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Time for Trouble

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This article is about the episode. You may be looking for the Buzz Book.
"Coo! The express is late and it's got two engines! I think James couldn't pull it on his own, so Toby had to help him!"
— The boy
Time for Trouble

David Mitton


Britt Allcroft
David Mitton


Reverend W. Awdry
Britt Allcroft
David Mitton


Michael Angelis (UK)
George Carlin (US)

Air date

December 26th,
1991 (US)
March 17th,
1992 (UK)
April 28th,
1992 (JAP)
February 17th,
1993 (AUS)

Previous episode

Percy's Promise

Next episode

Gordon and the
Famous Visitor

Time for Trouble is the third episode of the third season. It first aired on Shining Time Station in the episode Jingle, Jingle, Jingle in 1991.


It is a very busy time for the Fat Controller's engines, as the Island of Sodor has a lot of visitors. The Fat Controller schedules more trains to cope with the demand, with Gordon in particular having to make more journies than usual. Gordon is eager to ensure all his trains are on time and works harder than ever to make sure this happens. Things are so hectic that at times Gordon has no sooner dropped off one load of passengers that he has to take another. Gordon doesn't mind however, and does his increased workload without fuss. The Fat Controller however soon decides that Gordon deserves a rest and James will take his trains and the express instead. James couldn't be happier at the chance to show off and be as respected as Gordon.

One day in the quarry, James boasts to Toby about how important he is and how he's never late. The Fat Controller arrives and tells Toby its time for him to go to the works to have his worn parts replaced. Toby is upset at having to go for repairs and asks if Henrietta can go with him, however the Fat Controller refuses as he needs all coaches to be available. Percy promises to look after Henrietta while Toby is gone.

Toby puffs away to the Works on the main line, however as his water tank is smaller than most of the other engines he soon feels thirsty. He is glad when he starts to approach Lower Tidmouth and stops for a drink as he doesn't think it will be a problem and neither does his driver. However the signalman has never met Toby and he orders him to continue on and clear the line for James and the express. Toby sadly leaves and struggles to the next station to stock up, but runs out of water and loses steam and is left stranded on the main line.

Toby's fireman knows they need to warn James about the blockage on the line and luckily Percy comes by with Henrietta who hates leaving Toby stranded. Percy assures her she's helping Toby by carrying the fireman which cheers her up. The fireman reaches the station in time and tells James's crew what has happened. The signalman apologises for causing the trouble while James is angry, knowing this will make him late and fumes when his driver tells him he'll need to push Toby as well as pull the express.

Finding Toby, James gives the tram a bump before starting to push him along. James works harder than ever, having to push and pull a train at the same time and by the time he reaches the station he is exhausted. Some children on the platform see this and joke that as the express is late and James is tired it must mean that he couldn't pull it alone and needed Toby's help. Toby assures James the children are only teasing, but James does not see the funny side at all.




  • This episode is based on the story Double Header from The Railway Series book, The Eight Famous Engines.
  • In some UK releases, the narration is out of sync.
  • In a rare picture, when Percy comes to Toby's rescue, he is on the line next to Toby and coming from the same direction rather than the opposite.
  • In a rare still, Toby is seen going under the bridge instead of over it.
  • In a deleted scene, Gordon is crossing the viaduct in the opposite direction.


  • Toby starts to move before James does, even though he has no steam.
  • James takes Toby to Knapford, not the Works.
  • Percy's whistle is now one tone lower. Throughout the rest of the season his whistle sound changes several times.
  • In the restored version, when the narrator says "James had to work very hard" while passing a field of flowers, smoke is coming out of Toby's funnel.
  • When Toby's fireman says "Please, take me back to the station. It's an emergency", the faded marks of where a smile had been are visible behind his frown.
  • In a deleted scene, James' tender is missing.

In Other Languages

Language Name Meaning
German Zeit für Ärger Time for Trouble
Japanese ほめられなかったジェームス James was Not Praised
Norwegian Nå blir det trøbbel Now There'll Be Trouble
Spanish James en problemas James in Trouble
Welsh Helynt a Hanner A Bother and a Half
Italian Aria di guai Air of Trouble
Dutch Moeilijkheden Difficulties
Finnish Veturi Vaikeuksissa Train Difficulties
Czech Cas na potize Time for Trouble
Slovenian Nesreča Nikoli Ne počiva Accidents Always Happen
Polish Kłopoty Troubles



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