ERS 70 - Norman the Mountain Diesel

ERS 70 - Norman the Mountain Diesel - Stuart & Ryan

Story Summaries by Christopher

Introduction by Ryan


When the book was first written, Vermat was introduced as a new character here.  However, in the rewritten version, I urged Stuart to allow me to introduce Vermat earlier, and have his flaws exposed over time and give him more of a sense of desperation to cling on.  I also chose to use the pompous Norman as a means of developing the new Mountain Railway Diesel into a slightly more rounded character, and to show that even Diesels can be vulnerable.

Once again, Stuart developed the storylines based upon his own research, finding real life incidents which took place on the Snowdon Mountain Railway, which have been overlooked for subsequent official Railway Series volumes...


The new Mountain Diesels settle down on the Culdee Fell Railway, but Vermat the Railcar has been the most problematic out of the three. Every time he is used something goes wrong, and though it is not entirely his fault, the Manager is considering taking him out of service completely if things do not improve. Vermat is angry and upset, and tries to work out a way to remain on the Mountain Railway...

While out of service, Vermat has had time to observe the yards properly, noting in particular how arrogant Norman is to the other engines, and remembers that Norman is just a fallible as him. This is proven correct when, one day, Norman's side-rods break suddenly and loses all braking power. His coach is saved, but Norman derails and causes a lot of damage to the track and the timetable. Vermat is delighted, especially when he is brought out again to do Norman's work – soon enough, he begins making plans to have Norman sent packing instead...

Norman is soon repaired and ready to return to work. However, beforehand, Vermat causes a small rockslide in the cutting beyond 'Devil's Back' but deliberately fails to inform Norman and the Manager about it. As a result, when Norman sets off with his train, his coach hits the stones and derails in the cutting. Norman is blamed, and he and Vermat argue about who was responsible – eventually Norman is taken off passenger duties, and Vermat feels sure that he has secured his own position.

Despite all his attempts to get rid of Norman, Vermat's trials have still not gone well, and the Manager plans to have him withdrawn after his last train of the day. Vermat is furious and, to spite the Manager, purposely breaks down up the mountain. Norman, the only engine available, is sent to take his passengers for him. This time Norman finishes the run with no problems, and the passengers and the Manager are all very pleased. The other engines are sorry for Norman, too, and all become friends again – with Vermat finally taking his leave of the Mountain Railway.