Characters: The Railway Series

Since its inception in 1945, the Railway Series has given birth to a multitude of characters, both engine and human alike. This page will strictly stay within the continuity of the books, entirely separate from the television show.
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    Engines of the North Western Railway 

The primary railway featured in the Railway Series. The NWR features a multitude of lines, run and worked by a multitude of engines.

Edward the Blue Engine, #2 (Furness Railway/Sharpe Stewart Large Seagull)

The first character introduced in the series, Edward was at first neglected and shafted for being smaller than the other engines, but eventually got his chance to run again after pity from his driver. Despite his old age and trial after trial of proving he still got it, he was recognized for being Really Useful and was repaired. Edward now spends his time at the Brendam Bay branch line, his very own.

Gordon the Big Engine, #4 (LNER A3)

Gordon's primary duty is pulling the Express, called the "Wild Nor'-Wester", from one end of the railway to the other, and sometimes all the way to the Mainland and London. His importance, size and seniority over other engines has made Gordon a boastful braggart, though he has gone through lessons of humility that make him likeable.

Henry the Green Engine, #3 (LMS "Black 5")

When Henry first started out, he was nothing but trouble. First was when he got himself locked in the Ballahoo tunnel for wanting to keep his paint clean, second was when he went on strike with the other big engines, and third was when his faultiness prompted the purchasing of special Welsh Coal. His crash with the Flying Kipper gave Henry a new lease on life after he was finally rebuilt with a new shape, and now works alongside Gordon on the main line, sometimes pulling the express or hauling freight.

Thomas the Tank Engine, #1 (LB&SCR E2 Billington tank engine)

Everyone's favorite Tank Engine was introduced in the second book, but was one of the first engines to work on the NWR, originally as a station pilot at Vicarstown, shunting coaches for the big engines. An incident where he almost crashed because of some troublesome trucks has allowed him to prove himself and eventually become Really Useful. Thomas now works at his own Branch, the Ffarquhar line, with his two coaches Annie and Clarabel. Other incidents have caused Thomas to mellow out from his cheeky personality, though he still maintains a small hint of it.

James the Red Engine, #5 (Hughes' Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Class 28)

After a disastrous accident on his first day, the then-black colored James was rescued by Thomas and was repaired to run again, with proper brake blocks and red paint. Despite his good intentions, James once again got ahead of himself and was benched in the shed until he was able to prove himself to The Fat Controller. After helping Gordon with the express, he became a good friend, though at the price of James becoming just as conceited and self-important as Gordon and Henry. Though he has learned lessons in humility, he maintains a small sense of vanity and arrogance, not the least because he's the only red engine in the NWR.

Percy the Small Engine, #6 (Avonside Industrial Saddle-Tank Engine)

When Gordon, Henry and James went on strike, and Edward was rushed off his feet with work and abuse from the big engines, the Fat Controller needed another engine to be station pilot at Tidmouth. His answer was in the form of Percy, a small green Saddle-Tank who quickly went to work and put the big engines in their place. His success has made him forever cheeky, naive and tricky, and made him the butt-monkey of jokes among the big engines after one of his tricks backfired. Eventually, the work became heavier on the main line and Percy couldn't cope, so the Fat Controller moved Percy to the Ffarquhar line and work alongside Thomas, primarily hauling freight. His good intentions and naivete often get the better of him, making him extremely accident-prone, but in the end he proves himself to be Really Useful.

Toby the Tram Engine, #7 (Great Eastern Railway 'Wisbech' Steam Tram J70)

Toby started out as a tragedy of the times; though he and his coach Henrietta still could work, majority of it was eaten up by the buses and lorries of the roads on his old railway. His new lease on life came when the Fat Controller, whom he previously encountered while on holiday, requested his presence when Thomas was in trouble with the law for running on the Ffarquhar quarry lines without cow catchers. Since then, Toby has been maintained as an invaluable member of the Ffarquhar line, with his experience and kindheartedness.

Duck the Great Western Engine, #8 (Great Western Railway Pannier Tank 57XX Class)

There are two ways of doing things: the Great Western way, or the wrong way.

