ERS 118 - The Two Branch Line Engines

ERS 118 - The Two Branch Line Engines - Christopher

Following on from the Ffarquhar/Ulfstead extension volumes, I thought it nice to truly show how strong Thomas and Percy's friendship has developed when they try to maintain the reputation of their Branch after a few unfortunate events.

Based loosely from another Annual story by Christopher Awdry, Thomas spends the night at Tidmouth Sheds where Gordon and Henry boast about their reputations of being proud Main Line engines. But it doesn't last long when Gordon breaks down on the turntable and Thomas has to come and sort things out before returning home to his own Branch – enjoying the big engine's folly enormously!

Workmen are busy maintaining the tunnel on Thomas's Branch, but on one occasion they leave their tools on the track by accident. It is most unfortunate, too, that Percy runs over them while delivering some trucks down the line, derailing his train inside the tunnel. With help from Douglas, the men and winching tackles, they haul the trucks out one by one along the sleepers for the bBeakdown Crane to rerail them again, which causes a terrible delay on the Branch as a result.
Based on an incident in New Mills Central, 1979, the rescue operation was roughly based on the original salvaging from the event.

Thomas is pleased that Percy isn't hurt but becomes annoyed when the Big Engines start teasing him about being late for a change. Thomas works harder than ever to maintain his reliability again, but his rushing about loosens a weak rail near the river bridge and, bumping along the sleepers, he uses careful strategy to avoid plunging his train into the river below.
The incident used happened in Friezeland, 1929, when an engine derailed by poor track-work and was spun right round facing the direction in which it had come.

After Thomas's latest incident, the Branch Line is given thorough track maintenance where an Inspector travels on Thomas and Percy's trains to check on the performance on both engines and track. However, a broken coupling on Percy's train nearly scuttles their chances until Rocky the Skip-Lorry arrives at the right moment to “donate” some chains which suit as a temporary solution. As such, the train keeps to the, and Thomas and Percy are praised by the Inspector on a job well done.
For fans of the classic Ealing Comedy films, Percy's coupling event was loosely based from The Titfield Thunderbolt, where before skip lorries, that engine had to use the rival steamroller's steering chain mechanism for a replacement coupling.