Visiting Engines

Visiting Engine Profiles

Meet some of the engines who have visited the Fat Controller's Railway over the years

Stepney the Bluebell Engine

Railway Series Stepney

Stepney is an engine from the Bluebell Railway in Sussex.  He was the first engine on his new Heritage Railway to be ‘saved’ from scrap, and remains a popular fixture on the railway to this day.  Stepney first made an appeared in his own Railway Series book No.18 – Stepney the Bluebell Engine, promoting the efforts of the Bluebell Railway.  His stories were later adapted into the television series where he was rescued from scrap by Rusty the little Diesel. 

Stepney in the TV Series (1995)

Stepney is cheerful, enthusiastic and loves to work.  During his visits to Sodor, he has run a special train for an important person – which caused Thomas to be shunted on his own branch line; accidentally held up a Cricket match when he took their ‘one and only ball’ for a ride down the line, and helped Duck pull a heavy train when a boastful Diesel became indisposed... however, he almost came to a sticky end when he met ‘Arry and Bert at the Smelters... but luckily, he was saved again by the Fat Controller!


Spoilt and big headed, Spencer is the Duke and Duchess of Boxford’s Private Engine, and he takes them everywhere they go. Gordon felt threatened when he learned that Spencer was the fastest engine in the world - faster than him even! But in spite of his endless bragging, it doesn’t take too long before Spencer is put in his place, thanks to his own self-importance and stupidity.  However, while often portrayed as a buffoon, he has shown that he does have a level of cunning and intelligence when he tried to stop Thomas from getting Hiro repaired...

The 'Bowled Out' Diesel

Like most visiting Diesels to Sodor this one proved no exception to the rule of being rude and rather above his station!  However, like all of his kind, he got his just deserts when a bowler hat was sucked into his air-intake during an inspection, and prevented him from pulling the Express, which Duck and Stepney had to take for him instead! He left without saying goodbye to anyone and left two things behind - a battered bowler hat and a rather nasty smell!

City Of Truro

City of Truro is reckoned to be the first British locomotive to exceed 100 Miles per Hour, acheiving a speed debated to this day as 102.5mph.  He and Duck were supposed to get on famously during his stay on Sodor, talking about all things Great Western.  However, like Henry and Flying Scotsman, City of Truro sparked jealousy within Gordon and gave the big blue engine ambition to break City of Truro's record.  He did this to no avail, and instead lost his dome in the process as it was blown off by a strong gust of wind!

City of Truro, like Flying Scotsman, is part of the National Collection.


Flying Scotsman is one of the most famous engines in the world.  He’s also Gordon’s brother and along with him, one of the last surviving locomotives of the LNER A3 Class. 


He runs Express services on the Mainland, running trains between London’s Kings Cross station and Edinburgh Waverley.  Because of the long distances he has to run with limited water stops available, Flying Scotsman runs with two tenders – one for his coal, the other for a large supply of water.

But he’s not famous for being a survivor!  Flying Scotsman has been in a feature film – aptly named ‘The Flying Scotsman’, he’s visited the United States of America, travelled to Australia and holds two world records to his credit.  He was the first engine to be officially authenticated at 100mph and then, the record for the longest non-stop run by a steam locomotive when it ran 422 miles (679 km) on 8 August 1989 while in Australia!  An engine not just built for speed, but endurance running as well!

Flying Scotsman and Gordon share a friendly rivalry, with Gordon trying to live up to his brother’s achievements, which caused Gordon some bother at the Great Railway Show when he tried to race Flying Scotsman and the other racing engines without a safety valve.  Despite being so foolish as to run anyway, Flying Scotsman felt sorry for his brother, and took pride in the way the Sodor engines tried to compete despite various difficulties.

But despite their differences, Gordon was happy to see Flying Scotsman in 1968 when he came to Sodor before he left for America. Flying Scotsman proved popular with the engines, however, did spark a little jealousy with Henry, who proved envious of his two tenders!  He provided Gordon and the others reassurance at a time when steam on the mainland was officially being abolished in favour of modern Diesel traction. 

