Thomas the Tank Engine Wikia
For other uses, see James (disambiguation).

“You've made the most troublesome trucks on the line behave. After that performance, you deserve to keep your red coat.”
Sir Topham Hatt praising James[src]

James is a red mixed-traffic tender engine who works on the North Western Railway and is the railway's number 5 engine.

He primarily works on the Main Line, pulling both passenger and goods trains.


James' ego sometimes gets him in trouble. When he tried to switch his job of pulling trucks with Gordon's express train, he tricked Thomas to give him the express coaches by telling him that the Fat Controller ordered him to take the coaches. However, the Fat Controller heard about James' tricks from Gordon and his driver, and punished him by leaving him in the shed until he learned his lesson. The following day, he was allowed out to shunt trucks, but also got the chance to redeem himself when an inspector requested to ride with James to the Fat Controller. They arrived on time and the Fat Controller considered James a really useful engine.

James' ego has sometimes stopped him from following advice from others. When Percy and Terence tried to warn him about the dangers of trees getting too close to the line, he did not take any notice until a tree literally too close to the line slid on James' tracks. Luckily, Thomas came to his rescue and pulled James away just before the tree fell on him.

James' teasing has also backfired; after he saw Percy being a "middle engine" and made fun of him because of it, James later ended up being made a middle engine himself for which he was teased by Percy. ​​He's also shown to care a lot about his paintwork, having refused to help Percy at the coaling plant because of his admiration of it, wanting to stay nice and clean to be the star of the show and refused to travel across muddy tracks to not get it dirty.

After Thomas told Percy about footprints he had seen at the quarry, James started teasing Percy about a monster being on Sodor. After James himself ended up in mishaps of his own, he decided to make fun of Percy by making him think there was a monster. James was later forced by Thomas to apologise, but Percy refused to listen to what he thought was more of James' teasing which led to James venturing into the quarry to look for the footprints. This ended up causing a rockslide that Percy had to rescue him from, after which James apologised for everything.

The Adventure Begins

James in his original livery

James arrived on the North Western Railway sometime before Thomas' arrival and after Gordon, and he was originally painted black with wooden brake blocks, which were prone to burning up and emitting smoke when stopping. He originally owned Annie and Clarabel and believed that he would be given his own branch line, although the other engines doubted this.

When Thomas came to Sodor, James teased him on several occasions for making mistakes, often joining in with Gordon to make fun of him. However, one day, James ran out of control with a goods train and was unable to stop due to his brake blocks being on fire. Thomas chased after the train and tried to slow it down, but James flew off a bend and crashed in a field, the crash badly damaging him. Thomas rushed back to Knapford and retrieved Judy and Jerome, who helped to clear away the wreckage and placed James back on the rails. James was sent to the Steamworks to be mended, where he received his new red livery. Upon returning from the Steamworks, James found out that Annie and Clarabel now belonged to Thomas, who had been given the responsibility of running the Ffarquhar Branch Line. [9]


James is very proud of his splendid red paintwork. He dislikes pulling trucks (though not to the extent that Gordon does) and is so narcissistic that he thinks himself superior to the others and can be shallow, boastful, overconfident, arrogant, cocky, prideful, naughty and vain, particularly to those who appear old-fashioned, weak, slow or dirty. This has caused him to have somewhat of a rivalry with Edward, Percy, Toby and Duck, as well as Thomas, Gordon, Henry and even Philip lately on occasion. His vanity reached the point that he tried to block Edward from a photographer's view when Edward was having his picture taken and when he tried to get his work done quick so he can take the present train. In most cases, it takes scolding from others to make his penny drop, and even then it is too late to prevent trouble. He has acted like this even before he was repainted red. However, on a number of occasions, he has found himself in need of help from those whom he has insulted and is, in the end, apologetic.

James was the last of the steam engines to retain a prejudice against diesels, insulting them the same way other visiting diesels would insult the steam engines on Sodor, with BoCo and Bear barely being spared from his opinionated view. However, after stalling on a cold day, he was rescued by the Works Diesel and had to admit that nothing was wrong with diesels. This appears to be one of the few lessons that have stuck. Despite this, James can remain highly opinionated on someone's character, refusing to believe Sonny had given up life as a criminal, only to find out the hard way that when Sonny bumped him at the docks to save him from being splattered and dented by watermelons. In similar situations, James often feels remorse and guilt for his actions, often leading to his apologies coming out meekly.

