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“Make way for an important engine!"
"You wouldn't feel important if one of these trees crashed onto you. You'd feel hurt!"
"Rubbish! It wouldn't dare!"
"You should be careful, James. Trees can be just as powerful as engines.”
―James, Percy and Terence

James and the Trouble with Trees is the fifth episode of the fifth series. It aired back to back with Make Someone Happy on Storytime with Thomas in the US.


Thomas has been working hard at the coaling plant all day and is disappointed when he cannot receive a washdown due to a broken hosepipe - as it would make him feel much better - and is afraid that the other engines will make fun of his dirty paintwork. However, when Thomas comes back to the sheds, he finds James boasting; he is being given a new coat of paint the next day, as the Fat Controller has told him that he is the pride of the line. Henry contradicts James by saying they are all pride of the line. Thomas crossly declares that he is the one who needs a new coat of paint. James retorts that he's not a pleasant sight and wouldn't understand the needs of a really important engine, leaving Thomas fuming.

The next morning, while James is being repainted, Henry is shunting some trucks, only for them to unintentionally run into a few solid boxes and the first two to derail. James suggests he should go talk to a tree instead if he cannot push trucks properly, especially since he loves the forest. Henry tells James that the Fat Controller has been inspecting the island and removing trees that are too close to the line, worrying for their potential to cause trouble. James scoffs that if he came upon a tree, he'd just push it aside, but Henry isn't convinced. Later, James meets Thomas, Percy and Terence while in the forest removing the trees. Percy and Terence try to warn him about how trees can be just as powerful as engines, but the vain red engine just ignores them and he sets off for the station to pull the Express.

When James arrives at the station, however, the Fat Controller tells him he needs James to fetch an important goods train instead. James complains that he has been repainted and asks if Thomas or Percy can do it as they are dirty and like working with trucks, but the Fat Controller tells him that, "Really Useful Engines don't argue." This puts James in a very bad mood. At the docks, the weather has changed significantly and the trucks tease James before he sets off with the train. They soon reach a hill and begin to climb, only for the wind to start blowing an old tree that is by the side of the line which makes it start to slide onto the tracks due to rain weakening the soil. James comes to a stop and tries to reverse, but the train is too heavy. Luckily for him, Thomas comes to his rescue. At first James is embarrassed and afraid Thomas will tease him, but Thomas knows this is no time for that. Thomas couples to the back of the train and helps James move out of the way just in time before the tree falls over.

Back at the yard, James thanks Thomas for rescuing him. Edward comes in to tell them that the Fat Controller says that they are both brave engines. As a reward, Thomas will get a new coat of paint, while James will finally pull the Express, making them both very happy.




  • This episode is inspired by an event that occurred during David Maidment's time as stationmaster of Aberbeeg (1964-1965): During a storm, a tree slid down a bank and stood upright in the middle of the track between Ebbw Vale and Aberbeeg.
  • This episode marks Terence's first speaking role since the third series episode, Thomas and Percy's Christmas Adventure.
  • This episode marks the first and only appearance of The Unsafe Tree Hill.
  • This episode marks the last appearance of The Painter.
  • The scene of the tree sliding down the embankment is similar to the scene in the 1970 British film adaptation of E. Nesbit's classic children's novel, The Railway Children, when the three children watch trees sliding down a cutting, causing rocks to fall onto the rails.
  • Scrap pieces of the Märklin Engine and the goods engine from TUGS can be spotted at Wellsworth at the end.
  • This is the last episode to feature Lynton and Barnstaple Railway Vans with faces.
  • When James says, “Make way for an important engine!” Duck’s theme is used.
  • In the US and international dubs, when the Troublesome Trucks derail, the crash sounds are different from the UK dub.
  • Henry's statement that the Fat Controller is having trees that are close to the line removed for fear that they will end up causing trouble might have been a response to Wilbert Awdry's criticism of the third series episode, Henry's Forest. Part of his criticism of the episode was about the trees being too close to the line and thus, could catch fire from sparks out of Henry's funnel.
  • In the US, this episode aired before A Better View for Gordon meaning the American audience may would not have known about Gordon's View at Kirk Ronan unless they had already seen said episode on the Cranky Bugs and Other Thomas Stories release.


