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The Railway Series is a series of story books about the railways on the fictional Island of Sodor. The books were created by the Rev. W. Awdry, who wrote the first stories back in 1943. He wrote twenty-six books from 1945 up until 1972. A further sixteen books were written by Christopher Awdry, his son. The final book was published in 2011.

The stories and characters would go on to form the basis for Thomas & Friends, with many of the books and stories being adapted into full episodes.






Rev. W. Awdry

Cover Title Published No. #
The Three Railway Engines 12th May 1945 #01
Edward is let out of his shed, Gordon runs into trouble with some trucks, and Henry is shut up in a tunnel for being vain.
Thomas the Tank Engine 18th October 1946 #02
A station pilot named Thomas longs to leave his yard to go out and see the world and has several adventures.
James the Red Engine 1948 #03
James, the new engine on the Fat Controller's Railway, gets into trouble and tries to make up for his mistakes.
Tank Engine Thomas Again 1949 #04
Thomas has many adventures on his new branch line.
Troublesome Engines September 1950 #05
When Gordon, Henry and James begin to behave badly and go on strike, a new tank engine named Percy is brought to help out.
Henry the Green Engine 1951 #06
Henry proves his worth to the Fat Controller, in spite of his illness, and is finally cured.
Toby the Tram Engine 1952 #07
A steam tram named Toby comes to Sodor with his faithful coach, Henrietta, to help the Fat Controller after his old tramway closes down.
Gordon the Big Engine 1953 #08
Gordon is in disgrace after landing in trouble with the Fat Controller, but manages to pull his act together in time for a royal visit.
Edward the Blue Engine 1954 #09
Edward is getting old, but proves he has plenty of life left in him.
Four Little Engines 1955 #10
The Skarloey Railway engines work together to keep their line running.
Percy the Small Engine 1956 #11
Percy is fed-up of being ordered about and gets a chance to shine when he is reallocated to Thomas' Branch Line.
The Eight Famous Engines 1957 #12
Already famous for their adventures on Sodor, the Fat Controller's engines take a trip to England.
Duck and the Diesel Engine 1958 #13
Duck becomes suspicious when a devious diesel comes to Sodor and blames him for causing trouble.
The Little Old Engine 1959 #14
Skarloey returns to Sodor and finds out that things have changed on his little railway.
The Twin Engines 1960 #15
Donald and Douglas, two well-meaning Scottish goods engines, create confusion for the Fat Controller when he only expects one engine.
Branch Line Engines 1961 #16
Thomas has an accident and a lazy diesel railcar named Daisy comes to Sodor to fill in for him, but only causes more trouble.
Gallant Old Engine 1962 #17
The Skarloey Railway prepares for Rheneas' return.
Stepney the "Bluebell" Engine 1963 #18
Stepney, an engine from the Bluebell Railway, pays a visit to the Island of Sodor and its engines.
Mountain Engines 1964 #19
Culdee returns to the Mountain Railway, and Lord Harry makes up for a silly mistake.
Very Old Engines 1965 #20
Skarloey and Rheneas recall their early days and celebrate their 100th anniversary.
Main Line Engines 1966 #21
Bill and Ben play a trick on a new diesel, Gordon and James get into silly mishaps, and Edward pulls through to bring his passengers home.
Small Railway Engines 1967 #22
Three miniature gauge engines - Rex, Bert and Mike - come to Sodor to work on a new railway.
Enterprising Engines 4th October 1968 #23
A special visitor comes to Sodor, two diesels are put on trial, and Douglas rescues a steam engine from the cutter's torch.
Oliver the Western Engine 15th November 1969 #24
Oliver, the new Great Western engine on the Little Western, gets into trouble when his overconfidence gets the better of him.
Duke the Lost Engine 15th October 1970 #25
Peter Sam and Sir Handel recall their old days on the Mid Sodor Railway, and a search begins to find Duke.
Tramway Engines 15th October 1972 #26
Thomas and Percy get in a quarrel and a new diesel shunter named Mavis causes trouble for Toby.

These volumes were later compiled into Thomas the Tank Engine: The Complete Collection. The Complete Collection compilations were released by various publishers in different years and countries, all containing the same 26 volumes.