Flying Scotsman was purchased by the National Railway Museum in York in 2004 and added to the National Collection of locomotives.  After a very long overhaul, where he received a number of new parts to ensure a long and healthy career on the Main Line again, he returned to working service in 2016 and has toured the UK extensively since.


Hiro the Master of the Railway

Hiro is a gentle giant engine who came from an Island very far away to work on the Sodor Railway when it first opened many years ago.  Hiro was the strongest engine on his Island, and earned the name, 'Master of the Railway' both there and on Sodor.  But Hiro began to break down and he was laid aside to await the arrival of parts from his Island... which sadly never came.  Hiro was lost for a very long time, but was eventually rediscovered by Thomas who tried to restore him to his former glory.  Hiro became a friend to all of the engines throughout this time, but he eventually wanted to go home to his Island.  But Thomas was keen to remind him - Sodor would always be his home too.


Connor is one of the Mainland Railway’s Streamlined Engines, who runs special services from the Mainland to Ulfstead Castle for the Earl Norramby with his good friend Caitlin. 

Connor is big, strong and very fast, and enjoys running at very high speeds.  He runs with his own special coaches which match his turquoise and yellow livery.

Whilst he is a kindly engine, Connor is very competitive and has been known to race against Caitlin, Gordon and Spencer on occasion.  He takes great pride in how fast he can go, and is often quite self-assured... that was until he met Bill, who challenged him to a race – without Connor knowing about his twin, Ben, who was waiting at Ulfstead Castle.


Connor thought the two engines were the same – he thought he had been beaten!  Connor’s determination to win on the way back almost caused an accident on the way back to the junction, when he rushed through a red signal and narrowly avoided hitting Henry.


Caitlin is another of the Mainland Railway’s Steamlined Engines, who runs special services from the Mainland to Ulfstead Castle for the Earl Norramby. 

Like Connor she runs with her own special coaches which match her maroon, white and lavender livery, and enjoys running at high speeds through the Sodor countryside.

Whilst Caitlin takes great pride in her work, she can be quite excitable.  When the Vicarstown Rolling Bridge was closed for repair one evening, she had to spend the night on Sodor, an opportunity which she relished. 

However, she was so excited that she kept the other engines awake, and Gordon took every opportunity to get her to leave – by urging her to take the Flying Kipper and Percy’s Mail train that night.  But Caitlin made so much noise that she woke the entire Island.  She soon learned her mistake the next morning when she fell asleep at the Vicarstown Bridge on the way home!

Stephen is one of the oldest steam engines ever built, and most certainly, he is the oldest working engine on the Island of Sodor.  He works and lives at Ulfstead Castle with the Earl and Mille, taking visitors around the grounds of the castle and is hailed as the Earl’s star attraction. 

He is chirpy, cheeky and very witty, as well as a hard worker, brimming to the top with determination and grit.

When he was first built, people weren’t used to steam engines and Stephen and his friends were looked upon as the fastest thing on land.  They called him ‘The Rocket’ because they thought he was so fast.  He worked at the mines and the Docks before being retired and replaced by newer, more powerful engines later on. 

Stephen was left out of service for a long time and became rundown, until many years later, the Earl of Sodor bought him and brought him to Sodor to be restored to his former glory of yellow with black lining.

The other engines were fascinated with Stephen – they had never seen an engine as old as him, even Edward was impressed and curious!  But like them, Stephen was desperate to work, and when Thomas told him that the Earl had a job for Stephen, he was adamant to find out what it was, and so he set out on a journey across Sodor to find it. 

All Stephen found was trouble when he visited the Docks, the Blue Mountain Quarry and eventually, Ulfstead Mines, where he ended up trapped after a runaway goods train forced him into an old mine shaft.


But Stephen’s accident brought good fortune when he found King Godred’s lost crown, and soon after, he was eventually saved by Thomas.  After that, Stephen settled down to work at Ulfstead Castle, taking visitors around the grounds. 

The engines continue to admire and respect Stephen, and he always does his best to be a good friend to everyone – lending Percy his lucky horse-shoe and receiving a helpful ‘push’ from the others on the way back with the ‘Afternoon Tea Express’.

