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"Thomas is a tank engine who lives at a Big Station on the Island of Sodor. He's a cheeky little engine, with six small wheels, a short, stumpy funnel, a short, stumpy boiler and a short, stumpy dome."
―The Narrator describing Thomas[src]

Thomas is a tank engine who works on the North Western Railway. He originally worked as the station pilot at the Big Station, but longed to leave his yard to go out and see the world. After helping to rescue James from a nasty accident, Thomas was rewarded with two new coaches, Annie and Clarabel, and was given the responsibility of running the Ffarquhar Branch Line, where he continues to work to this day.


The Railway Series

Details of Thomas' arrival on the North Western Railway in 1915 are more or less undocumented, and it is unknown how exactly he showed up. The most popular theory put forward, however, is that he was sent to Sodor in a wartime mix-up.[1] His driver and fireman got along well with the local people and married Sudrian girls, and by 1920 neither one wanted to leave the Island or their beloved engine.

On inquiry, Topham Hatt found out that the LB&SCR had written off Thomas as being "lost on war service". Rather than face complications resulting from a change in their books, the LB&SCR quietly sold Thomas to the North Western Railway for a "nominal sum".[2]

Thomas originally worked as the station pilot at Vicarstown, shunting trains for the bigger engines on the main line to take out. He enjoyed teasing the other engines, Gordon most of all, and would quietly sneak up on him and whistle loudly as he dozed on a siding. However, one morning, Gordon managed to get back at Thomas by pulling out of the station before he could be uncoupled from his coaches, dragging him down the line at tremendous speeds. Thomas vowed to never tease Gordon again, but made him change. Perhaps as a result of his brief excursion beyond his boundaries, Thomas longed to see more of a world and become a part of it, and became jealous of the bigger engines for having the opportunity to pull trains.

When Henry fell ill one morning, Thomas was allowed to take his morning passenger train when there were no other engines available, much to his delight. However, for reasons unknown, Thomas left the station before he could be coupled to his train, leaving behind the coaches, the passengers and their luggage. Thomas was not aware of his mistake , until he was stopped by a signalman who asked where his train was. Ashamed and humiliated, Thomas returned to the station, this time waiting to be coupled to his coaches, but the incident had made him a laughing stock among the bigger engines.

Thomas continued to grumble to the other engines, though they took no notice of him. However, Edward felt sorry for him, and allowed him to take his goods train to Wellsworth while he handled his shunting duties in the yard. Although Edward warned him to be careful around the trucks, Thomas took no notice and bumped the trucks as he started. When they reached Gordon's Hill, the trucks pushed him down the line, causing him to lose control. Thomas raced through Maron station and came , where he was confronted by the Fat Controller. Sometime after this, Thomas was relocated to Wellsworth to learn more about handling trucks.

Thomas was present in the yard when James ran out of control with his trucks and derailed in a field outside the station. Thomas fetched the Breakdown Train and rushed to James' aid, and he helped to clean up the broken trucks and bring James back to the shed when he was re-railed. As a reward for his actions, Thomas was given two new coaches, Annie and Clarabel, and was given the responsibility of running the Ffarquhar Branch Line, much to his delight.[3]


Thomas on his branch line

Thomas loved his branch line dearly, and had many adventures during his first days on the line. He once left his guard behind by accident, and on another occasion he accidentally swallowed a fish in his tank when he took on water from the lake, causing him tremendous pain. During the autumn season, Thomas met Terence and teased him for his caterpillar tracks, though he later came to regret this after he became stuck in the snow and had to be pulled out by him. Thomas later met Bertie and was challenged to a race to Ffarquhar. Although he was behind for most of the race, Thomas managed to overtake Bertie and won.[4]

After a compliment by his driver went to his smokebox, Thomas became conceited, believing that he no longer needed his driver to control him. The next morning, Thomas found himself moving on his own after a careless cleaner had meddled with his controls, but he was unable to stop and crashed into the Ffarquhar stationmaster's house. Thomas was sent to the Works to be mended and received some changes to his design, including a new footplate that was now level from smokebox to bunker. When Thomas returned to the branch line, he began looking after the passenger trains with Daisy.[5]