James can also be somewhat and has been portrayed as a prankster at times, often tricking or scaring the other engines for fun or to get out of jobs he dislikes doing. However, following a particularly mean-spirited prank he played on Percy in the time he scared with a monster made of scrap, this gimmick seems to have died down. As of the meeting videos, he has been labelled as the "Joker" of the Steam Team by Thomas.

Despite all of that, James has shown a caring side to him. He has a heart of gold and wants to help anyone in a time of need. He is normally hard-working and, like everyone else, wants to be responsible, reliable and really useful on the Fat Controller's railway. Although his vanity usually hides it, James is capable of realizing when he crosses the line, and quietly mourns for himself and others once it occurs after an accident of his causing.

Of the three big engines, James is the most likely to criticize when he does not like something, though beyond this, his role in the trio between Gordon, Henry and himself is unknown.

Technical Details


James is based on a Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway (L&YR) Class 28, a class of 0-6-0 mixed-traffic tender locomotive designed by George Hughes for the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway and built by Horwich Works between 1909 and 1912. Many were rebuilds of Aspinall's Class 27, with the addition of a Belpaire firebox, a Schmidt/ "Top & Bottom"/"twin-plug" superheater and the extension of the footplate and front sandboxes. One Class 27, 52322, survives and is operational at the Ribble Steam Railway.

James is an experimental member of the Class 28s; he is fitted with a front pony truck (thus making him a 2-6-0 instead of an 0-6-0) and has a Fowler tender. His front sandboxes also appear to be mounted underneath his footplate rather than joined to his leading splashers.


James is painted in scarlet red with black lining and yellow cab window frames. He has gold boiler bands and a brass dome. His number (5) is painted on his tender in yellow with a black outline. He has a white running board with red bufferbeams and valences.

James has also been seen in several other liveries aside from his red one:

  • In The Adventure Begins, James is shown to be painted black with red lining and boiler bands when he is new to Sodor. He also had red lining on the back of his tender, which was removed after his repaint. This livery also appears in Meet James - albeit with gold boiler bands instead of red - as part of a reference to the episode.
  • In The Green Controller, James was mistakenly painted in yellow and black stripes on Percy's orders. He was quickly repainted back into his original livery when the problem was noticed.
  • In Tickled Pink, James was painted in a pink undercoat before his standard red coat could be applied. Although he was said to be in an undercoat, James still retained his lining, number and black wheels and smokebox. This livery also appears in Meet James as part of a reference to the episode.
  • In The Great Race, James was painted in golden floral patterns for the Great Railway Show. He was painted back into his original livery when he returned to Sodor.
  • In An Engine of Many Colours, after hearing Kevin mention the Steamworks did not have any red paint, James dreamed he was painted in many different liveries including blue, green and silver and many more on a turntable near the last dream's final scenes. By the end of the episode, he was repainted in his standard red livery.


Thomas & Friends


Music Videos

Learning Segments


Magazine Stories

James also appeared in the magazine stories, A Colourful Christmas, A Long Way Up!, A Special Story about Steam, Back-to-Front, Bricks and Tunnels, Building Blues!, Clever Climbers!, Coal Weather, Daisy's Day, Diesel's Drums, Diesel's Nasty Turn, Doctors and Nurses, Fast Food!, Fish and Fog!, Fishy Diesel!, Flying James, Gordon the Town Engine, Harvest, Jack Frost, James and Edward, James and the Cheese, Lazy Wheels, Leaves on the Line, Luggage, Party Time!, Percy's House, Picture Posters, Puzzles, Railway Open Day, Really Useful Edward, Rushing Around, Scaredy Puffer!, Sea Sick, Seeing Steam, Ship Ahoy!, Sodor's Strong Man, Special Passengers, Special Treats, The Best Band, The Best Engine, The Flower Dome, The Flyover!, The Haunted Mine, The Smartest Engine, The Smugglers, The Tiny Engine and The Very Important Job


Audio Files


First used Last used Composers Theme Song
Series 1 Series 1 Mike O'Donnell
Junior Campbell
Series 8 Series 12 Robert Hartshorne


First used Last used Sound Effect
Series 1 Learn with Thomas
First used Last used Sound Effect
Hero of the Rails Series 24

Throughout the fourth series, in some scenes of the fifth series and Thomas The Tank Engine (Kids Station Game), James has Duck's whistle sound at seven steps higher in pitch.