'Samson at your service!'

Samson is a cabless tank engine, who takes pride in his strength and claims to know everything. When he first came to Sodor, however, he got lost whilst delivering the model dinosaurs to Ulfstead Castle and ended up in the Blue Mountain Quarry! Sometimes, he can be too proud to ask for help and becomes frustrated when he makes mistakes…like the time he took Gordon’s Express coaches to the quarry instead of empty trucks!


Millie has worked for the Earl Norramby for many years, running the Estate Railway for him at Ulfstead Castle.  She is a French narrow gauge engine, who the Earl purchased whilst on his travels. 

When he went to travel the world again, she was left in her shed for quite some time until he returned – and at first, none of the other engines knew who she was.  She soon became good friends with Thomas when they met for the first time at Ulfstead Castle, and works well with Stephen, the Earl’s other engine.

However, Millie had never worked outside the Estate.  Until one day, Luke came to visit with a load of gravel from the Blue Mountain Quarry, and after a debate on who had the harder job, they agreed to switch duties. 

Millie spent an eventful day at the Blue Mountain Quarry, learning how to work with slate trucks and discovering her love of tunnels.  But whilst she thoroughly enjoyed her day away, she was glad to return to the safe surroundings of the Castle and the job she knew well!


Gator is a large tank engine whose distinctive sloping water tanks and green paintwork make him resemble an alligator! It is because of this that he is nicknamed Gator – his real name is Gerald.

He was designed to work in a land far away, high in the mountains, but upon his first visit to Sodor his unusual appearance in the dark frightened several of the other engines, especially poor Percy, who was convinced there was a monster on Sodor.

Luckily for Percy, Gator turned out to be the perfect engine to console him and teach him a vital lesson in bravery. Gator’s wise words and courage inspired Percy to be brave and conquer his fears, and even after Gator's departure from Sodor his helpful presence is still felt by Percy from time to time.

'Samson at your service!'

Samson is a cabless tank engine, who takes pride in his strength and claims to know everything. When he first came to Sodor, however, he got lost whilst delivering the model dinosaurs to Ulfstead Castle and ended up in the Blue Mountain Quarry! Sometimes, he can be too proud to ask for help and becomes frustrated when he makes mistakes…like the time he took Gordon’s Express coaches to the quarry instead of empty trucks!

Hugo is a Rail Zeppelin from Germany, who came to the Island of Sodor to visit the Earl of Norramby.  When the other engines first met him, they feared the Fat Controller would replace them with new engines like Hugo and refused to speak to him.  But Percy remained sympathetic and saw that Hugo was a kind engine, who only wanted to be useful and feel included – soon after, they held a party in his honour at Knapford Station to welcome him to the Island.


Hugo also proved to be quite aspirational when he saw an Air Zeppelin that looked just like him flying in the sky above the Island of Sodor.  He tried to fly just like it, but soon found he couldn’t quite manage.  However, he found that his purpose as a Rail Zeppelin was still as useful – and Skiff particularly loved being blown up the track by his propeller breeze!


Hurricane is a big red tank engine who works at the Steelworks on the Mainland. Because working at the Steelworks is heavy and demanding, they needed an engine with his size and strength to help push and pull the heavy trucks around the massive site, and pull heavy trains of steel to shunting yards where they'd be taken for construction and other work.


When he first arrived at the Steelworks, he had difficulty getting around the tight bends in the yard and in the buildings on the site.  The Drivers and Workmen found the best way to solve Hurricane’s flexibility issues was to change his wheel arrangement from a 0-10-0 to a 0-6-4.  This made work in the Steelworks much easier!


However, the Steelworks is vast and that means there’s a lot of work.  So whenever they come, Hurricane is grateful for the help of other engines.  Whilst he was keen to keep Thomas at the Steelworks to help himself and Frankie, Hurricane tried to do his best by Thomas and show his appreciation, even if his methods weren’t the most honest at the time.


Frankie is a Diesel Engine who works in partnership with Hurricane at the Steelworks on the Mainland. Whilst a hardworking engine at heart, she can be quite bossy and forthright with the other engines she works with.