By the mid 1950's, traffic and work on the NWR was increasing dramatically. Percy could not cope with the work at Tidmouth, so when the Fat Controller transferred him to the Ffarquhar line, another engine was brought in as station pilot; Montague, usually known as Duck, from the Great Western Railway. Despite hassling from the big engines, Duck made it clear he'll stand no shenanigans from them. Perhaps Duck's greatest trial came in the form of a visiting Diesel, who took Duck's manner the wrong way and was determined to get him sacked. Diesel's plan was thwarted when the Fat Controller found it out. Duck's hard work eventually had him promoted to the Arlesburgh line, his own branch. Proud of his Great Western heritage, he is a dependable, hard working engine.

  • Berserk Button: Comparing his Motor Mouth to a quacking duck.
  • Break the Haughty: What Diesel pulls on him.
  • Bully Hunter: Has helped Percy get back on the big engines for ordering him about. He also doesn't stand any nonsense from the troublesome trucks.
  • Bullying The Dragon: For the trucks, things won't go well for them if they play tricks on Duck.
  • Catch Phrase: "Beg Pardon Sir..."
  • Humiliation Conga: As if the trucks forcing him to crash into a barber shop wasn't enough, the angry owner decided to shave and lather him!
  • Misplaced Nationalism: Or at least something very like it. In his debut episode he's fond of claiming that there are two ways of doing things, "the Great Western way or the wrong way". Fortunately he got over it quite quickly.
  • Motor Mouth: The whole plotline of "Donald's Duck" kicked off after Donald told him to zip it.
  • Nice Guy: Despite his moments of boastfulness of being Great Western, he is a mild-mannered and respectable engine.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: His given name is 'Montague,' but most call him 'Duck,' after his tendency to waddle on the rails. Henry, Gordon, and James have quacked at him in the past.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: He is very proud of his Great Western heritage and is very vocal about it.
    Duck: There are two ways of doing things: the Great Western way or the wrong way. I'm Great Western and—
    Other Engines: Don't we know it!
    • Rightly Self-Righteous: But as he puts it, "The Great Western Way" implies that he's a reliable engine who works hard and gets the job done without any complaints.

Donald and Douglas-The Scottish Twins, #9 and #10 (Caledonian 812 Class)

As work on the NWR continued to get heavier, the Fat Controller decided to order a goods engine from Scotland...only to end up having two. He set them to work anyway, deciding which one to send back, but both were determined to stay. Though both had their successes, it was marred by the worries of Douglas being sent back and scrapped which resulted him in misplacing an important coach, Donald crashing into a signal-box, and Douglas destroying a spiteful brakevan. Things finally came to a head in the winter season where the decision was made, but the committee of engines, combined with the hard work of the twins keeping the lines clear in the snow, has convinced the Fat Controller to keep both of them. From then on, the the blue-painted Scottish twins do a variety of work, running on both the main line and the various branch lines on the NWR.

  • Adaptation Dye-Job: In the books, they were painted blue after arriving at Sodor. With three blue engines already, the TV producers wisely decided to keep their more distinctive black paint.
  • Berserk Button: Making fun of their whistles as Gordon and Henry found out.
  • Bully Hunter: Donald who didn't like how The Spiteful Brake Van had caused trouble with Douglas' trains. Also, the twins won't let the troublesome trucks play any tricks on them.
  • Bullying The Dragon: The trucks often get this from the twins.
  • Noble Fugitive
  • Scotland
  • Single-Minded Twins
  • Trigger: Do not like to talk about scrapping.
  • Trickster Twins: Notice that they are the almost the only characters labeled by name and number: Hatt specifically insisted on this after one too many Twin Switch gambits.
  • Twin Switch: In "The Missing Coach".
  • Violent Glaswegian: "Spite Douggie would ye? Take That!"

Daisy, the Diesel Rail-Car (Metro-Cammell Diesel Multiple Unit Class 101/102)

When Thomas suffered an accident involving a lack of a driver, a careless cleaner, a station-master's house, a garden bush, and breakfast, Daisy was brought in to handle passenger duties. Her pride in being an up-to-date diesel thought her superior and arrogant, neglecting various duties that "were bad for her swerves". Further incidents involving a bull did not help her reputation, but after Percy himself got into an accident, she was determined to work hard, and thanks to Toby's good word, was kept on as a passenger train across the Ffarquhar line.

