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“Be polite and kind. Remember, you're Master of the Railway.”
―Hiro to himself[src]

Hiro is an old and wise Japanese tender engine, who is famously known as the "Master of the Railway".


Thomas & Friends

Hiro once lived on an unnamed railway in Japan. He was the strongest engine on his railway and was famously known as the "Master of the Railway". He was eventually brought to Sodor as the island's first and oldest engine, where he worked for many years. However, he began to show his age and break down and the workmen did not have the necessary parts to repair him. To escape being scrapped, he was put on a siding to wait for the parts to come from his homeland. However, the parts never came and Hiro was all but forgotten. [2]

Thomas eventually found him and fearing Hiro would be scrapped if he was not Really Useful, promised to bring him back to his former glory while keeping him a secret from the Fat Controller. Thomas also had the rest of the Steam Team help in the restoration and Hiro quickly gained their friendship. After breaking down again while trying to avoid Spencer, Hiro was hidden away in another siding, where the engines visited him and kept him company. [2]

When the Fat Controller found out about the situation, Hiro was brought to the Sodor Steamworks, where Victor oversaw his restoration. Once Hiro was restored, he helped Spencer after his accident and worked with him and Thomas to finish The Duke and Duchess of Boxford's summer house. Despite everything, Hiro had grown homesick, so the Fat Controller arranged for him to be sent back to his homeland. [2]

Hiro eventually came back to Sodor when the engines needed help with the summer holiday traffic. Upon his arrival, Hiro went to the Steamworks to be examined and then went to Knapford station for his welcome party, which was almost delayed as Thomas was trying to find a welcome present for Hiro instead of telling the other engines about the party. But, Hiro told Thomas that having his friends at the party was the best welcome present. Shortly after his return, Hiro told Thomas to take the load of bees through the woods, which Thomas ignored. However, Thomas took Hiro's advice after taking Hiro's flower truck to get the bees back to their hives. Later on, Hiro saw the Fat Controller and assumed he was too busy to give orders to his engines. So, he tried to help the Fat Controller by giving out the orders - but he only succeeded in becoming "Master of the Muddle". However, he made up for his mistakes by telling the engines to go to Knapford and await orders from the Fat Controller.

When Jobi Wood was being delivered to the Docks for the construction of the Sodor Search and Rescue Centre, Hiro told Thomas about where it came from. He later pushed Henry to the Steamworks to have his side-rods repaired and when Hiro became homesick, Thomas took him to Misty Island, which reminded Hiro of his home.

Ever since the introduction of the Vicarstown Bridge in the television series, Hiro has been shown travelling back and forth between Sodor and the Mainland, often pulling heavy goods trains. However, he still pulled goods trains elsewhere on Sodor, such as the day he was tasked with delivering two goods trains to the docks with Henry. When they learned they had taken on some bad coal, Henry did not want to carry on. Hiro, however, was determined to get the job done and did so. But during his next job of transporting girders with Henry, Hiro broke down and Henry had to come to the rescue.

Once, Diesel tried to teach him how to handle trucks, suggesting that the only way of tackling them was with force. However, Hiro insisted that being gentle was the best policy. However, when Diesel stuck to his own belief, he ended up causing Hiro's milk churns to spill over the Fat Controller — twice! After this, Diesel was found out and Hiro was tasked with teaching Diesel the correct way to treat trucks!

Sometime later, he stopped Caitlin while he was on the Mainland after she accidentally took Annie and Clarabel and brought them back to Thomas on Sodor. Later, he helped clear the tracks so Connor could deliver the last of his passengers on Christmas Eve and nearly mistook Harold for Santa Claus.

After six years of virtually no accidents at all, Hiro derailed at a bend when he hit some pipes which came loose from Thomas' train. With his left side severely damaged, he was sent to the Steamworks to be repaired again. Thomas - believing that there were no spare parts for him - went to Hiro's old hideout, only to get lost. When Thomas was found, Hiro revealed that the Fat Controller had bought plenty of spare parts for him and that he was already repaired.

At Christmas, he had the job of taking the mail to the Mainland to be delivered to the North Pole. Percy was supposed to bring more mail, but got stuck in a snowdrift and Hiro had to leave without it. Harold managed to catch up to him and give him the rest of the mail.

He later went to the Great Railway Show to compete in the Strongest Engine Race, representing his home country, Japan.

When Henry was taking a goods train to the Mainland, Hiro had to wait at a signal at Vicarstown while pulling a goods train. Because of another faulty signal not being able to warn anyone that he was stuck on the track, Henry ran into the back of Hiro's train and derailed, dangling dangerously over the edge of the viaduct.

