. One day, he is preparing to continue up Devil's Back, a difficult part of the line, when a message arrives about a group of injured climbers, and #6 is sent to rescue them. Despite the strong wind, #6 perseveres and the leader of the climbers asks the Manager to rename #6 after a friend who helped him when he was injured. Nowadays, #6 is renamed Patrick and only takes risks when absolutely necessary.




  • This is the first Railway Series book not to have any of its stories televised.
  • This was the first and only appearance of the Culdee Fell Railway and its locomotives. The railway would not be mentioned in the series again until Thomas and his Friends in 2011.
  • Christopher Awdry has stated that the reason there are no more books about the Culdee Fell Railway is due to the safety precautions and limited traffic - meaning no more story opportunities.
  • According to an interview, one of the reasons this book didn't have any episodes based on it was because the Culdee Fell Engines were not very merchandisable because of the railway's climbing rack track, the engines' strange angled bodies and also their limited storylines.
  • The story "Bad Look Out" is based on the Snowdon Mountain Railway's opening day accident with their first engine, L.A.D.A.S.
  • The Reverend acknowledged the help given by members of management and staff of the Snowdon Mountain Railway Ltd. in the preparation of this book.
  • The present day events of this book took place in 1963. The flashback events took place in 1900.


  • In the first illustration, Sir Handel's cab roof is white.
  • Skarloey has a numberplate on the back of his cab in the third illustration of "Mountain Engine".
  • In one of Culdee's flashbacks Alaric appears, but Culdee did not learn of Alaric's existence until he returned.
  • Donald has Douglas' tender in the first illustration of "Danger Points".

In Other Languages

Language Title
Chinese 高山小火车
Japanese 山にのぼる機関車
Korean 등산 철도 기관차들