The Adventure Begins is one of of two Thomas & Friends specials released in 2015. The special was commissioned by Walmart for the 70th Anniversary of the Railway Series, and was released in Walmart as an exclusive DVD in the US on March 3rd, 2015, while the UK released the special as an ASDA-exclusive on July 27th, 2015. The special is based on the first two Railway Series books: The Three Railway Engines and Thomas the Tank Engine


A long time ago, there was a little railway known as The North Western. The engines working there are Edward, the smallest engine, who shunted trains for the bigger engines and Gordon, the biggest engine, who loves pulling the express; unfortunately, he sometimes has to pull trucks. One day, Gordon is pulling a goods train, and informs Edward that a new engine will be arriving soon. Edward is very surprised and curious by this. Gordon goes on explaining how the last engine to arrive, who has wooden brake blocks, is too small. Suddenly the engine, James, pulls in front of them, protesting that he is not small and that there is nothing wrong with his wooden brakes.

Gordon continues on with his goods train, but when he reaches the big hill on the main line, the trucks hold him back, and he refuses to try and make it to the top. His driver makes a phone call to Sir Topham Hatt, the railway's controller. Sir Topham sends Edward to give Gordon a push, and together they make it to the top of the hill. But Gordon just continues on his way without even saying thank you to Edward.

Later, Edward is shunting when he hears a voice he has never heard before. He finds James talking to a tank engine with six small wheels, a short stumpy funnel, a short stumpy boiler and a short stumpy dome. Edward does not expect the new engine to be so small. The tank engine introduces himself as Thomas, and the two tender engines welcome him to Sodor. Gordon arrives and scoffs at Thomas' claim that he is really useful for anything more than shunting coaches. As Gordon leaves, Sir Topham Hatt arrives and gives Thomas his orders to make himself useful, and that Edward will show him what to do.

Thomas and Edward set to work shunting trains for the big engines. But all day long Thomas gets himself into trouble by bumping trucks and going onto the wrong tracks. Later, Thomas spies Gordon sleeping on a siding, and wakes him up with a toot of his whistle, leaving Gordon very cross.

That night, Thomas arrives at Tidmouth Sheds and pulls into the berth besides Edward. He is excited about pulling trains soon, but Edward knows that he has to learn how to shunt properly first. Then a big green engine pulls into the sheds, wanting to get into his berth quickly before it rains. Edward tells Thomas about Henry and how much he does not like rain. Edward then tells the story of how Henry refused to leave a tunnel in case the rain spoilt his paint. After the passengers and even another engine could not get him out, the Fat Controller had a wall built in front of him and left him there. Edward begins to explain how Henry was allowed out after Gordon burst his safety valve outside the tunnel, but Gordon interrupts him, wanting to get to sleep.

The next day, Thomas is sent to the Steamworks to be painted into the colours Sir Topham Hatt likes to see on his railway - blue with red stripes. Thomas shows Edward his paint as well as his new number one. The other engines tell Thomas about the previous number one, who was a coffee pot engine. Edward has a train to pull so Thomas goes to fetch Gordon's express coaches, but he accidentally couples to two small coaches named Annie and Clarabel. Thomas kindly apologises, explaining how he is new. The coaches think he is a very sweet engine, and Annie seems sure that he will go far one day.

Thomas spends all day working on his own, but it is hard work and he continues causing problems. Late in the afternoon, James pulls in with Annie and Clarabel and screeches to a stop next to Thomas, who notices a smokey smell. It is coming from James' wooden brakes, but James pretends not to notice. Thomas sees Henry taking on water, and asks him why he has a fear of rain, explaining how it is just water, like he puts in his boiler, and that he should not spend all day worrying. Henry claims that he is usually very happy, when it is sunny.

The next morning, Thomas' fire is slow to start, making him late to bring Gordon's coaches to the platform. Gordon is still grumpy that Thomas woke him up by whistling, so when Thomas brings him his coaches, Gordon makes a plan. As soon as he is coupled up, he quickly pulls away before the workmen have a chance to uncouple Thomas from the other end of the train. Thomas is forced to race along with the express as Gordon taunts him, all the way to Wellsworth. As soon as the train stops, an exhausted Thomas is uncoupled and he goes to a water tower for a drink; Gordon laughs and continues on his way.

Thomas is later shunting when he spots two very strange looking trucks on a siding. He wakes them up, causing them to panic, wondering what the emergency could be. Annie and Clarabel explain how they are Jerome and Judy, the breakdown train, and the cranes are used to lift things back onto the tracks. James pulls in with a goods train, ready to take the coaches; Thomas notices the burning smell again, but once again James pretends that he has not seen any smoke, this time blowing the smoke away.

The next morning, Henry is feeling ill, so Thomas thinks he might have a chance to take Henry's train. When Henry still does not come, the Fat Controller decides that Thomas is the only engine available. But Thomas is too excited to listen to Sir Topham's instructions, and after hearing a guard's whistle on the other platform, he pulls away without his train; he hurries along thinking pulling a train is easy. He comes to a red signal where the signalman asks him where his coaches are. Thomas is shocked and very sad that he has left his train behind. He comes back to Knapford where all the passengers are complaining, and finally does as he is told, but he still feels miserable.

That night, Gordon and James find the story of Thomas' train very amusing. But Edward feels sorry for Thomas, and asks him if he would like to take his train of trucks in the morning; Thomas happily agrees.

The next day, Thomas can hardly contain his excitement. He and Edward make their way to the train of trucks, but Edward tries to warn Thomas about how much trouble the trucks can cause. Thomas feels confident and pulls away, but the trucks try to hold back. As he finally leaves, Edward calls out to Thomas to be careful.