In 1990, Thomas was invited by the National Railway Museum to represent the North Western Railway in the Great Railway Show, an event showcasing many famous engines across the UK. Thomas was excited, but the journey to York was shaky; he damaged his front bufferbeam when he hit a crossing gate, and the lorry he was traveling on was booked for parking illegally. Thomas was repaired when he arrived at the Museum and befriended Green Arrow while he was being mended, though he continued to have bad luck when he ran into a bag thrown onto the line and frightened a small child. Fortunately, Thomas managed to make up for his bad luck when, as he was double-heading a railtour with Green Arrow, he noticed the line up ahead was damaged and stopped the train. As a reward for his actions, Thomas was made an honourary member of the National Railway Museum and received a commemorative plaque.[6] Afterwards, Thomas left York and returned to Sodor.[7]

Thomas & Friends


Thomas in his original livery

Before coming to Sodor, Thomas lived at Brighton, where he worked alongside several other engines. He was brought to the North Western Railway when the Fat Controller was in need of a new tank engine to shunt trains at Knapford, and was originally painted green before receiving his blue livery.

Thomas was cheeky at first, and enjoyed teasing Gordon by waking him up while he was resting at Knapford. Gordon managed to get back at Thomas by leaving the station too quickly before he could be uncoupled, and though Thomas learned his lesson about teasing Gordon, he wanted to see more of the world and go beyond the yard at Knapford station. He was given the chance to pull his first passenger train when Henry became ill, but left the station too early when he mistook the Guard's whistle for Edward's train for his own, leaving behind his coaches and passengers. Thomas was stopped by a Signalman, and he went back to the station to fetch his train.

Thomas was teased relentlessly about this mistake by the other engines, especially Gordon and James, though Edward felt sorry for him and offered to let Thomas take his goods train while he took care of his shunting duties in the yard. Thomas could hardly contain his excitement and was too excited to listen to Edward's warning about the trucks, believing that he could handle them easily. However, as he reached the top of Gordon's Hill, the trucks began pushing Thomas down the line, causing him to run out of control and nearly crashed until he stopped in a siding at Maron. As punishment for not doing his work in the yard, the Fat Controller made Thomas shunt in the yard only, giving Edward the same punishment as him.


Thomas on his branch line

Upon noticing that Henry had not come out of the sheds to pull his train during a rainy day, Thomas raced back to Tidmouth Sheds and managed to convince a paranoid Henry that the rain would not hurt him, finally helping him get over his fear of the rain. Thomas continued to work in the yard, and over time, he became more skilled at shunting. While taking a break in the yard one day, Thomas saw James being pushed by his trucks. unable to stop due to his burning brake blocks. Thomas bravely chased after James and tried to stop him, but unfortunately James derailed and landed in a field. Thomas rushed back to Knapford and retrieved Jerome and Judy, who helped him re-rail James. As a reward for his heroic actions, Thomas was rewarded with his own branch line and two coaches of his own, Annie and Clarabel. From that point on, Thomas began proudly working on his branch line.[8]


Thomas is described as being a cheeky, fussy engine. He often gets into scrapes, usually by being over eager to do things best left to bigger and more sensible engines. But clouds never last long in Thomas' life, and he's soon bustling about again, playing his part in the yard and on his very own branch line, of which he is extremely proud.

He loves teasing the others, especially the bigger engines, such as Gordon, and on occasion brags about his superiority, but is always brought down to earth in due course by anyone willing to correct him, especially the Fat Controller, and his two coaches, Annie and Clarabel. If Thomas has one major character flaw, it is that he is forgetful and rather impatient. However, he is also optimistic, idealistic, and altruistic, and has a heart of gold.

A friend to all engines, and a popular member of the Fat Controller’s Railway, Thomas is No.1 and does his best every day to live up to that through helping his friends and those that he cares about.  He lives to be a Really Useful Engine and encourages everyone else to do the same.

Technical Details


Thomas is based on the LB&SCR Class E2 0-6-0T, particularly the second batch of locomotives built with extended side-tanks. These engines were built by Brighton Works between 1913-1916 to replace the aging Stroudley E1 class, and were primarily used for heavy shunting and short-distance freight trains in the London area and on the south coast. During their final working years, the E2 class worked as shunting engines at Southampton Docks, until they were replaced by the BR Class 07 diesel shunters. All of the E2s have been scrapped, with none surviving to preservation.

