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“You be thankful, Sir Handel, that we're not a mountain railway."​
"A mountain railway! What's that?"
"A railway that climbs mountains, of course."
"But it can't! Its engine's wheels would slip!”
―Rheneas and Sir Handel arguing about mountain railways

Mountain Engines is the nineteenth book in the Railway Series. It is notable for containing the only appearance of the Culdee Fell Railway, the single major railway in the Railway Series to not have any stories adapted for television.


Dear Friends,
A Rack Railway climbs the mountain called Culdee Fell. Lord Harry Barrane is Chairman of the railway company. Lots of people travel on it in the summer.

Mr Walter Richards, the Manager, does not have an easy time. There are seven engines, one of whom, No. 5, is still away being mended. Another, No. 6, was named Lord Harry. This was a mistake. It made him conceited and... But you must read the stories for yourselves.

I hope you will enjoy this book about a different kind of railway.
The Author


Mountain Engine

Sir Handel is grumpy and complains about the coaches' causing trouble for him. Rheneas tells him that he should be grateful that he does not work on a mountain railway. Sir Handel does not believe such a thing exists, and an argument ensues until Donald arrives with Culdee, a mountain engine. When Culdee wakes up, he tells the little engines about his line, and an adventure he had on his first day when he learned how to use his automatic brakes during a thrilling journey down a mountain.

Bad Look-Out

Duncan is in a bad mood because the Thin Controller says he kept a bad look out, so Skarloey and Rheneas change the subject of the conversation by asking Culdee about his coaches. The discussion soon drifts to Culdee's automatic brakes, and the story of Godred, an engine who held too much faith in his automatic brakes. Despite frequent discipline and investigation into his behaviour, Godred continued in his way. Eventually, Godred fell off the rails and was sent to the back of the shed, where he was cannibalised for spare parts. Sir Handel and Duncan are mortified and remain silent, while Skarloey and Rheneas do not mention the tale was made up.

Danger Points

Donald brings Culdee home, where he discovers that three new engines have arrived: Alaric, Eric and Lord Harry, the latter of whom is loud and impulsive. The next day, Culdee makes fun of Lord Harry's "super-heat" and Lord Harry determines to pay him out. Instead he derails at the summit, preventing Wilfred from taking his "down" train. Lord Harry is subsequently rescued and sent to the back of the Shed in disgrace.

"Devil's Back"

Lord Harry gets his name taken away, now being referred by his #6, and, after hearing Culdee's story of Godred, asks the Manager to be let out. The Manager agrees, but forbids him from pushing passenger trains, so #6 is kept taking supplies and workmen to Summit Hotel. One day, he is preparing to continue up Devil's Back, a difficult part of the line, after a message arrives about a group of injured climbers. Despite the strong wind, #6 perseveres and the leader of the climbers asks the Manager to rename #6 after a friend who helped him when he was injured. Nowadays, #6 is renamed Patrick and only takes risks when absolutely necessary.




  • This is the first Railway Series book not to have any of its stories televised.
  • This was the first and only appearance of the Culdee Fell Railway and its locomotives. The railway would not be mentioned in the series again until Thomas and his Friends in 2011.
    • Christopher Awdry has stated that the reason there are no more books about the Culdee Fell Railway is due to the safety precautions and limited traffic - meaning no more story opportunities.
  • According to an interview, one of the reasons this book did not have any episodes for the television series based on it was because the Culdee Fell Engines were not very merchandisable because of the railway's climbing rack track, the engines' strange angled bodies and also their limited storylines.
  • The story "Bad Look Out" is based on the Snowdon Mountain Railway's opening day accident with their first engine, L.A.D.A.S.
  • The story of Godred is diagetically stated to be fiction. However, The Island of Sodor: Its People, History and Railways shows that Godred indeed crashed and was then dismantled. It can be assumed Awdry amended this story for Mountain Engines to give it a child-friendly ending.
  • The Reverend acknowledged the help given by members of management and staff of the Snowdon Mountain Railway Ltd. in the preparation of this book.
  • The present day events of this book take place in 1963. The flashback events take place in 1900.


  • In the first illustration, Sir Handel's cab roof is white.
  • Skarloey has a numberplate on the back of his cab in the third illustration of "Mountain Engine".
  • In one of Culdee's flashbacks Alaric appears, but Culdee did not learn of Alaric's existence until he returned.
  • Donald has Douglas' tender in the first illustration of "Danger Points".

In Other Languages

Language Title
Chinese 高山小火车
Japanese 山にのぼる機関車
Korean 등산 철도 기관차들