Bold and determined, when she felt that the Steelworks engines were being overlooked, she decided to take matters into her own frames and do something about it.  The other engines on the Mainland weren’t willing to help out at the Steelworks, and the Controller for the region wouldn't supply another engine.  So Frankie and Hurricane decided they would find one themselves, and take advantage of any opportunity they were offered... unfortunately, poor Thomas was their first victim.


However, Frankie has a bit of a soft-side and was rightfully worried about how she’d manage on her own when Hurricane’s wheels were melted by molten slag.  Thankfully they were joined by the Experimental Engines who proved to be really useful new friends.  But whilst life at the Steelworks is a little easier these days, Frankie will stop at nothing to achieve her goals - even if it means being a bit unscrupulous when she feels it's justified.


Merlin thinks he can make himself invisible - when in actuality, he's only blowing steam and still in full view of other engines. An older, more eccentric steam engine, Merlin was built with three funnels so that his steam wouldn't be visible when he was running at night - unfortunately it didn't work, but Merlin thinks it worked a little too well!


Of all the Experimental Engines, Merlin is the most positive, adventurous and willing. He wanted to help Thomas get home, he was the first to volunteer to help rescue James and he's the one who reminds Theo and Lexi that even though they think they can't perform a task, they should always try first.


Lexi the Cab Forward Engine has a bit of an identity crisis. She loves to experiment with different voices, pitches, dialects and accents – sometimes switching over mid-sentence!  She’s always keen to find an identity that fits or suits her mood at the time.  While she comes across as a bit crazy when you first meet her, Lexi is a sensible engine with a lot of insight.


Bright and friendly to everyone she meets, when we first meet her, Lexi doesn’t always believe in herself – thinking of herself as a really useless engine, and resigning herself to being a curious oddity in the yard where the Experimental Engines live. However thanks to Thomas, she learns she's more useful than she realises when she begins work at the Steelworks.


Theo is a little geared railway traction engine, and a born worrier. He’s very shy, extremely cautious and quite awkward.  He has a bit of a natural tendency to shudder quite a lot, partly down to his experimental drive system which is prone to sudden jolts forward or back when his rods or cogs jam – and in part due to his nerves and negative thought processes, particularly when faced with new and strange situations.


A quiet, kind, thoughtful little engine, he has a habit of blunt speaking – although he means well and has a big heart.  Not as bubbly as Lexi, nor as adventurous as Merlin – he enjoys the quiet life and feels most comfortable in the Experimental Engines yard, where he enjoys the safety and peace offered living with the other Experimental Engines.  However, encouraged by Merlin, he joined the team at the Steelworks and found he was capable of more than he realised.



Logan is a little boxy tank engine, who looks a little bit like a Diesel engine!  Logan was brought to the Island of Sodor to help shunt trucks at Crosby Coal Yard for the other engines when the Coal Yard found itself to be particularly busy.


On his first day working at Crosby, he got Edward and Gordon and didn’t know which engine was which.  Logan ended up giving Edward’s train of bubblesome trucks to Gordon, and Gordon’s train with the Sodor Brass Band to Edward!  Realising his mistake, Logan chased after the two engines and put things right.  When his work was done, he and Sam returned to the Mainland to continue their work there.

Ryan and the members of SiF discuss the breaking news of the new Merchandise-Only Character and his benefits!

The SiF Blog discusses the first Thomas & Friends merchandise only character, now rendered in full CGI!




Sam is by far the largest engine that the Island of Sodor has ever seen!  Hailing all the way from America, he came to help Sir Topham Hatt by pulling heavy loads to build the new Sodor Museum.  Being such a large engine, he found the Island of Sodor to be very small by comparison with the runs he was used to making back home in the United States.


When Thomas first met Sam, he was astonished to see just how many trucks were part of his train!  Sam went on to prove just how useful he was whilst visiting the Island of Sodor, helping Percy out of a ditch, and pulling the new bell up to the Clock Tower when Rocky couldn’t manage on his own.  As a reward for all his hard work, Sam was given the role of leading the first visitors into the museum.