Thomas has several major differences from the original E2 class. He is much shorter in length than his original basis, he has two extra windows on the sides of his cab, and he has wheel splashers, something the E2 class lacked. In early volumes of The Railway Series and the television series, Thomas' footplate is dipped at the front, but oddly enough is not dipped at the back. In Branch Line Engines, his footplate was leveled out from smokebox to bunker.


Thomas is painted in the North Western Railway's sky blue livery with red lining. His number is painted on the sides of his tanks in yellow with red lining, and the lining around his cab windows is yellow.

In The Adventure Begins, Thomas was originally painted teal-green with white lining. He had the initials "LBSC" and the number 70 painted on the sides of his tanks and cab respectively in yellow with red lining, and his wheel rims were white.

In the first three seasons of the television series, Thomas had red lining on the back of his coal bunker, but during production of All at Sea, the lining was removed for unknown reasons. The lining was later re-added to him in The Adventure Begins.

Background Information

The Original Thomas


The First Thomas

When the Reverend W. Awdry created Thomas, he existed only as a wooden toy made for his son, Christopher. This engine looked rather different from the character in the books and television series, and was based on an LNER J50 or a Hudswell Clarke with smaller side tanks and splashers. He was painted teal-green with yellow lining, and carried the number 1 on his bunker on both sides in yellow and also carried the letters "NW" on his side tanks in yellow. Awdry claimed that this stood for "No Where," but later works would identify the railway Thomas and his friends worked on as the North Western Railway.

For the illustrations of Thomas the Tank Engine, Edmund Ward, then-publisher of the Railway Series, hired illustrator Reginald Payne, who decided to base Thomas on the LB&SCR E2 Class. (Awdry was annoyed that Thomas was obviously not the tank engine he had first drawn, but he was satisfied when Payne explained that he was drawn after a real prototype). Unfortunately, Payne did not receive any credit for his work; it is only since the publication of Brian Sibley's The Thomas the Tank Engine Man that he has received recognition.

Footplate Problems


Thomas with his flat footplate

Thomas' footplate was allegedly a source of contention for the Rev. W. Awdry during the course of the Railway Series. As originally drawn, Thomas had a distinctive dip at the front of his footplate, but not on the back. The story goes that to Awdry's eyes, this meant that Thomas' buffers would be at different levels, an operational inaccuracy and impossibility. This seems curious on Awdry's part, as all the artists had drawn Thomas as having an extra-deep rear bufferbeam to compensate, thus putting the front and rear buffers at the same level.

Be it a matter of taste or inaccuracy, the issue of the running-plate had to be settled: thus Thomas' excursion into the stationmaster's house at Ffarquhar was arranged. After his repairs at Crovan's Gate, Thomas returned with a new modified running plate that was flat and level from smokebox to bunker. In the television series, Thomas' footplate was never fixed, even after the events of Thomas Comes to Breakfast were adapted.

Too Much Thomas?

Behind the Scenes

Thomas in Popular Culture

Since his debut in the Railway Series and the launch of the television series, Thomas has become an extraordinarily popular character, appearing in over twenty seasons and starring in several direct-to-video films. Because of his popularity, Thomas has even appeared or has been mentioned in other popular shows and films, as well as appearing in many public events too.

Thomas appeared in the 2009 Children in Need charity single produced by the BBC. In it, he was voiced by Ringo Starr, the former narrator of the television series.

In 2014, a balloon of Thomas was launched for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade to celebrate the upcoming 70th Anniversary of the Railway Series, and he has continued to appear in the parade since then. Thomas was also featured in the Toronto Santa Claus parade alongside Percy and Rosie on 15th November, 2015.

In the 2015 Marvel film, Ant-Man, Thomas made a cameo appearance in the form of a model train. Bachmann HO scale models of him, Annie, Clarabel and Emily's coaches were used for the film, and his large scale model was used for , with the face digitally altered to resemble the one on the HO scale model.



He was also going to be appearing in the film titled The Adventures of Thomas.

