The Railway Series portrays Sodor as a place
caught in a time-warp where everything is quaint and old-fashioned. However,
whilst there’s some strong storytelling to be taken from the events of the past, there’s a lot going for that
of the present day as well. I took this opportunity to play with the engines
who would be operating on the Mainland – Dick and Dilworth, the Class 66 Diesels who operate for NW Freight, and Pip
and Emma, who would be undergoing ‘secret trials’ for the Fat Controller’s Railway as he geared up for buying
them out in 2011. All four stories are based on real life events.
& THE SPECIAL RED DIESEL
This story is based on an incident from December 2005 when a Diesel locomotive hauling a Railtour was rescued by a Farmer and a supply of Red Diesel
after running out of fuel on the Main Line. This story sees the official launch
of NW Freight, the Fat Controller’s Freight distribution arm which will see goods delivered across the Island of Sodor
and on the Mainland as well. Heading up operations are Dick and Dilworth, and
to celebrate the launch, the Fat Controller wants Dick to haul a special train that evening.
However, before he does, he has to go to the Oil Refinery to collect tankers from Kaiser – and there he sees
a load of barrels being loaded into a van, Kaiser explains that these are full of special Red Diesel which normal engines
cannot get. Dick is furious – he considers himself special and fumes that
he should have special Diesel fuel. But when he takes the special train out that
evening, he ends up using more fuel than he had previously intended – and instead of refuelling at the Works Station
as planned, he ends up stranded on the Main Line. Luckily, a Farmer is nearby
and comes to their aid with a tank of special Red Diesel. At first Dick is excited
at the prospect, but his elation turns to disgust when he actually tries the Red Diesel and finds it is revolting –
he soon finds out the reason it is special is because it’s cheap!
This was a fusion of two events, one was based on an incident at a Main Line
station where an HST was unable to move because of a swan sitting in the middle of the line, and the other was from an incident
in Glasgow which involved a dog sitting in the road, holding up traffic - only to walk away when someone carried it across! Pip and Emma are returning from London and become held up at a station – a swan
is lying in the middle of the line and refusing to move. When they finally think
they can, the swan saunters back onto the railway line and sits in their path again.
Eventually they call for a vet, thinking the swan must be in pain or injured – only to find she’s very
much all right, and ready to fly off into the sunset! Pip and Emma return to
Tidmouth very late indeed, and come on the receiving end of Dick’s taunts. But
Pip is ready for him and comments that whilst it was difficult watching their Driver deal with a bird for a while –
it would be even more difficult for them having to spend the evening with a pair of ‘bird brains’...
DILWORTH & THE PROTESTERS
Of the two Class 66 Diesels, I think of Dilworth as being the more placid, laid
back and ‘led’ one – with Dick being the overbearing nark. He
was somewhat perfect for this role, where I capitalised upon an event from 2010 at a Power Station, where a group of protestors
bombarded a Class 66 loco and it's train and wouldn't allow it to move for two days... Dilworth is sent to collect coal from
a colliery and on his way out, he is confronted by a group of protesters who refuse to let him leave. Eventually, the Police arrive to disperse the crowd and Dilworth is able to depart again. When he returns to the Depot, Pip and Emma are less than sympathetic and chant, “What do I want? To run my train on time! When do I want it? NOW!!!”
TRAIN TO GLASGOW CENTRAL
This was based on an incident from January of 2010, where Fox's train was cancelled and passengers needed to board another service. This one is pure wishful
thinking - but the title is taken from a Billy Connolly song. When a train cannot
proceed further than Preston due to a signal failure, Pip and Emma’s services are requested to help bring passengers
from there to Glasgow Central. Both engines relish the chance to help and rush
off to Preston to save the day. When they return to Sodor, Dick remarks that
they had to make up for their incident with the swan with a trip to Glasgow – and expects Dilworth to join in the taunting,
only for him to agree that Pip and Emma did a fine job of getting the passengers home.
And although things soon returned to normal, the two HSTs were pleased to know that at least one of the 66s had some
sense in them!