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“He runs a famous branch line. Did you know that?"
"Huh! It may be famous, but my branch is first on the line. Everyone knows that too!”
―Percy and Thomas

Thomas and Stepney is the sixteenth episode of the fourth season.

Plot

Thomas has been running his branch line like clockwork, and shares his confidence to Percy, who doubtfully agrees, and then finds out that there is an engine with a branch line as famous as his and that the engine is proposing to visit. The engine is named Stepney, who is far away but the Fat Controller says that he will visit the North Western Railway someday. 

Meanwhile, Stepney has been running the Bluebell Railway smoothly, which is not very long, much to his disappointment. Later, he sees Rusty, who saved him from scrap. Stepney tells Rusty that he is bored with the railway and is longing for a long journey, while Rusty suggests talking to his driver, who agrees with his engine. Fortunately, in the evening, he is delighted to discover that he has been invited to visit The Fat Controller's railway, in which Stepney heads off the following morning.

By now, the engines heart the news and begin to talk about Stepney, however, Thomas is a bit jealous and knows about his famous branchline, and that Stepney's is famous as his, before leaving to fetch his coaches. Percy looks at the passengers at Knapford on track 5 and claims the passengers are stranded with no train, but he is wrong; the signal drops and before long, an engine's whistle is heard from a distance. Douglas tells the engines that Stepney has come. Stepney arrives through the junction, where the engines whistle a big welcome. Edward hopes that Stepney will meet Thomas, as they both have branch lines. Stepney then goes off to work with Duck to shunt coaches in the yard all afternoon. 

Later that evening, Thomas sees Stepney and Duck but continues with his final branchline train. But then, the two tank engines are horrified when they hear shouting at the station, and a sound of a ringing alarm. The alarm turns out to be the telephone which the signalman answers, and finds that one of the trains is a special. Thomas is furious when he finds out that he has to be shunted to let another train pass and is frustrated to find Stepney pulling the special.

Thomas continues to grumble about it next morning, but Stepney explains the situation: he took an important passenger who chartered a special train which Duck let him take, yet when he is unable to finish, Thomas realises he was nervous since he did not know the line. Stepney flatters Thomas by calling him an expert and Thomas, no longer jealous and cross, proceeds to tell Stepney all about his branchline

Characters

Locations

Trivia

  • This episode is based on the stories Bluebells of England and Stepney's Special from The Railway Series book, Stepney the "Bluebell" Engine.
  • A deleted scene from Rusty to the Rescue is used.
  • This episode and Rusty to the Rescue are the only episodes of the fourth season to not be released on VHS before airing on television, but the UK narrations were released before airing on television.
  • In the UK and international versions, when the special is ordered, music is heard. This is absent in the US version. Towards the end of the episode, the background shunting noise is cut off and some whistle sounds are also missing in the US version.
  • On PBS Sprout airings, this episode uses the unrestored opening credits.
  • The area where Thomas travels in the first scene is the same set Sir Handel and George had their altercation in the episode Steam Roller, but with standard gauge track added.
  • A grey warehouse from TUGS appears at the shunting yards.

Goofs

  • When Thomas puffs past the field at the beginning, studio equipment is visible in the top-right corner.
  • While Percy is telling Thomas about Stepney, as the camera is on Thomas, Percy's right lamp iron is bent but when the camera is on Percy, it is normal.
  • While the engines wait for Stepney, a tar wagon, perched on another tar wagon, is visible behind Gordon and Henry.
  • Stepney has Smudger's whistle sound throughout most of the US version and Rheneas' whistle sound in the UK version; his usual one is heard once. In both versions, Stepney has Duke's whistle sound when he is working with Duck.
  • In the US version, when Percy finishes talking about Stepney, his whistle sound is a higher pitched version of Thomas' whistle.
  • In the UK and international versions, Gordon, Duck and Douglas have the same whistle sound.
  • When Thomas says "Why are we waiting? My passengers are being delayed", a black box is attached to his cab.
  • In the US dub, George Carlin mistakenly says "Stop all train!" instead of "Stop all trains!"

In Other Languages

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Language Title
Chinese 托马斯和斯特普尼
Czech Tomáš a Stepney
Danish Thomas og Stepney
Dutch Thomas en Stepney
Finnish Severi Vauhdissa
German Stepneys Fahrt
Greek Ο Τόμας και Ο Στέπνί
Hungarian Thomas és Stepney
Italian Thomas e Stepney
Japanese トーマスとステップニー
Korean 토마스와 스테프니
Norwegian Thomas og Stepney
Polish Tomek i Stefcio
Portuguese Thomas e Stepney
Romanian Thomas şi Stepney
Russian Томас и Степни
Slovak Thomas a Stepney
Slovenian Tomaž in Gustek
Spanish Thomas y Stepney
Swedish Thomas och Stepney
Thai สเตปนีมาเยี่ยมเพื่อนหัวรถจักร
Ukrainian Томас i Степнi
Welsh Trên Arbennig

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