Tales From The Other Railway

Triple Threat

Triple Threat

Diesel, 'Arry and Bert get more than they bargain for when they take Old Stuck Up's express...

Old Stuck-Up was lounging in a siding. It was a perfectly pleasant day and the Express had been relatively empty. The passengers didn't even smell as bad as usual.

"Everyone else gets so out of breath," he gloated, "but I don't care. I just say they're being lazy!"

"Get the Thin Git to make you pull horrid, dirty goods trains all day long!" suggested Diesel grumpily. "You'll feel a far worse engine."

"Yeah," agreed Arry. "We diesel shunters never get any of the cushy jobs."

"There's a reason for that," scoffed Old Stuck-Up. "You little engines have neither the sophistication nor intelligence necessary to accept such responsibility."

"I resent that!" said Bert, wondering why the brick wall in front of his siding wouldn't go away.

"You just don't get it," Old Stuck-Up went on, "pulling the Express requires great strength, quick thinking and a wide knowledge of world soups. You lot wouldn't last three stations pulling that train."

Perhaps it was lucky for him that the shunters didn't have the energy to reply.

The next day, Old Stuck-Up was getting ready for his morning Express, but his Driver found him hard to move.

"Oooh, my tanks," he groaned, "they feel so...working-class!"

They quickly found the problem. Someone had filled Old Stuck-Up's fuelling station with alcopops, and he could hardly move for wincing.

While BoZo took Old Stuck-Up away to be mended, Cromwell was asked to pull the Express, but just before he left for the Big Fat Station, Cromwell was ill too.

"Poor Mr Bottomsly," he moaned, "someone filled his fueling station with Bran Flakes. He hasn't shut up since."

The men tried to get Bowler ready instead, but he too was unwell, complaining that his soy fuel had been replaced with the real thing.

"We've no spare engines except Spamcan," the Inspector told the Thin Git, "and he's still on the Express Black List for that incident last year. Shall I ask Derek?"

"Oh god, no," said the Thin Git at once. "I'd rather not have my richest passengers blown up today, thank you very much. We still have Candy and Sugar, don't we?"

"You mean Pip and Emma?"

"Oh, whatever. Can't they just take all of today's Expresses at once?"

The Inspector shrugged his shoulders. "The two of them with a push start might manage," he said. "They should at least get as far as the banking district. They're sure to have a nice light train from then on."

So the three diesel shunters arranged all the delayed Express coaches into one long train. The rich passengers happily climbed aboard while the shunters rested; Diesel nearest the train, Bert in the middle and Arry at the front.

There was only one problem.

"Where in buggery are Candy and Sugar?" cried the Thin Git.

"Nursing a pair of severe shampoo-induced tank-aches, sir," piped up Diesel. "OK, boys, let's go!"

Then slowly, the three shunters began to move, dragging the long Express behind them.

"C'mon! C'mon!" barked Arry impatiently.

"We're doin' it! We're doin' it!" growled Bert.

"Pull, halfwits! Pull, halfwits!" grumbled Diesel to the others.

Before anyone could stop them, the heavy train drew out of the platform and out of sight. The engines couldn't go as fast as Old Stuck-Up, and boy, did the passengers mind. They knew that Diesel, Arry and Bert were going to make them very late for their money sandwich lunches.

"'Ooray! We's Express Engines!" cackled Bert. "Dis is the best thing in the world evah!"

"Oi'll second that," said Arry. "Brillo plan o' yours, Diesel, gettin' yer Driver t'spike the fuellin' depot. They're all sick as parrots!"

"Oh, it was nothing, really," replied Diesel, "at least not to someone as marvellous as I am. Now power on, comrades. Let's show those snooty sods that we shunters rule the rails!"

But Expresses are not like bumping trucks from siding A to siding B. They don't stop at all the stations and the engines don't have a chance to have a tea-break. This didn't stop the ignorant shunters from trying, but everytime they did, the Station Masters would throw things at them until they moved on.

"Stupid b*****ds!" growled Diesel. "We're bloody exhausted! Why won't they let us stop?"

