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This article is about the episode. You may be looking for the VHS, the German VHS, the Danish DVD, the Croatian DVD, or the magazine story.

“Time's time! Why should I keep my passengers waiting, while Henry and James dawdle about all day on viaducts?”

Better Late Than Never is the fifteenth episode of the second series. It is based on the story of the same name from The Railway Series book, More About Thomas the Tank Engine.


Work has become hard for the engines on the Island of Sodor as the viaduct on the main line is being repaired, with the arches being strengthened. As the Fat Controller is unwilling to close the railway during repairs, the work is taking a long time and all engines crossing the viaduct must cross slowly and carefully so as to avoid it collapsing under them. Because of this, the engines are often late making it to the junction where Thomas waits for his passengers.

Thomas complains that the engines are just going slowly to make him late; he grumbles about this to Henry, who defends himself by telling Thomas that they have to go at a reduced speed during the repair work. Thomas however is uninterested and he leaves to try to make up for the lost time.

Normally when Thomas stops at the station, Bertie arrives soon after and his passengers go straight from him to Thomas. But because of how the larger engines are late for Thomas, he is late for Bertie's passengers and now they often find themselves waiting on the platform. This causes Bertie to become angry with Thomas, who Bertie tells when he arrives that he thought Thomas could go faster than that. He then remarks they should have another race, thinking he could now beat him causing an exhausted Thomas to become angry and blame the mainline engines for "dithering" on the viaduct and claims it to be an excuse for laziness.

Another day, James arrives later than ever. He apologises, stating that a hold-up at the station combined with the delay at the viaduct caused his lateness. Thomas (as usual) has no interest in excuses and leaves grumbling. He attempts to get to the station as fast as he can but is unable to make up very much time. However, things change when Thomas spots Bertie at the level crossing with his radiator steaming. Thomas tells Bertie he is late, but Bertie tells Thomas that he feels dreadful and his driver is unable to repair him. Thomas running so late is a bit of relief, as he can now pick up the passengers here instead of having them be stranded. Thomas no longer feels angry and is sorry for Bertie, and promises to send help at the next station. Thomas leaves and takes the passengers home.

There are times when being late isn't such a bad thing after all.

When Bertie is repaired, he and Thomas make up their argument and both agree that sometimes being late can actually be quite useful.




  • Stock footage from Thomas' Train, Thomas and the Guard, Thomas and Bertie and a deleted scene from Thomas and Trevor are used.
  • The ending was filmed at the same time as Bertie's Chase, since Thomas and Bertie are in the same positions at Tidmouth, although with different camera angles.
  • In the US, this episode aired before Saved from Scrap; this means that the audience would not know who Trevor is. It also aired before A Close Shave.
  • For the remainder of the second series, the viaduct is always seen undergoing repairs.
  • Christopher Awdry's credit for the episode was originally shown when the episode was compiled with Break Van, later versions throughout the 1990's, most notably on VHS and Cartoon Network, used the end credits from Duck Takes Charge. When a future release came out, Christopher was given credit for the episode.
  • When the episode aired in the Shining Time Station episode, Mr. Conductor's Big Sleepwalk, the ending was cut short when Bertie left.
  • A scene from this episode is shown in the 2006 British Drama film; 'After Thomas.'
  • In the Nick Jr. version in the US, a few scenes and lines were cut:
    • In the scene of Henry crossing the viaduct was a few seconds short, George Carlin's lines were cut and the last of the music was relocated to that scene.
    • The scene of Edward crossing the viaduct a second time is cut
    • When Thomas told Bertie he is late, it goes right to the close-up of Bertie skipping the last few seconds of the previous scene and music.
    • George Carlin's line "With a last cheerful greeting, the two friends went back to work" was cut as well as the last close-up of Bertie and the last two scenes.


  • Edward has Thomas' whistle sound at the very beginning.
  • Thomas has to wait for James and Henry at the junction; they are supposedly bringing Thomas' passengers, but James is pulling vans instead of coaches, and Henry is not pulling anything at all.
  • In many scenes, Clarabel is facing the wrong way.
  • Bertie's face is loose when he says "Late again!" and is clearly being held in position by blu-tack.
  • When Thomas stops at at the station, there are passengers at the platform. But when Bertie pulls up to tease Thomas, there aren't any passengers on the platform.
  • When Thomas says "Time's time!" his eyes are wonky.
  • At the end of the episode when Thomas leaves the station, the track moves a bit by itself.
  • In Ringo Starr's US narration, when Thomas says "They dither about on the viaduct and then blame Sir Topham Hatt's workmen," there is an echo in the background. This is audio from the UK version.
  • In the scene where Bertie arrives at the station while waiting for Thomas, his eyes are a bit wonky.

In Other Languages

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Language Title
Chinese 比没有道好
Croatian Bolje kasno nego nikad
Czech Raději pozdě, než nikdy
Danish Hellere sent end aldrig
Dutch Beter laat dan nooit
Finnish Parempi Myöhään Kuin....
German Besser spät als nie
Hungarian Jobb Későn, mint Soha
Italian Ritardi
Japanese おくれるのもわるくない
Norwegian Bedre sent enn aldri
Polish Lepiej Póżno niż Wcale
Romanian Mai Bine Mai Târziu Decât Niciodată
Russian Лучше поздно, чем никогда
Serbian Bolje ikad nego nikad
Slovak Radšej Neskôr ako Nikdy
Slovenian Bolje pozno, kot nikoli
Spanish Más Vale Tarde que Nunca
Swedish Bättre sent än aldrig
Thai มาช้านิดหน่อยดีกว่าไม่มาเลย
Ukrainian Краще пізно, ніж ніколи
Welsh Hwyr o Hyd

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DVD Boxsets


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  • Complete Series 1-10
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