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The Runaway

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This article is about the episode. You may be looking for the magazine story.
"Stop! Stop!"
— Annie and Clarabel
The Runaway

David Mitton


David Mitton
Robert D. Cardona


Christopher Awdry
Britt Allcroft
David Mitton


Ringo Starr (UK/US)
George Carlin (US)

Air date

October 22nd,
1986 (UK)
April 29th,
1988 (AUS)
May 28th,
1989 (US)
June 11th,
1991 (JPN)

Previous episode

Percy and Harold/
Percy Proves a Point

Next episode

Percy Takes
the Plunge

The Runaway is the tenth episode of the second season. It first aired on Shining Time Station in the episode Mapping it Out in 1989.


One day, Thomas wakes up feeling ill. Workmen are unable to make him feel better, so the Fat Controller is forced to send Thomas to the works for a while. He then asks Duck to take over Thomas' duties on the branch line. Duck is delighted to be given such a responsibility.

Duck is already friends with Percy, and quickly befriends Toby, Bertie, and Terence, who tells Duck to take extra special care with Annie and Clarabel. Duck is very gentle with them, and both coaches are left very impressed with the Great Western engine and remark on what a pleasure it is to go out with him. When Thomas returns from the works, the two coaches tell him how well Duck had managed on the line. Thomas does not feel jealous, as he is just happy to be back home.

Although he is back from the works, Thomas is not in complete working order. His handbrake has been left very stiff, meaning it can feel like his brakes are hard-on when they are not. Because of this, Thomas begins to overrun the station platform, embarrassing him greatly. Eventually, Thomas' crew learns to compensate for the handbrake, and they stop in just the right place.

Thomas' fireman falls ill one day, and a relief man takes his place. Thomas arrives at the station, and the new fireman couples him to Annie and Clarabel, then joins the driver and stationmaster on the platform while they wait for Henry to deliver his passengers. However, the relief fireman has forgotten about the stiff handbrake. Soon, Henry starts to approach with the passengers. But as Thomas' brakes are not completely on, his wheels start to move, and Thomas cannot stop or whistle a warning without his crew. Before anyone realises what has happened, Thomas has left everyone stranded on the platform.

Annie and Clarabel scream for Thomas to stop, but he has plenty of steam and keeps going. Soon, an alarm goes out about the runaway train. An engine inspector boards Harold the helicopter, and flies to a station where Thomas is due to pass by and makes a plan.

When Thomas reaches the station, he is very tired and is moving far slower than normal. The inspector then makes it to the platform. And when Thomas passes, the inspector scrambles aboard the cab and puts Thomas' brakes on, finally bringing the tank engine to a stop. Both Thomas and the inspector are very relieved and thank Harold, who tells them it was no problem.

The inspector tells Thomas that they must make sure this never happens again. Thomas, exhausted, could not agree more.





  • When the Fat Controller speaks to Duck, the right buffer of the Breakdown Train is broken.
  • The brakevan behind Duck appears to be derailed when Thomas passes.
  • Duck's eyes look wonky when he stops next to Terence.
  • When Duck leaves Terence, his eyes jitter for a few seconds.
  • Annie is facing the wrong way when Duck passes Tidmouth Sheds.
  • When Thomas returns to the sheds, Percy's eyes are wonky.
  • In a close-up of Thomas when he returns home from the works, his face is a little wonky.
  • The ill fireman's arm starts very low down on his body.
  • Because of stock footage, during the shot of the ill fireman, the cab is actually James'.
  • Many of the small scale railway staff figures have paint chips.
  • Henry's eyes are wonky.
  • Henry is smiling when Thomas is running away. Also, because of the use of stock footage, Annie and Clarabel are also smiling throughout the runaway.
  • When Harold lands at the station, studio equipment is reflected on his "blades". 
  • Thomas enters the station when the inspector is on the platform, but comes into the station again a few seconds later.
  • In a close-up of Thomas' wheels, a red wire can be seen near his middle wheel.
  • Thomas' eyes are wonky for most of the episode.
  • When the narrator says "The inspector had made a plan", the letters RIP can be seen written on the inside of Harold's door in the top left hand corner.

In Other Languages

Language Name Meaning
Italian Una corsa sfrenata A Wild Ride
Croatian Bijeg Breakout
German Der Ausreißer The Runaway
Norwegian Tog på avveie Runaway Train
French Le fugitif The Fugitive
Japanese こわれたブレーキ Broken Brakes
Welsh Help gan Harold Help from Harold
Spanish Thomas en Dificultades Troubled Thomas
Finnish Karkulainen Runaway
Danish Det Løbske Tog The Runaway Train
Chinese 失控 Out of Control
Ukrainian Утікач Fugitive
Hungarian Az elszabadult mozdony The Runaway Train



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