Christopher Awdry wrote two books in 2001 about Railway Safety, using the Thomas & Friends
characters, for educational purposes – both were not made widely available however for purchase. Both were very good at getting the point across in a way that children could understand, and put strong
emphasis upon the consequences of messing around on railway lines. I thought
it’d make an excellent premise for an ERS book. During the writing process,
there were legitimate concerns from some that it could be seen as preachy and heavily moralistic – however, I made it
my mission to make sure that these worries were unfounded and all would be well.
CAUGHT IN THE HEADLIGHTS
This story was based on the age old incident – there’s untold amounts of people who
drive, walk and run across level crossings, giving little or no heed to locomotive crews and the danger they are putting themselves
in. Network Rail spend millions on advertising campaigns urging people to take
care and not jump the crossings when the barriers are down – however, some people still continue to do so and put themselves
and others at risk. This story sees Spartan, the Class 60 Diesel, coming into
contact with one of these particular individuals and almost having a collision. This
spurs the Fat Controller and other railway officials from across the island to launch a Railway Safety Campaign to raise awareness.
Wendell is chosen to be the official engine of the Rail Safety Campaign and is painted in a mock
Police livery. Whilst he’s waiting for the first publicity launch, he’s
reversed into a siding near to the little engines’ wharf, where Rheneas recants a story from the old days where some
boys stole an old truck and began racing it down the line. The truck derailed
and sent the boys flying into the bushes, causing some to sustain injury. This
story was based on a true life event from Corris
Railway in the 1800s, where a group of children hijacked a slate truck and took it for a joyride down the line.
This story was based on the incident from May 8th 2010, taking place at Thurston,
where a man was nearly killed by a 70mph Express because he was too engrossed in a Rail Tour coming the other way to notice
the commuter train behind him! Whilst a Rail Safety event is going on at the
Works Station, a group of enthusiasts gather to watch a Rail Tour return to the Mainland.
Robert becomes concerned with how the people are behaving themselves and how freely they’re walking over the
railway line, and calls them ‘vidiots’ – and one gets too close for comfort as Daphne powers through with
an Express train in the other direction. The man scurries away out of sight –
but Robert knows that the children have learned a lesson about rail safety first hand through observing what not to do!
LEARN FROM THE NAVVIES
This story was based on one from Bad Days For Thomas And His Friends, the railway safety
book published by Christopher Awdry. For one of the last events, the Tall Controller
invites some children to take a rail safety journey with Mr Hugh and PC Len on the Skarloey Railway. When they stop to look for hazards that Mr Hugh and the men had laid out earlier that day, some of the
children hear sniggering in the bushes. Mr Hugh and PC Len go up to investigate
and find two youths getting ready to push a shopping trolley onto the railway line.
PC Len apprehends them both and gives them a stern talking to about railway safety.
The event is hailed a success, and Skarloey is proud of the ‘navvies’ for their observation and preventing
what could have been a very nasty accident.