Bill and Ben, the Tank Engine Twins (Bagnall Saddle-Tank engines)

This pair of twins works primarily at the China Clay Works and Brendam Bay along the Brendam Bay Line, hauling freight for engines on the main line to take. Though hard working, they are extremely mischievous and love playing tricks on newcomers to the line, an example being Gordon when he was forced to detour onto here. Edward is one of the few that keep them line.

BoCo the Diesel (Class 28 Metro-Vick Diesel Electric Type 2)

One day during work, Bill and Ben discovered that their trucks were taken. An examination of a patch of oil has led to the twins concluding that "a Diseasel" took them, and went to Wellsworth to find BoCo had taken them by accident. Edward reassured BoCo that they meant no harm, and BoCo is one of the few that can keep Bill and Ben in line, like when he "threatened" to take their trucks if they continued teasing Gordon when he was forced to detour. BoCo primarily works on the Brendam Bay line alongside Edward, and sometimes helps on the main line if needed, as one of the most versatile of the Fat Controller's engines.

Bear the Hymek Diesel (British Rail Class 35 "Hymek")

D7101 came to the NWR on loan at a time when non-NWR diesels were treated with great hostility. Though 7101 maintained his manners, his companion 199 did not share his sentiments. During a trial run, both 7101 and 199 failed in pulling their trains, and had to be helped by Henry. 7101 was the only one that helped Henry and was able to strike a conversation with him afterward, admiring him for the monumental achievement of pulling two dead diesels and both their trains while malfunctioning. His kindness paid off; 199 was sent away and 7101 stayed, now nicknamed Bear for his the tendency of his engine to growl, which the diesel took in stride. Bear works on the main line, accepted as a friend by big engines, especially Henry, James and the Scottish Twins.

Oliver the Western Engine, #11 (Great Western Railway 14xx Tank Engine)

Oliver was perhaps the only engine to come to the NWR unexpectedly. At a time when steam engines were being persecuted and scrapped in favor of Diesels, Oliver was instead rescued by his driver and fireman to escape. A chance encounter with Douglas was a turn of good fortune, who aided in Oliver's escape. Oliver was welcomed by the Fat Controller to work on the Arlesburgh line alongside Duck and the Scottish Twins. His heroism and escape has gone to his head, and an accident at a turntable has made him more humble.

Mavis the Quarry Diesel (British Railways Class 04 Shunter)

Mavis is a diesel in the Ffarquhar line quarry tasked with shunting and arranging trucks for Toby. Arguably the youngest engine in the entire NWR fleet, she often had her own ideas about doing things and applied them contrary to Toby's advice. Things came to a head when advice from a boastful Daisy led her to get stuck and disrupt traffic along the line, leading her to be rescued by Toby. When she repaid the favor later on though, she was redeemed, and was allowed to be friends with the others and venture outside the quarry.

  • Acquired Situational Narcissism: Happened to her when she took heed to Daisy's word on diesels are better than steam engines
  • Mouthy Kid: Started off arrogant and refused to follow Toby's orders. She tamed after her re-innovations to how things worked caused serious problems.
  • Tomboy

Pip and Emma, the High-Speed Train (BR Class 48 High Speed Train)

The newest and most modern additions to the NWR, Pip and Emma are first introduced as a high-speed train that become acquaintances to Gordon when they visited from the mainland. Their ability has convinced The Fat Controller to purchase them for himself to work on the main line, and now are tasked alongside Gordon to take passengers on another express, as well as make incredibly long journeys from Sodor to London.

    Engines of the Skarloey Railway 

First introduced in the 10th book "Four Little Engines", this Narrow Gauge railway operates independently from the NWR, though Main Line NWR engines have interacted with them in conversation. Each engine has a real-life counterpart on the Talyllyn railway, with a corresponding name.

