- “...bless my soul! No, not that, it's Ivo Hugh!”
- ―Mr. Hugh
New Little Engine is the fortieth book of the Railway Series.
Peter Sam has been working on the Talyllyn Railway in Wales. The Thin Controller's Railway became so busy that he had to bring Peter Sam home to help. Sir Handel was jealous, but Peter Sam told us about the time he was ill while he was in Wales. It seemed too good a story to waste, so I decided to share it with you. I hope Peter Sam isn't too upset...
Rusty is given the tedious job of spraying weedkiller on the rails. Meanwhile, Rheneas has to fetch another coach after a huge influx of visitors, making him late. He has to slow down at a steep hill for some hedgecutters too, spoiling his chances of a good run at it. Because of the weedkiller, Rheneas eventually grinds to a halt and slips down the hill. His crew put sand on the rails and Rheneas makes his way up. Though the passengers have little time to enjoy the scenery at the lake, they are pleased with Rheneas' brave efforts.
Sir Handel's Plan
Sir Handel is jealous when Peter Sam is brought back from Wales especially to help with the engine shortage, and when he is convinced he sees Peter Sam grinning at him from the shed he is furious and deliberately knocks his firebars loose, resulting in his being sent to the shed. However, as the days pass and no one comes, Sir Handel worries he will stay there forever. When the Thin Controller finally comes in one day, Sir Handel confesses and the Thin Controller, thinking quickly, thanks Sir Handel for admitting his mistake and arranges for him to receive some new firebars, which, he neglects to tell him, had only been delivered that morning.
Peter Sam tells Kathy and Lizzie, two young holidaymakers, a story about the water on the Talyllyn Railway. He remembers that something was put to the water to enhance its flavour, but one day he found it awful. His crew were unconcerned, but when he started from a station, a spray of filthy white sludge was blasted out of his funnel. Talyllyn took his train, but unfortunately for him, he had to stay on a siding for the visitors. It was later discovered too much of the special powder was put in the water, and he later got a good washout. Kathy and Lizzie find the story hilarious, and leave the shed in a fit of giggles.
I Name this Engine...
All the gossip on the Skarloey Railway is about the identity of the new engine, but even the details of the naming ceremony are being kept under covers. At last, the day comes and Skarloey is chosen to pull a special train to collect the guests and pull them back to Crovan's Gate. However, on the way back a sow and her piglets stray onto the line, and the guests have to capture them and put them in their field. The train is late, but at last they arrive at the ceremony, and when Mr. Hugh does the naming he is amazed and honoured to discover the engine has been named in his honour.
- Sir Handel
- Peter Sam
- The Thin Controller
- Mr. Hugh
- Kathy and Lizzie
- Ivo Hugh (does not speak)
- Duke (does not speak)
- Agnes, Ruth, Lucy, Jemima and Beatrice (cameo)
- Gertrude and Millicent (cameo)
- Fred (mentioned)
- Talyllyn (mentioned)
- This was the last Railway Series book of a few things:
- The last book to be published by Kaye & Ward. In 1998, parent company Heinemann Books sold the Railway Series copyright to Britt Allcroft, who gave the rights to publish books to Egmont.
- The last Railway Series book for eleven years.
- The last book in which the words "engine" or engines" is in the title.
- The last appearance of the Skarloey Railway, as well as its engines, rolling stock, and staff, in the Railway Series.
- This is the only Railway Series book that has not featured any standard gauge engines.
- Christopher Awdry acknowledged the help given by members of the Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society in the preparation of this book.
- In "Speedkiller":
- Rheneas is depicted as an 0-4-2.
- In the first illustration, Rusty is seen with a circular window on the left side of his cab. In the fourth illustration an identical window is seen on the other side of his cab where a door should be.
- In the fourth illustration of "Dirty Water" the Talyllyn Railway's coaches are really Skarloey Railway coaches.
- In "I Name this Engine...":
- In the first illustration, Sir Handel's buffers are round as opposed to their normal oval shape.
- In the third illustration, Ivo Hugh appears between Duke and Duncan, but his tanks are not covered.
- In the second and third illustrations, Skarloey's dome is painted red.
- In the penultimate illustration, the curtain on Ivo Hugh's side is white, but in the final illustration it's purple. What's more, in the third and sixth illustrations Ivo Hugh is missing the blue stripes on the front of his tanks.
- In the sixth illustration, Duke is missing his coupling hook.
- Duke is missing his tender.
- Rusty and Fred are not illustrated at the naming ceremony, though the text says "all the engines except Skarloey" were there.
- Throughout the book Peter Sam is missing half of his running gear.
- In the second illustration of "Sir Handel's Plan", Peter Sam is not in the sheds.