Thomas makes his way along the line, with the trucks getting crosser and crosser. He comes to Gordon's Hill and struggles to make his way to the top. But as soon as they begin to run down the other side, the trucks see their chance. They push Thomas hard, causing him to run down the track at high speed. Thomas flies down the line until he is sent into a siding at Maron, and finally comes to a stop in front of some buffers. The Fat Controller has seen all, and orders Thomas and Edward to stay in the yard until Thomas knows as much about trucks as Edward.

Thomas and Edward are shunting when they notice a train at the platform without an engine. Thomas realises that it is raining and races back to the sheds, where he finds Henry. He once again tells Henry about how rain is just water like he puts in his boiler, and Henry finally comes out into the rain, very happy.

Thomas begins to work hard, now that he knows he is not as clever as he first thought. But as he is talking to Edward, James rushes through the yard with a train of trucks, screaming and with black smoke coming from his brakes; the trucks are pushing him and Thomas bravely hurries after James.

Out on the main line, James begs the trucks to stop pushing him, but they take no notice. Thomas tells James to use his brakes, but they are already on fire, making them useless against the trucks. Thomas heads to the brake van, and James' guard tries to couple him up so that Thomas can slow the train down. But before Thomas can be coupled up, James goes around a bend too fast, tipping onto his side and sliding along a field. The train falls off the track with him. Thomas is shocked, and after seeing that the guard is okay, he tells James that he will get help.

Thomas heads into Knapford Yard and wakes up Jerome and Judy again, letting them know that this time there really is an emergency. The two cranes and the workmen are soon ready and Thomas sets off. The Fat Controller demands to know what Thomas is doing, but Thomas tells him that this is an emergency.

At the accident site, Thomas pushes the rest of James' trucks away while Jerome and Judy lift a very battered and dirty James back onto the tracks. The Fat Controller tells Thomas to take James to the Steamworks.

Later that night, at Tidmouth Sheds, the workmen and engines cheer for Thomas. Even Gordon is impressed. Sir Topham tells everyone how James will be fitted with proper brakes and a new coat of paint, and he is going to give Thomas his own branch line for being so brave; Thomas is delighted. Gordon asks the Fat Controller who will shunt the trucks and coaches while Thomas is away. Sir Topham tells him that until he can find another small tank engine, he might have to do it himself. Gordon is distraught at hearing this, but the other engines laugh.

A few days later, Thomas and Edward are in the yard when they see a red engine approaching. It is James in his new bright red paintwork, and new proper brakes. James asks Edward to fetch his coaches, but Annie and Clarabel tell him that they belong to Thomas now. He collects them and sets off on his way, but not forgetting to wake up Gordon first.

Thomas happily chuffs along the branch line with Annie and Clarabel. He pulls into Ffarquhar, and is surprised to see a coffee pot engine on one of the sidings, covered in moss. The engine tells him to wear his number one with pride, and as Thomas leaves, the engine introduces himself as Glynn. Thomas continues on his way, as happy as can be to be starting his new life on the Island of Sodor.

Differences from the Original Stories

The Adventure Begins is based on the first two books of the Railway Series, The Three Railway Engines and Thomas the Tank Engine, and thus is incredibly similar to them. However, the special also includes new elements or changes in the story to bring some fresh ideas to the table. The following changes are listed below:

  • Edward, Henry, Gordon and James are all on Sodor before Thomas is. According to Railway Series reference material, Thomas and Edward both came to Sodor together before Henry, Gordon and James did.
  • James is painted in the black livery he was painted in when he came to Sodor in the Railway Series. In the television series, he was red right from the very start.
  • When Edward helps Gordon over the hill, he simply stays at the top of the hill and mutters how ungrateful Gordon is, whereas in the original story and episode, he went down the hill to Maron to get a drink.
  • The red engine who originally tried to push Henry out of the tunnel was replaced by Thomas in the television series adaptation of the story. Ironically, James, the very engine the red engine was mistakenly illustrated as, replaces the red engine in this special.
  • Henry is shown to be afraid of the rain in this special, whereas he only hid in the tunnel in vain so as not to spoil his paintwork in the original story and television series adaptation. His worrisome personality is a pivotal part of his role in the special.
  • Thomas leaves his train behind at Knapford due to mistaking the whistle of Edward's guard for his own. In both the original story and adaptation, the reason he left the station so early was left unknown.
  • When James' brakes fail and he becomes a runaway, Thomas chases after him and tries to slow him down, then fetches the breakdown train when he fails to do so. In both the original story and television series adaptation, he does not fetch the breakdown train until he is told that James derailed.
  • The breakdown cranes both receive faces and names: Jerome and Judy.
  • The "Coffee Pot" engines are mentioned, and one of them, Glynn, is even seen. These engines were never mentioned in the Railway Series before, but were mentioned in reference material about the series. They were included in the special by railway consultant Sam Wilkinson.

Characters and Cast

Character Voice Actor
Thomas John Hasler (UK)
Joseph May (US)
Edward Keith Wickham (UK)
William Hope (US)
Henry Keith Wickham (UK)
Kerry Shale (US)
Gordon Keith Wickham (UK)
Kerry Shale (US)
James Keith Wickham (UK)
Rob Rackstraw (US)
Glynn Keith Wickham (UK/US)
Annie and Clarabel Teresa Gallagher (UK/US)
Jerome and Judy Tim Whitnall (UK/US)
Teresa Gallagher (UK/US)
Troublesome Trucks Christopher Ragland (UK/US)
Sir Topham Hatt Keith Wickham (UK/US)
Other Humans Keith Wickham (UK/US)
Teresa Gallagher (UK/US)

Songs Featured