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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 difficult 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 safely 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 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 seldom interested and leaves to try to make up for lost time.

Normally, when Thomas stops at Tidmouth station, Bertie arrives soon after and his passengers go straight from him to their train. But because 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 makes Bertie cross with Thomas, whom 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, angering an exhausted Thomas, who blames the main line 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 Cronk station combined with the delay at the viaduct contributed to his lateness. Thomas, as usual, has no interest in excuses, seeing this actual circumstance as a bad excuse, and leaves grumbling. He attempts to reach 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 cannot repair him. Thomas running so late brings a bit of relief, as he can now pick up the passengers at this point instead of leaving them stranded. Thomas no longer feels cross and is sorry for Bertie, and promises to send for help at the next station. Thomas leaves with Bertie's passengers on board and brings them home safely.

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

Once Bertie is repaired, he and Thomas make up for their argument, and both agree that sometimes being late is not such a bad thing after all, and they then return to work.




  • Stock footage from the first series episodes, Thomas' Train, Thomas and the Guard and Thomas and Bertie, an alternate scene from Bertie's Chase and a deleted one from Thomas and Trevor are used.
  • In the US and Canada, this episode aired before Saved from Scrap; this means that the audience would not know who Trevor is.
  • 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.
  • A scene from this episode is shown in the 2006 British Drama film, After Thomas.
  • In the Shining Time Station episode, Mr. Conductor's Big Sleepwalk, the final scene was cut.
  • In the Nick Jr. US dub of the Shining Time Station episode, Mr. Conductor's Big Sleepwalk, a few scenes and lines were cut:
    • Since 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.
  • The JEI TV version of the Korean dub added subtitles to inform viewers what a radiator is.
  • This episode was never released on VHS and DVD in South Korea.


  • 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 eyebrows are missing when he arrives at the station.
  • 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, the passengers are gone.
  • The narrator says that Bertie is cross, but he looks sad and his eyes are wonky.
  • 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 dub, 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 dub.
  • 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 Mandarin 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....
French Mieux Vaut Tard que Jamais
German Besser spät als nie
Greek Κάλλιο Αργά Παρά Ποτέ
Hungarian Jobb Későn, mint Soha
Italian Ritardi
Japanese おくれるのもわるくない
Korean 토마스와 버티
Latin American Spanish Más Vale Tarde que Nunca
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
Slovenian Bolje pozno, kot nikoli
Swedish Bättre sent än aldrig
Turkish Hiç Yoktan İyidir
Ukrainian Краще пізно, ніж ніколи
Welsh Hwyr o Hyd

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