Skarloey, #1 (Fletcher-Jennings 1864 Class C)

The railway's namesake was in fact one of the engines that got it started off the ground. Skarloey is introduced as an old, patient and wise engine who has seen better days after decades upon decades of service. After running a train back and forth on the line as an emergency engine, Skarloey proved he still had what it took and was repaired to run better than ever.

Rheneas, #2 (Fletcher-Jennings 1866 Class Bb)

During the early years of the Skarloey railway, Rheneas was the engine who was more mature and reliable, compared to the excitable, jumpy Skarloey. After a couple of escapades, the duo became firm friends who watched each other's back. Rheneas himself would not make an official appearance until the 17th Book "Gallant Old Engine", as in-between the 10th and 17th books he was away for a massive repair and overhaul. Together with Skarloey, they primarily pull passenger trains and serve as the voice of reasons to educate newcomers to the Skarloey Railway.

Sir Handel, #3 (Hughes Falcon)

When Rheneas was away to be repaired, and Skarloey was benched for emergencies only, Sir Handel was one of the engines brought in. Much like Gordon though, he prides himself for only pulling the best of the best, being disdainful to coaches that aren't "real" and loathing the thought of pulling Trucks. His behavior doesn't help when Gordon himself gives bad advice to shirk his duties. Incidents like this improved his behavior immensely and now Sir Handel is a wiser engine, though with a small sense of stubbornness.

Peter Sam, #4 (Kerr Stuart Tattoo)

Though Sir Handel had a bad first day, the second engine, Peter Sam, proved to be a better behaved engine, treating the coaches kinder and being very eager to please. As the youngest of the Thin Controller's engines, Peter Sam had an air of cockiness and naivete about him that led him to get into trouble on more than one occasion; whether it was fooling himself in front of Henry, or ending up into an accident thanks in part to Sir Handel's lies of shirking his duties. The accident however was a blessing in disguise, as his funnel was soon replaced with an entirely new one, making him one of the most powerful engines on the Skarloey Railway.

Rusty, #5 (Ruston & Hornsby Diesel)

Rusty is the only Diesel on the Skarloey Railway, and one of the few (at the time he was introduced) that is genuinely nice towards steam engines. Rusty arrived while Skarloey was away being repaired and returned to find an almost completely different railway thanks to the little Diesel, instantly taking a liking to Rusty. Rusty primarily hauls freight and does repair work on the Skarloey Railway's lines.

Duncan, #6 (Andrew Barclay)

After Peter Sam's accident, another engine was brought in as a spare. Duncan, while hardworking, was rude, bouncy and short-tempered. He seemed to have one accident after another because of his tendency to "rock and roll", but he saw fault in everyone but himself for all his troubles. He did not get along with Rusty in particular (Especially after a boastful James gave him ideas), but an accident where he was saved by him and another incident where he gave passengers a hard time has knocked him off his high horse. Though Duncan occasionally relapses back into rudeness, he means well and works very hard.

Duke (George England and Co.)

Duke was once part of one of the old railways on Sodor in the late 1800's. Being named after the then-Duke of Sodor and bar none the longest engine to serve on that railway. Together with two other engines, Stuart and Falcon, they served on the railway for many years, giving the two younger engines lessons on their personality. Sadly, when the railway was closed in 1947, Duke was the only one not bought and was left in his shed for many years, until he was rediscovered in 1969. Duke was brought back to run on the Skarloey Railway, reunited with Stuart (Peter Sam) and Falcon (Sir Handel).

Ivo Hugh, #7

By the mid 1990's, the Skarloey Railway's traffic and popularity was at an all time high. In response, this engine was built, and this most recent addition to the Skarloey Railway was named after the Chief Engineer of the Maintenance Crew, much to his surprise and honor. Ivo Hugh has yet to have any stories with him, for as of 2012, there haven't been any additional books on the Skarloey Railway.

    Engines of the Arlesdale Railway 
The Arlesdale Railway is a small railway that runs from the end of the Arlesburgh line to hills and quarries which supply ballast for the NWR. Duck, Oliver, Donald and Douglas frequently interact with them. It is based largely on the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway, and its locomotives named after local rivers, Esk, Mite and Irt, diesel engine Perkins, and Northern Rock.