Learning Segments Models:




Thomas also appeared in the magazine stories, A Colourful Christmas, A Good Hiding Place, A Hole in One, A Job for James, A Long Way Up!, A Puzzle for Percy, A Rocket for Thomas, A Special Story about Guards and Porters, A Special Story about Steam, A Strange Squeak, An Old Friend, Animal Antics!, Back-to-Front, Behind Schedule, Bill and BoCo, Bulgy's Dream, Bulstrode the Engine, Catch!, Christmas Puddings, Clean Getaway!, Clever Carriages, Clever Climbers!, Clowning Around, Danger Signs!, Deep Dive, Diesel Causes Delay, Double Attraction, Dressing Up, Engine Plates, Fair Scare!, Fast Food!, Feeding Time, Fish and Chips, Fish and Fog!, Fishy Diesel!, Flag Day, Fun and Games!, Funnels and Tunnels, Gordon the Town Engine, Guard Duty!, Harold and the Broken Tree, Harvest Time, Henry's Soaking!, Henry Goes Round, Holiday Havoc!, I Spy with my Little Eye, In the Bag, Jack Frost, Just Right, Keeping Dry Lazy Wheels, Letting off Steam!, Lights On, Looking Splendid, Lost and Found, Misbehaving, Monster Surprise, Parking? No Problem!, Party Time!, Percy's House, Percy's Spooky Tooth, Percy and the Trucks, Picnic Surprise, Picture Posters, Pigeon Passengers!, Pink Cows, Pirate Passengers, Pot Luck!, Proud Percy!, Railway Open Day, Really Important Luggage, Really Useful Edward, Really Useful Rosie, Reindeer Cheer!, Rhyming Engines, Road Train, Road and Rails, Santa Special, Scaredy Puffer!, Seeing Steam, Slick Trick!, Snap Happy, So Much to See, Sodor's Strong Man, Sodor's Strongest Engine, Sodor Goes Pop!, Sodor Rock, Special Bus Service, Special Passengers, Special Places, Special Treats, Spooky Station, Station Mystery, Steaming Along!, Stick with Steam, Stormy Weather, Summer, Sunny Smile, Taking Toby, The Balloon Race, The Best Band, The Best Bridge, The Best Engine, The Big Ship, The Blue Engine Club, The Christmas Sacks, The Craft Show!, The Flying Broomstick, The Great Statue Robbery, The Hallowe'en Special, The Huge Horses!, The Lighthouse Light, The Mystery Tour, The Open Top Bus, The Poorly Engine!, The Round-up, The Runaway Percy, The Smugglers, The Strongest, The UFO, There and Back, Think Pink and Thomas and the Baby.


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Audio Files


First used Last used Composers Theme Song
Season 1 Season 2 Mike O'Donnell
Junior Campbell
Season 8 Season 12 Ed Welch
Robert Hartshorne


First used Last used Sound Effect
Season 1 Active


  • Thomas was the first character in the Railway Series to have a number. According to Brian Sibley, Awdry used the number one because it was the easiest to draw.
  • Thomas was the first character introduced in the television series.
  • Christopher Awdry lost the original Thomas toy when he was in the United States. However, the model was recreated in 2015 for a 70th Anniversary sizzle.
  • Thomas' LBSC number, 70, was actually carried by a real LB&SCR locomotive, an A1 named "Poplar" currently preserved by the Kent & East Sussex Railway. The number also represents the 70th Anniversary of the Railway Series.


