- “Thomas the Tank Engine has worked his Branch Line for many years.”
- ―The introduction to Thomas's Branch Line
Branch Line Engines is the sixteenth book of the Railway Series.
We never have a dull moment on our Branch Line. Thomas was silly and got into trouble, so a Diesel Rail-car called Daisy came. She caused trouble, but has now promised to be good, so the Fat Controller has kindly given her another chance.
Meanwhile Toby chased a bull, Percy got into a predicament and...
But you must read the stories for yourselves.
When Thomas' driver jokes that Thomas does not need him any more, Thomas misunderstands him and boasts to Percy and Toby that he does not need a driver. The next morning, after a careless cleaner fiddles with Thomas' controls, Thomas successfully moves by himself, but cannot stop and runs into the stationmaster's house as he and his family sit down for breakfast. The stationmaster shuts off steam and his wife blames Thomas for ruining their breakfast, making Thomas feel sad. Donald and Douglas pull him out and Thomas is sent to the Works.
Thomas' temporary replacement, a snobby diesel rail-car named Daisy, arrives, and Percy and Toby show her around. She refuses to sleep in the engine shed, but finds the carriage shed good, except for some "rubbish" (Henrietta, Annie and Clarabel). Percy and Toby are tired after staying up late to cheer the furious coaches up, while Daisy is bright and cheerful. She is preparing for her first train when she realises a milk van is about to be coupled to her and refuses to pull it, saying it is "bad for her swerves." Daisy is lying, but this is not known to the crew and so the van is taken away. Daisy, satisfied, realises this allows her to do whatever she wants.
Daisy makes fun of Toby's cowcatchers and sideplates, saying he is scared of getting hurt. Toby tells her they are for stopping him from hurting animals if they stray on the line, but Daisy says that animals will move anyway if you "toot and look them in the eye." Later, Daisy is asked to shoo a bull called Champion to his owner, but he is too busy eating grass to notice. An exasperated Daisy goes back to Elsbridge, and Toby "shoos" Champion for her. That evening, Daisy sees some boys enjoying some sweets called "bull's-eyes" and gets huffy.
Daisy has neglected to take the milk again and Percy is in a bad mood. Toby decides to take the van for him so as to let Percy take his trucks from the quarry. Percy speaks rudely to the trucks, and they plan revenge. As they slow down at a sign to "pin down" brakes, the trucks barge forward and push Percy down the line and into a train of stone trucks. That evening, the Fat Controller scolds Percy, and Daisy too for being lazy, but gives her a second chance for her work after Percy's accident. Thomas comes home the next day, Percy is sent to be mended, and Toby teaches Daisy the finer points of branch line life.
- Annie and Clarabel
- The Fat Controller
- The Little Boys
- The Ffarquhar Stationmaster's Wife
- The Dryaw Policeman
- Daisy's Fitter (not seen)
- Donald (does not speak)
- The Ffarquhar Stationmaster (does not speak)
- The Ffarquhar Stationmaster's children (not named; does not speak)
- Douglas (mentioned)
- The Careless Cleaner (mentioned)
- Ffarquhar Sheds
- The Ffarquhar Stationmaster's House
- The Carriage Shed
- Anopha Quarry
- The Quarry Tramroad
- Sodor Dairy (mentioned)
- In the first and second illustration of Bulls Eyes, the British Railways' "cycling lion" logo is visible on Daisy's side.
- The Rev. W. Awdry arranged Thomas' accident in order to fix the distinct dip at the front of Thomas' running plate.
- A nameplate is seen on Donald's front, above his face. This is the only instance that Donald has ever appeared as such.
- Loraine Marshall recreated the illustrations of Thomas Comes to Breakfast for a Thomas' YouTube World Tour segment.
- Early editions, such as the 1968 reprint, incorrectly state that the book was first published in 1965 instead of 1961.
- The events of this book took place in 1960.
- In Percy's Predicament, Percy travels along the Quarry Tramroad, the line on which Thomas had gotten in legal trouble for operating along without cowcatchers and sideplates. The reason Percy did not end up in similar trouble is because the policeman who persecuted Thomas had since been reassigned, and the law cited had long been "outdated".
- After the book was published, Wilbert Awdry got a letter from an ex-railwayman claiming that the crash in Percy's Predicament could not happen, so he sent the man a picture on the inspiration. The story was based on an incident on page 53 of Model Railway News from 1958, which happened at Swanley Junction on the 13th of April 1876, to London, Chatham & Dover Railway's 123, Phyllis.
- While Daisy is arguing with her crew, the stationmaster and the shunter, the milk van is mysteriously coupled up.
- Daisy is missing her British Railways logo in "Daisy".
- In the second illustration of Thomas Comes to Breakfast, Toby is missing his number 7.
- Donald is still painted black, but in the previous book, they were going to be repainted blue.
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