Rex is similar to Percy in that he's cheeky and a big know-it-all who can accomplish anything. He is the first small engine to be introduced, and the first one that Duck meets.


Mike's personality is best described as a cross between Gordon and James; he is red and is conceited and haughty, believing himself to be the most important engine in the Railway. Mike is one of the few engines to prefer hauling freight as opposed to passengers. Understandable as these Trucks, unlike those on the NWR and Skarloey Railways, are more behaved and tame.


Bert is the youngest among the initial three small engines, and is thus often bossed around by Rex and Mike. Though Bert intends to be a good worker, he is temperamental if he is mistreated.


Frank is one of the few diesels on the Arlesdale Railway. Frank is a hard worker and values teamwork, though can get grumpy if things don't go his way.


Jock is the most recent addition to the Arlesdale Railway and one of the few Yellow-colored engines in the series. The yellow is what inspired is name, as Douglas was reminded of similar engines back in Scotland. Being the most powerful Arlesdale engine, Jock thought nothing of teamwork, but quickly learned the value of it, and is eager to help when the workload of the other engines gets too stressful.

  • The Ace: Jock is by far the strongest of the Small Railway engines, and people often come to the railway just to see him.

    Engines of the Culdee Fell Railway 

One of the best examples of one-off characters, the Culdee Fell Railway runs from down the Skarloey Railway up to the mountains, making it a Mountain Railway. Because of its setting and stringent rules compared with the NWR, Skarloey and Arlesdale, the CFR thus far has only been featured in one book. Though at least 8 engines are said to run on the CFR, only 3 got a story in the CFR's one-off volume.

Godred, #1

The former #1 of the Culdee Fell, he was named after a king, which made him extremely conceited, arrogant and overestimated his abilities as a Mountain Engine. On opening day of the CFR, Godred the mountain. Godred was completely wrecked, and as the CFR couldn't afford to repair him, he was kept in the back of the shed until all of his parts were used and he was least according to Culdee's story anyway.

Culdee, #4

The first Mountain Engine to be introduced, Culdee gave exposition to the Skarloey Railway's engines about how his experiences on the CFR made him the engine he was then, which Sir Handel and Duncan quickly took to heart. Culdee shows initiative and massive promise in his work, but also knows when to take things carefully on the CFR.

Patrick (Formerly Lord Harry), #6

One of three recent arrivals to the CFR, Lord Harry was the only one among the batch that had troubles; much like Godred, he was reckless and rough with the coaches, which led him to be severely scolded by the CFR's manager and his name taken. #6 however redeemed himself immensely after saving hikers and braving a severe storm along the mountains, leading him to be renamed Patrick, after one of the saved hikers.

Other engines mentioned are:
  • Ernest, #2
  • Wilfred, #3
  • Shane Dooiney, #5 (by number only in Mountain Engines and by name in The Island of Sodor: Its People, History and Railways)
  • Alaric, #7
  • Eric, #8

    Miscellaneous Engines 


A blue tender engine who visited Sodor in 1922.


Another blue tender engine who visited Sodor in 1922.

The Foreign Engine, (LMS "Patriot")

A tender engine from the London Midland and Scottish Railway. Also known as the Big City Engine.

Diesel, (BR Class 08)

When Diesel came on trial to the North Western Railway, he boasts about diesel being "revolutionary". As a result, he got into an accident with some old, rusty trucks, which made the trucks sing rude songs about him. But Diesel believes that Duck had made the trucks laugh at him and decided to pay him out by making rumors that Duck made names for Gordon, Henry, and James, but then got too big for his buffers and told lies about Henry. Diesel was found out by The Fat Controller and is sent back to the Other Railway in disgrace. That is until he is brought back to help on Thomas' Branch Line while Percy is in repairs, much to Thomas and Toby's displeasure. After destroying some trucks, Diesel is to be sent away again, but during so, he came to Thomas' rescue by putting back Clarabel back on the rails. Despite returning to the Other Railway, Diesel is always welcome on Sodor.