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Wooden Railway

Name Released Discontinued Highlights Photo
  • Sold in various sets
  • Multiple versions available
"Tired Out" Thomas
  • Available in "Thomas and Bertie's Great Race" story pack and "Hard at Work 5-Car Value Pack"
  • Features unique "tired" face
10 Years of Thomas in America Set
  • Includes Thomas with exclusive dining coach and 6" track
  • Features unique painted eyes
Battery Operated Thomas
  • Features die-cast metal body
  • Requires one AA battery
Thomas Winter Wonderland Train
  • Includes Thomas with snowplough, present car and winter caboose
  • Snowplough Thomas also available in "Adventures of Thomas"
Thomas Comes to Breakfast
  • Based on Thomas Comes to Breakfast
  • Available in "Thomas Comes to Breakfast Pack" and "Adventures of Thomas"
Paint Splattered Thomas
  • Based on Calling All Engines!
  • 2006 version features unique sad face
  • 2013 version features unique shocked face
"Celebrating 60 Years" Thomas
  • Released for the 60th Anniversary
  • Features metallic paintwork
Collectible Golden Thomas
  • Released for the 60th Anniversary
  • Sold in special Home Video Bonus Packs
Adventures of Thomas
  • Includes
    • Winter Wonderland Thomas
    • Paint Splattered Thomas
    • Thomas Comes to Breakfast (2006-2012)
    • Fish-Covered Thomas (2013-2017)
Happy Birthday Thomas & Box Car
  • Includes streamer-covered Thomas and birthday-themed boxcar
  • Birthday Thomas re-released in the "Happy Birthday" two-pack in 2013
Lights & Sounds Thomas
  • Features working headlamp
  • Includes "chugging" and whistle sounds
Sodor Day Thomas
  • Based on The Great Discovery
  • Only available in "Sodor Day Thomas and Stanley" two-pack
  • Toys R Us exclusive
Mud Covered Thomas
  • Based on The Great Discovery
  • Also available in "Muddy Thomas and George" two-pack and "Splish, Splash, Splosh! Story Pack"
Talking Railway Series Thomas
  • Released for the "Talking Railway Series" line
  • Also available as "Celebration Thomas"
Talking Thomas
  • Voiced by Ben Small (UK) and Martin Sherman (US)
  • 2009 version reuses Lights & Sounds Thomas model
Slippy Sodor Thomas
  • Based on Slippy Sodor
  • "Slippy Sodor Gift Pack" exclusive
Thomas and the Buzzy Bees
  • Based on Buzzy Bees
  • Includes bee-covered Thomas with Sodor Honey car
  • Honey car features "buzzing" noise
Stinky Cheese Thomas
  • Based on Thomas and the Stinky Cheese
  • "Thomas and the Stinky Cheese" 3-pack exclusive
  • Features unique sad face
"Trick or Treat" Thomas
  • Includes "Trick or Treat" Thomas with Halloween Caboose
Day Out with Thomas 2010
  • Sold exclusively at "Day Out with Thomas" events in the United States
Thomas with Musical Candy Cane Car
  • Includes Thomas with Santa hat and musical candy cane car
  • Candy cane car plays music when doors are opened
Happy Easter Thomas
  • Includes "Happy Easter" Thomas with Easter egg car
Holiday Lights Thomas
  • Features working Christmas lights on running board and cab
Oil-Covered Thomas
  • Based on Day of the Diesels
  • Sold in exclusive "blind box"
Thomas' Castle Delivery
  • Based on King of the Railway
  • Includes Thomas with Ulfstead Castle banner and cargo car with two suits of armour
Happy Birthday Special
  • Based on Happy Birthday Sir!
  • Includes "Birthday Thomas" with birthday cake flatbed
  • Cake plays Thomas & Friends theme when button is pressed
Santa's Little Engine
  • Based on Santa's Little Engine
  • Includes red-nosed "reindeer Thomas" and cargo car with sleigh
Roll & Whistle Thomas
  • Features working headlamp and "puffing" sounds
Thomas Engine Gift Pack
  • Released for the 70th Anniversary
  • "Thomas 1942" is based on the Rev. W. Awdry's original Thomas
  • "Thomas 2015" features shiny paint and gold parts
Light-Up Reveal Thomas
  • Cab lights up when wheels roll
Thomas' Cranberry Spill
  • Sold exclusively at Thomas Land US
  • Includes "Cranberry Splash" Thomas and cranberry car

Green text indicates reintroduction


Name Released Discontinued Highlights Photo
  • Battery-powered version also available
Battery Powered Thomas
  • Features working headlights
  • Forward/reverse movement


Name Released Discontinued Highlights Photo
  • Sold in various sets
Birthday Thomas
(coming soon)
  • Includes "Birthday Thomas" with birthday cake cargo car

Ertl Company

Name Released Discontinued Highlights Photo
2002 (US)
2004 (UK)
  • Multiple versions available
Gold Thomas
  • Released for the 50th Anniversary
  • Features metallic gold paint


Name Released Discontinued Highlights Photo
  • Features moving eyes
  • Sold in various sets
Celebration Thomas
  • Released for the 70th Anniversary
  • Features metallic paintwork and bunting decals
Thomas (G Scale)
  • Features moving eyes
  • DCC-equipped version also available
Thomas (G Scale Christmas)
  • Features Santa hat and detachable snowplough
  • Sold exclusively in "Thomas' Christmas Delivery" set


Name Released Discontinued Highlights Photo
  • Made using a modified LB&SCR E2 class model

Lionel Trains

Tomix Trains


* RWS only | ** T&F only | --- Dropped

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