First used Last used Sound Effect
Series 4 Go Go Thomas! (2014 version)

In a Nick Jr. ad for Shining Time Station, James has a different whistle.

First used Last used Sound Effect
Nick Jr. Shining Time Station commercial

In the Leapfrog books, James is portrayed with a different whistle.

First used Last used Sound Effect

In 10 Stories from Thomas & Friends, James shares Thomas' whistle from the same sound book.

First used Last used Sound Effect
10 Stories from Thomas & Friends

In Building the New Line, James has Henry's whistle at two steps higher in pitch.

First used Last used Sound Effect
Building the New Line

In Thomas and Toby Narrated by Simon Prebble and the mobile app, Read and Play!, James has Henry's whistle at a lower pitch.

First used Last used Sound Effect
Thomas and Toby Narrated by Simon Prebble Read and Play!

In the game Whistle and Peep, James has Stanley's whistle sound at a higher pitch.

First used Last used Sound Effect
Whistle and Peep


  • James is one of the two engines to be called a red nosed engine. The other being Thomas.
  • Michael Angelis gives James a Liverpudlian accent in the UK version of the live-action model era, but when the show switched from live-action to CGI animation, he gains a Cockney Londoner accent given by Keith Wickham and Rob Rackstraw. In the US dub, he consistently has an American accent, with the exceptions of Ringo Starr's US narrations for the first two seasons, the US narration of Gordon and Spencer done by Michael Angelis where he has his iconic Liverpudlian accent, and in both dubs of The Great Discovery where Pierce Brosnan gave both him and Gordon much more upper class voices.
  • James's catchphrase "Here's James!" seems to be a reference to Jack Torrance's catchphrase "Here's Johnny!" which is heard in the famous 1980 horror film The Shining.
  • James' whistle is a synth version of Edward's whistle. A synth is a combination of two sounds to make a harmony. James' whistle is made up of Edwards whistle 1 pitch lower combined with a 7 pitch lower version.
  • In the first series, James was formally introduced in Thomas and the Breakdown Train, which was said to have been his first day on the railway. However, he had appeared in every prior episode as a background character. This may have been done to populate the sets, similar to how the Märklin Engine was used in later episodes.
  • A large scale working replica of James was built by BBC Visual Effects for a tour in 2003, along with Thomas, Percy, Harold and Jack. The battery-powered locomotive is listed in the 2004 Guinness Book of Records as the largest model railway engine ever built, at 2.64 x 1.5 x 6.52 metres.
  • James has been shown to be quite popular among several people who worked on the series:
  • In Toby's New Whistle, James revealed that he once had a three-chime steam whistle.
  • Out of every character in the television series, James has had the most different liveries.
  • From 2017-onwards, James is the only male member of the Steam Team - both original and new - to have the same voice actor in both English language dubs.
  • In some international dubs, James' name was changed:
    • In the French dub of the model series, James was known as Jacques.
    • On early Spanish translations of the Random House books, James was known as Jaime.
  • James' Wooden Railway, Wood, Plarail, Motor Road and Rail, Tomy and TrackMaster toys omit his pilot wheels, making him an 0-6-0 instead of a 2-6-0, much like the real members of his class.
  • James is the only 2-6-0 (mogul) locomotive in the television series to be named and seen.
  • Three of James' Wooden Railway toys (the original, lights and sounds and Team Colours variants) were among the toys that were part of the Lead Paint Crisis in 2005.


“Hello, I'm James. the number five red engine. I'm the brightest red engine on Sodor. Mind my paintwork.”
―James' website audio
“Here's James!”
―James' catchphrase
“I'm a splendid engine. Ready for anything. You never see my paint get dirty.”
―James to Toby in Dirty Objects
“Pulling the mail train is a job for a small engine, like Percy, not a splendid tender engine like me!”
―James to Thomas in The Smelly Kipper
“I'm the fastest red engine on Sodor!”
―James' second catchphrase
“Practice make perfect and that's what I am PERFECT”
―James to Thomas in James The Super Engine


See also


--- Dropped

* 1991-1994 maps only | ** 2014 map only