D4711, (BR Class 40)

During Stepney's visit, D4711 was sent to Sodor to assist the engines with goods and express work, but made snobbish insults to the other engines by saying they were out-of-date. He received his comeuppance when an inspector's bowler hat jammed in his air intake, leaving Duck and Stepney to take the Express for him.

D199, (BR Class 46 "Peak")

A rude diesel engine from the Other Railway. He along with D7101 visited Sodor and made himself an enemy of the steam engines stating that "steam engines spoil our image", but was shut up by the engines and D7101. The next day, he failed with a train of oil tankers at a signal box, blocking a crossing, and Henry, who had a jammed regulator, had to pull D199, the oil tankers, D7101, and the passengers to the next station. The Fat Controller wasn't pleased with D199 and sent him away in disgrace, but D7101 (later named "Bear") stayed on Sodor.

Old Stuck-Up a.k.a. Diesel 40125, (BR Class 40)

Diesel 40125 was shown around the yard by BoCo, but when he saw the steam engines in the shed, he refused to go further and insulted the railway for keeping them in service, which made a furious James refer him as "Old Stuck-Up". He received his comeuppance when he crashed into the back of the sheds after slipping on cleaning fluid on the rails. He is sent away after being given a stern talking to by The Fat Controller.

Wilbert the Forest Engine, (Hunslet Austerity)

Sixteen, (Hunslet Austerity)

    Rolling Stock 

The rolling stock consists of passenger coaches, trucks, vans, and tankers.

Annie and Clarabel, (LBSCR coaches No. 100)

Two of Thomas' faithful coaches which he was rewarded with after saving James from a nasty accident. They now are carried by Thomas on his branchline.

  • Single-Minded Twins: For the large part. Interestingly most merchandise tries to remedy this by giving Annie a timid expression and Clarabel a cocky smile.
  • Those Two Girls
  • Trigger: Hate being separated from Thomas for a long time.
  • Women Are Wiser: Often have to keep the more rambunctious Thomas in line. They are fussy little coaches however and sometimes share his cheeky, excitable streak. He and Percy also spend a lot of time having to soothe their hurt feelings.

Henrietta, (GER Wisbech & Upwell passenger coach No. 7)

Toby's faithful coach who worked with him in their old railway

Toad The Brakevan, #53681, (GWR 20-ton brakevan)

Oliver's trusty brakevan who escaped scrap with him. A very gentlemanly brakevan (always referring to the engines as Mr. and Miss), he keeps Oliver's trucks in order, but can sometimes have spells of over-imagination.

  • Bully Hunter: Helped Oliver put the trucks in their place after they wouldn't stop teasing him.
  • Nice Guy
  • Verbal Tic: Tends to address people with the pronoun "Mr." and "Miss".

Troublesome Trucks

The rolling stocks who always annoys and plays tricks on the engines, mostly causing their accidents.

The Spiteful Brakevan, (BR 20-ton brakevan)

A brakevan who caused trouble with Donald and Douglas when they first arrived on The Island of Sodor. He was then broken by Douglas up on Gordon's Hill.

S.C. Ruffey, (7-plank mineral wagon)

A ballast wagon who had made fun of Oliver's accident with the turntable along with the other trucks, but Oliver sought retribution later on.

  • Jerkass
  • Karmic Death: Scruffey was pulled apart by Oliver, and when the Fat Controller revealed that it was in poor condition, he was scrapped.

    Non-rail vehicles 

Terence the Tractor

  • Fantastic Racism: Received this from Thomas, but after rescuing him from the snow, he gained his respect. In "Toby Takes the Road", he displays a bit of this by mocking the engines of having their rails scrapped and be more like him.
  • Nice Guy

Bertie the Bus

Trevor the Traction Engine

Harold the Helicopter

George the Steamroller



    Human characters 

The Fat Controller

''The Island Of Sodor: Its People, History and Railways'' reveals that the NWR has had three different controllers from the Hatt family, the first Topham Hatt, Charles Topham Hatt and Stephen Topham Hatt. The first was awarded a baronetcy in Sodor.

The Thin Controller

Controller of the Skarloey Railway