Christopher Awdry

Cover Title Published No. #
Really Useful Engines 12th September 1983 #27
Life on the Fat Controller's Railway is far from dull.
James and the Diesel Engines 17th September 1984 #28
James is still convinced that diesels are not very useful, but slowly learns to put his prejudices behind him.
Great Little Engines 28th October 1985 #29
Sir Handel visits the Talyllyn Railway.
More About Thomas the Tank Engine 22nd September 1986 #30
Thomas and Percy fall out after an accident, but manage to make up for it.
Gordon the High-Speed Engine 7th September 1987 #31
Gordon tries to prove that he can be just as fast as the new high-speed diesels, and Pip and Emma visit the railway for the first time.
Toby, Trucks and Trouble 19th September 1988 #32
Percy and Toby run the branch line and Mavis has an accident with a lorry.
Thomas and the Twins 11th September 1989 #33
Thomas must work on Edward's Branch Line for the time being, and meets Bill and Ben while he is there.
Jock the New Engine 6th August 1990 #34
A boastful new engine called Jock starts work on the Arlesdale Railway.
Thomas and the Great Railway Show 12th August 1991 #35
Thomas travels to the Mainland to attend a grand railway exhibition at the National Railway Museum.
Thomas Comes Home 15th June 1992 #36
Percy, Toby and Daisy must manage the branch line while Thomas is away in England.
Henry and the Express 8th April 1993 #37
Henry is feeling ill again and must go to the Works for an overhaul.
Wilbert the Forest Engine 8th August 1994 #38
Wilbert is called in from the Dean Forest Railway to help the Ffarquhar Branch Line engines and Donald and Douglas.
Thomas and the Fat Controller's Engines 1st August 1995 #39
The engines prepare for the fiftieth anniversary of The Railway Series.
New Little Engine 8th August 1996 #40
A new engine is built for the Skarloey Railway.
Thomas and Victoria 3rd September 2007 #41
The Fat Controller has an old coach named Victoria renovated to help Toby on the branch line.
Thomas and his Friends 6th July 2011 #42
The Thin Clergyman's centenary is celebrated and Pip and Emma become permanent members of the North Western Railway.

All except the last volume were later compiled in Thomas the Tank Engine: The New Collection.

  • Another Railway Series book titled Barry the Rescue Engine was also being written by Christopher Awdry, but was cancelled.

Other Books

Cover Title Writer Published
Thomas's Christmas Party Rev. W. Awdry 29th October 1984
Thomas wants to hold a special Christmas party for Mrs. Kyndley. Unfortunately, Mrs. Kyndley's house is snowed in.
Thomas and the Missing Christmas Tree Christopher Awdry 20th October 1986
Thomas is sent to collect a Christmas tree, but when he ends up getting lost along the way home, Donald and Douglas set off to rescue him in time for the Christmas celebrations.
Thomas and the Evil Diesel Christopher Awdry 5th October 1987
Diesel returns to Sodor to help out on Thomas' branch line and manages to redeem himself after causing trouble.
Thomas and the Hurricane Christopher Awdry 16th March 1992
Thomas and his friends deal with the aftermath of a hurricane.

Companion Volumes

Pop-up Books

Bad Days for Thomas


From 1979-1980, the annuals were written by the Rev. W. Awdry, and from 1985-1996 by Christopher Awdry. In some cases, these stories expanded upon earlier Railway Series books, in others they were entirely new, and some later rewritten and used as Railway Series stories.


  • Nearly all of The Railway Series stories were based upon real-life events. As a life-long railway enthusiast, Wilbert Awdry was keen that his stories should be as realistic as possible. The engine characters were almost all based upon real classes of locomotives, and some of the railways themselves were directly based upon real lines in the British Isles.
  • During the 1970s, Andrew Lloyd Webber planned a musical adaptation of The Railway Series, but Awdry refused to give him the control he wanted. Lloyd Webber would later go on to compose Starlight Express and formed the "Really Useful Group", a name inspired by the phrase "Really Useful Engine".
  • In 1973, Kaye and Ward released the Japanese translation of Awdry's 26 books. The series was translated by Kuwabara Saburou and Shimizu Shuyu. Genyuu Kuroiwa supervised the technical terms of the railway. Christopher's books, however, have yet to be translated into Japanese.


The Railway Series