ERS 44 - Express Engines

ERS 44 - Express Engines - Ryan (1996)


This is another story that came from an issue of Heritage Railway in 1999, taking place on The Jacobite service between Fort William and Mallaig.  To remain faithful to the actual event, this story takes place on the Peel Godred Branch Line – running into the mountains of Sodor.  In the story, Henry is running a special excursion train into the mountains, and being filmed from above by Harold.  However, the Director of the film demands a close-up of Henry as he passes by, and flies in far too close to the train – causing a blowback in the firebox.  This is essentially the same as what happened to the crew and locomotive of that Jacobite service.



This was the first story to feature Sodor Castle.  The Fat Controller decides to expand his Express services and drafts in a new locomotive to help Gordon.  Gordon is somewhat perturbed by his presence, and is clearly troubled by something that the Fat Controller has told him.   Meanwhile, James raises the subject of the standard livery now that the railway has been re-privatised, recalling how dull he found the old ‘standard blue’ from when he first arrived.  However, a forklift accident in the yard leaves him covered in blue house paint – and puts a grin back on Gordon’s face.  But all the same, he’s less than enthused to find that he’ll be doing James’ work whilst he’s at the Works...



Gordon’s rivalry with Sodor Castle intensifies as work goes on at the Big Station to lay new track.  The engines are to use a new ‘whistle code’ to let the Signalman know their requirements or intentions.  Gordon turns this to his advantage and tricks Sodor Castle into believing there is an ‘Express Whistle’ – four short blasts to let the Signalman know to clear a road for him.  However, when Sodor Castle uses it, he causes confusion – the Signalman think he’s tried blowing an ‘emergency whistle’ of three blasts.  Gordon tries to brush it off as a slight misunderstanding, but Sodor Castle is by no means convinced and is determined to get his own back...



After a heated debate over the legacies of speed held by their LNER and GWR brethren, Sodor Castle and Gordon agree to hold ‘time trials’ to see who is fastest.  Sodor Castle puts in a fine performance, but Gordon’s Driver is a little more apprehensive with the big blue engine.  Gordon takes no notice and forges valiantly on, but is soon met with the indignity of suffering a hot box and being taken off the train.  It’s here that he learns why he has been demoted from Express duties and why Sodor Castle has come – Gordon is going to be overhauled and given a new boiler.  The two engines make up their quarrel, and double-head the Express to the Works Station on the day of Gordon’s withdrawal from service.  But despite warming to the newcomer, Gordon knows he’ll always be the best!