"It's not me!" protested Bert. "Oi just 'ad me annual bath last month!"

Soon the three began to feel hot and bothered. They struggled pathetically up Red Tape Hill, but they refused to let the strain tell.

"I knew we'd never stick there," boasted Diesel, as both his side-rods fell off. "Old Stuck-Up's never going to hear the end of this when we get back!"

But the hill proved too much for Arry. As they coasted down the other side, his wheels melted into a gooey paste and stuck firmly to the rails, bringing the whole train to an abrupt halt.

"Well done, you great clod!" said Diesel. "We're late enough as it is!"

"Oi blame you fer dis," grumbled Arry, as the Driver chiselled him free. "Yer the one 'oo wouldn't let me 'ave a booze-break!"

"Just shup up and keep your brakes off! We can't have far to go now!"

This made things even harder for the other two, but they struggled angrily on, twin clouds of diesel fumes filling the air.

Everyone knows that coaches are over-sensitive harpies, but Express coaches are worst of all. When Diesel and Bert's fumes engulfed them, they were positively livid.

"Filthy swines!" they cried. "Let's pay them out!"

All the way along the line the coaches bumped the three shunters like nobody's business. Needless to say it made the journey even more uncomfortable.

"Cor blimey!" said Bert. "Dey're worse than our trucks!"

"For once, you're absolutely right!" winced Diesel, as he felt his back buffers being tenderized. Poor Arry had no cheap booze left in his tanks to say anything.

They were just passing the Works when Bert found he could go no further. Diesel could not pull the heavy train on his own and the cavalcade began to slow down once more.

"Oh no, you don't!" he growled and began bumping Bert even more viciously than the coaches did.

"Ow! Stoppit, Diesel! Ow! My brain hurts! Argh! An' the rest o'me an' all! Ow-ow!"

"I don't care if your chin stubble hurts! We're going to show those Express Engines who's boss even if I have to knock you two to bits to do it! NOW GET YOUR FAT ARSES MOVING, YOU MORONS!"

All of the sudden stops, bumping and delays were annoying the passengers greatly, but one man in the front carriage was at breaking point. He had bought some tea from the dining car and was just settling down with a flask of homemade soup when Diesel began his temper tantrum. The tea flew in the air and covered the man from head to foot. This was the last straw.

"Those bloody engines!" he roared, tearing open his window, "Let's see how you like it, eh?" and he threw his flask of soup straight at Diesel. It hit him square on the non-existant head and burst open, sending boiling hot soup all over Diesel's face.


Blinded and in pain Diesel seemed to gain the strength of ten engines. He rocketed towards the Works station like a thunderbolt, the b*tchy Express coaches clattering out of control behind him.

"Oh crumbs!" cried Bert. "We's gonna crash into the station! Ooh, oi know!"

Bert took a deep breath and tooted the only special signal he knew on his horn. The old signalman was surprised.

"Wuzzat the scrap train code I 'eard? Blimey, 'ee's early! Best let 'im in the Yard then."

The points changed and the runaway Express careered into the sidings.

"Don' worry, lads!" said Bert proudly. "Good ol' Bert 'as saved the day once again!"


Diesel, Arry and Bert found themselves buried under a mountain of rusting old used parts from the nearby workshops. The coaches screeched insults at them as angry passengers flooded out of the train to join in. And there, standing laughing hysterically from the Works siding, stood a freshly de-alcopoped Old Stuck-Up.

The Thin Git, who had been running after the train for several miles, told the three engines he was furious with them.

"You caused a lot of damage despite only getting this far," he said, "and now you deserve a rest. I'd say ten years at the sewage works ought to do it. Now get lost!"

Diesel, Arry and Bert were uncoupled and Old Stuck-Up took their place. As the diesel shunters moped wearily away, Old Stuck-Up looked at Diesel and grinned. Then he looked at Diesel's soup-splattered face and winked:

"French Chicken and Quail Egg. With extra parsley."

He didn't need to say anymore. Diesel knew exactly what he meant.


Tales From The Other Railway - Series 4 / Story 8
Based on Triple Header - Written by Christopher Awdry