  • Thomas is covered in coal dust at the beginning of the episode, but when James is warned about the trees and when Thomas rescues James, Thomas is clean. Then when James apologises to Thomas, he is covered in coal dust again.
  • In the Japanese version, Henry has Gordon's voice during the scene at Tidmouth Sheds.
  • In the scene of Thomas and Percy looking angry, the latter's face is crooked.
  • When James is being repainted, one of the painters' heads is on backwards.
  • When Henry is shunting the trucks, he is coming from a dead end.
  • James says he is to pull the Express, but he couples up to red coaches.
  • After James leaves Brendam Docks, his trucks lose their faces.
  • In the first close-up of James looking shocked, his face is dry, but in the next close-up of him looking shocked, his face is wet. Also, the edge of the set can be seen.
  • When James' driver applies his brakes to prevent hitting the tree, James' pony truck wheels derailed.
  • From James' point-of-view when he stops in front of the tree, the camera was obviously wet, as a white smudge mark can be seen across the tree trunk.
  • In the second and third close-ups of James looking shocked, a white light is seen in the top-left corner and James is on the other side of the set as the tree can be seen behind him.
  • At the shunting yard, the two trucks to James' right move positions between the wide and close-up shots.
  • When Thomas is being coupled up to James' brake van, he is some centimetres away from it. But when Thomas says "I'm ready!" his buffers are touching the brake van's buffers.
  • When Thomas and James start to back away from the tree, Thomas' driver's head looks up (possibly coming off its joints). In addition, the tree is standing up again and James' brake pipe is crooked.
  • James has his Series 4 whistle sound when he leaves the forest, Kirk Ronan and Brendam Docks.


James: If you can't push trucks/cars properly, Henry, why not talk to a tree instead? You know how much you like the forest.
Henry: As a matter of fact, bossy boiler, the Fat Controller/Sir Topham Hatt is inspecting the island for trees that are too close to the line. He's worried they might cause trouble.
James: Ha! If I came upon a tree, I'd just push it aside!
Henry: Really?!

James: Make way for an important engine!
Percy: You wouldn't feel important if one of these trees crashed on you. You'd feel hurt.
James: Rubbish! It wouldn't dare!
Terence: You should be careful, James. Trees can be just as powerful as engines.
James: Oh, please!

Truck: Your colour's nice, James. Pity about your face, though!


In Other Languages

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Language Title
Brazilian Portuguese O Problema com Árvores
Chinese Mandarin 詹姆士及来自树的故障
Czech Kubovo a trápení se stromy
Danish James og Hans Møde Med et Træ
Dutch James Heeft Problemen Met Bomen
French James a des Problèmes Avec Les Arbres
German James und die Geschichte mit dem Baum
Greek Το ατύχημα του Τζίμι
Hungarian James és a Fa
Italian Temporale per James
Japanese ジェームスがあぶない
Korean 제임스와 궂은 날씨 (DVD Acadamy)
진정한 우정 (EBS)
Latin American Spanish James en Peligro
Norwegian James og Trøbbel Med Trærne
Polish James i Kłopoty z Drzewami (Original)
Kuba i Problem z Drzewami (Alternate)
Romanian James și Necazul cu Copacii
Russian Джеймс и проблемы с деревьями
Slovenian Jakob in Težave z Drevesi
Swedish Trädtrubbel för James
Welsh Helynt y Coed

Home Media Releases


DVD Boxsets


DVD Packs


DVD Packs

  • Complete Series 1-10
  • Classic Collection
  • Series Five and Series Six Double Pack


  • Happy Ever After (VHS)



DVD Boxsets









DVD Boxsets