When Kenji hid from Thomas (fearing going back to Japan alone), Hiro helped Thomas find him in the Whistling Woods. After hearing of Kenji's fears, Hiro decided to travel back to Japan with him, having missed Japan himself, both leaving Sodor on The Rail Ferry, and telling Thomas to visit should he get the chance.


Hiro is an old steam engine who has been on Sodor for a very long time and was originally known as the "Master of the Railway". He is grand, masterful, mature, wise, very dignified, enormously kind and is able to find good in any engine he meets. He has an appreciation for serenity and order and often thinks fondly of his homeland, far away, where he was once one of the strongest engines. Hiro fell victim to neglect when waiting upon parts to arrive for him from his home country, when he began to break down and became lost. He was eventually rediscovered by Thomas, who, despite some problems in worrying about sharing the discovery of Hiro with the Fat Controller, helped Hiro to be fully restored to his former glory.

Hiro continues to be gentle, wise and graceful, as well as a useful engine on the railway and a good friend to the other engines, especially Thomas. He does not appear to hold a grudge; in his first appearance, he helped Spencer after an accident, despite Spencer previously trying to send Hiro to the smelter's yard. Hiro is also very close to his friends on Sodor, knowing that even in a different location they will always be his friends.

Technical Details


Hiro is based on a Japanese National Railways (JNR) Class D51 2-8-2 "Mikado" built by Kawasaki and popularly known as "Degoich" in Japan. Mikado means the emperor of Japan. These were primarily used as goods locomotives and were an adaptation of the earlier Class D50. 1,115 class D51 locomotives were built between 1936-1951, becoming Japan's most mass-produced steam locomotive. Two examples of this class are preserved in working order in Japan. During World War II, they were used to supply weapons and vehicles for the Japanese Imperial Army. In addition to Japan, members of this class have been built for export to South Korea, Taiwan and the USSR, totalling 1,184 locomotives. Hiro is standard gauge, while most D51s were built for 3'6" gauge (cape gauge 1,067mm), though the two examples of his class exported to South Korea (KNR Class Mika7) were built to standard gauge. Over 170 of these engines are preserved throughout Japan, two of which are in working order, while four are preserved in Taiwan (Taiwan Railways DT650) and eleven in Russia (Soviet Railways D51). Unlike the D51s in Japan, Taiwan and Russia, the D51s in South Korea have no smoke deflectors.

Though Hiro's number is a reference to his basis' name, there was a D51 with the number 51. However, unlike Hiro, the real engine was an earlier build of the D51 class, with its dome flush with its funnel. It was preserved at Torokko Saga Station in Kyoto, Japan until February 2020, when it was scrapped due to issues that arose from it being stored outside. Hiro also has a buffer-beam fitted on his front and on the back of his tender. His livery is based on the Soviet Railways D51.


Hiro is painted black with gold lining, boiler bands and fittings and red wheels. His number (51) is painted on the sides of his tender in white and he has gold nameplates, with his name in black on the sides of his smoke deflectors.

His "patchwork" colour scheme consists of a blue boiler with gold lining, a green feedwater heater, a green left smoke deflector, a purple right smoke deflector, a bronze dome, green pistons and rusted-red coloured wheels except for the right rear driving wheel which was rusted-blue. Two more parts, the part between his lamp and funnel and the part under his face, were also green.


Thomas & Friends


Music Videos



Magazine Stories

Annual Stories

  • 2011 - Hiro Helps Out
  • 2013 - Hiro Helps Out
  • 2013 Holiday Annual - The Biggest Present of All


Official Description

From Official Website[1]

Hiro: Hiro is an old 'Japanese' engine. He was the first engine to arrive on Sodor, but was left in a forgotten corner of Sodor until Thomas found him and helped to fix him up. Now he occasionally returns to Sodor to visit his new friends. He is old, wise, very dignified and enormously kind. In his hey day, he was known as the Master of the Railway.

From Official Website[2]

Hiro: Hiro is a wise and enormously kind, older Japanese engine. The first engine to arrive on the Island of Sodor, he was forgotten until Thomas found and helped repair him.

Fun Fact: In his heyday, he was known as the Master of the Railway.

From Official Website[3]

Hiro: Hiro was the first steam engine to arrive on the Island of Sodor and was originally know as the "Master of the Railway." Hiro is one of the oldest and strongest engines on the Island.

Fun Fact: Hiro is based on a Japanese National Railways Class D51 built by Kawasaki.

