- “Speed's nothing to me. Why, one of my Doncaster cousins went at 126 miles an hour.”
Gordon the High-Speed Engine is the thirty-first book of the Railway Series.
Over here on the Other Railway we are used to High-Speed Trains, and know how useful they can be. But when Gordon first heard of them he began boasting about how fast he could go. He should have known better, because he only landed himself in disgrace and made the Fat Controller cross. These stories tell how hard Gordon worked to redeem himself and make the Fat Controller think again.
Gordon is jealous when Donald talks about high-speed engines and boasts that he can go faster. Gordon sets out to prove his superior speed capabilities when he takes the Express, but he slips on the slippery rails and the water in his boiler surges forwards, rendering him incapable of ceasing to create steam. Donald takes him back to the shed after he runs out of steam. and the rails Gordon was running on are replaced.
Gordon feels stuffed up and sneezes at Wellsworth, spraying soot all over a party of wedding guests. The Fat Controller delays a visit to the mainland to apologise to the party. Afterwards, Gordon steams past and some ashes fall onto the Fat Controller's top hat. When Gordon gets home, an inspector tells him that he will be disciplined when the Fat Controller returns.
Gordon, trying to make amends, is rushing at his hill when a firebar collapses. Thinking quickly, the driver tells the fireman to put a large piece of coal over the hole. Gordon manages to struggle to a loop, and BoCo comes to help. The Fat Controller thanks BoCo and is about to say something to Gordon when he has to go to his train, leaving Gordon in suspense.
Gordon Proves His Point
Gordon is at Barrow-in-Furness when a porter asks him to take a train of enthusiasts up to Carlisle. The Fat Controller gives his consent, and two powercars called Pip and Emma take the Express back to Tidmouth. Pip's cooling system is faulty, but Emma is in order. James, who is taking a stopping train, is asked to help Pip and Emma after Emma breaks down. At Tidmouth, the Fat Controller thanks James and asks him to make Pip and Emma welcome. When Gordon returns, the Fat Controller forgives him for his smokescreen and tells him that the ashes came from an ashtray being emptied by a steward. Gordon takes the passengers home.
- Donald and Douglas
- Stephen Hatt
- Pip (does not speak)
- 31120 (does not speak)
- The Wedding Guests (do not speak)
- 10751 (does not speak; not named)
- Duck (cameo)
- Edward (mentioned)
- Bear (mentioned)
- The Works Diesel (mentioned)
- The Stone-dropping Boys (mentioned)
- Mallard (indirectly Mentioned)
- Tidmouth Sheds
- Gordon's Hill
- Kellsthorpe Road
- Doncaster (mentioned)
- This is the first book to include the new Tidmouth Sheds.
- After writing this book, Christopher Awdry was able to retire from his job at the Inland Revenue and write full-time.
- The cover illustration is very similar to the second illustration of Edward, Gordon and Henry.
- In "Smokescreen", a reference to the story "Henry's Sneeze" is made.
- Gordon's trip to Carlisle is mentioned again in the annual story, Percy's Passengers.
- This book marks a few things for BoCo:
- His face is fully yellow.
- He has a face at each end.
- His final speaking role in the Railway Series.
- This book was published six weeks before the first series of the TV series was released on VHS in Australia.
- This is the last book in the Railway Series where Gordon appears in all four stories.
- The events of this book take place in 1986.
- Smokescreen is based on a real event when wedding guests were showed with soot from an engine's funnel at the Bluebell Railway.
- Fire Escape is based on a real event that occurred on the Lickey Incline, south of Birmingham.
- In the first illustration, Douglas is mistaken for Donald.
- Barrow is incorrectly depicted as a terminus.
- In the last illustration, Douglas is shown to be pulling Pip and Emma, but neither of them have couplings in front.