Audio Files


Hiro's whistle is the Southern Railway 4501's Princeton Steptop 3-chime at a deeper pitch.

First used Last used Sound Effect
Hero of the Rails Series 24

In the Misty Island Rescue PC game, Hiro is incorrectly portrayed with Lady and Millie's whistle.

First used Last used Sound Effect
Misty Island Rescue (PC game) Misty Island Rescue (PC game)

In one scene in Signals Crossed, Hiro is incorrectly portrayed with Connor's whistle.

First used Last used Sound Effect
Signals Crossed Signals Crossed

In the Read and Play! app, Hiro is incorrectly portrayed with a different whistle, which is also the same whistle sound used by Douglas and Stafford in the same app.

First used Last used Sound Effect
Read and Play! Read and Play!

In one scene in Journey Beyond Sodor, Hiro incorrectly has Sam's whistle at one step higher in pitch.

First used Last used Sound Effect
Journey Beyond Sodor Journey Beyond Sodor

In one scene in Journey Beyond Sodor, Hiro is incorrectly portrayed with another different whistle, which is Connor's at a step lower-pitched.

First used Last used Sound Effect
Journey Beyond Sodor Journey Beyond Sodor


  • Hiro is the first of a few things:
    • The first character to have the same voice actor in both English dubs.
    • The first character to be created in CGI without having a live-action model.
    • The first 2-8-2 in the television series.
  • Hiro's character is designed as being the first engine on Sodor. Taking his basis into account, this would be historically inaccurate, as Hiro's class would not have been built until 1935.
  • Hiro’s whistle is a stock sound effect that came from the real American locomotive Southern Railway #4501 albeit in a low pitch.
  • According to Christopher Skala, Hiro was originally going to be painted blue. This carried on to his patchwork model.
  • Hiro has only been partially modified to work on Sodor. He has been scaled up to standard gauge and has been given buffers on his front and his tender. But oddly enough, he has a chain and hook coupler on the back of his tender and a buckeye coupler on his front. This would make Hiro pulling rolling stock or another engine backwards or being pulled away by another engine from his front physically impossible, unless a special adapter used to connect the buckeye coupler as fitted onto his chain coupler or a pin was put on top of his knuckle coupler so he could couple from the front similar to Vinnie from The Great Race.
  • In the Norwegian narration, Hiro is known as "The King of the Railway".
  • Prior to the twenty-fourth series, Hiro was never outright stated to be Japanese in the English narrations. Japan was typically referred to as "Hiro's island" or "Hiro's homeland".
  • According to the Japanese narration, Hiro is owned by Sir Takaboushi Hideki, who is also good friends with the Fat Controller.
  • According to an interview with John Lee, Hiro was going to have a different name.[3]
  • In the seventeenth and eighteenth series, Hiro's lining on the bottom right-hand (viewers' left-hand) side of his cab is not painted very neatly. This was fixed in the nineteenth series onwards.
  • Hiro was the last new character to be produced in the Take Along toy-line before it was bought by Fisher-Price and renamed Take-n-Play.
  • Despite participating in the Great Railway Show, he does not get his own promotional video. The same goes for James.
  • During production of Hero of the Rails, merchandising reference faces were created for Hiro along with Victor and Kevin to be sent to merchandise makers. Only two face masks of Hiro are known to have been produced.
  • His name has four meanings: 裕 means "abundant". 寛 means "generous, tolerant" and 浩 means "prosperous".
  • On the magazines file fact, it is stated that Hiro is on loan to the Fat Controller from a Japanese Railway.
  • Hiro's eccentric rods are not animated properly as they do not complete a full rotation around his larger connecting rods.
  • Hiro is the only international engine to return to his home country after moving to Sodor and the only one to appear before his country's formal introduction.
  • Hiro's whistle was later reused at a higher pitch for one of The Mean Engines and at an even higher pitch for Rajinda.
  • Hiro's whistle sound in Journey Beyond Sodor is Connor's at a step lower in pitch.
  • Hiro is the second character in the television series to have smoke deflectors, the first being Murdoch, although if Gordon Goes Foreign was made, Hiro would've been the third.
  • Hiro is one of the four engines to be saved from scrap. The others being Oliver, Stepney and Glynn.


“Why do they call you Master of the Railway, Hiro?”
“I don't know, Thomas. But aren't you a little Master of the Railway yourself?”
―Thomas and Hiro, Helping Hiro



* RWS only | ** T&F only | --- Dropped
International Characters

* RWS only | ** T&F only | ✦ Changed location