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The Rainbow Sun is Billy Twofeathers' locomotive and one of several that run on the Indian Valley Railroad.


Thomas and the Magic Railroad

Throughout the film, the Rainbow Sun is seen multiple times being driven by Billy Twofeathers. Later on in the film, Mutt convinces Lily to board a train hauled by the locomotive, which takes her to Shining Time instead of the train to Muffle Mountain.

Technical Details


In the opening sequence for Shining Time Station, it was portrayed by the Union Pacific #844, a 4-8-4 locomotive built in 1944 which was the only steam locomotive in the US to operate continuously since entering service, having never been retired. The #844 is still active today as part of the Union Pacific's steam programme along with Big Boy 4014.

In Thomas and the Magic Railroad, it was portrayed by the Strasburg Railroad's #475, a 4-8-0 locomotive built in 1906 and formerly on the roster of the Norfolk & Western Railway. It is one of only two N&W 4-8-0 Mastodon locomotives preserved and the only one of its class operating. #475 is still operating today as one of Strasburg's main locomotives. From August 21 through October 28, 2019, #475 reunited with N&W J Class 4-8-4 #611, which arrived to Strasburg on loan from the Virginia Museum Of Transportation in Roanoke, Virginia.


The Rainbow Sun is painted black with yellow lining and brown window frames. The number "475" is painted on the sides of its cab in gold. It also has the words "Indian Valley" painted on the sides of the tender.


Thomas & Friends


Audio Files


First used Last used Sound Effect
Thomas and the Magic Railroad Thomas and the Magic Railroad


  • The Rainbow Sun was seen in the Thomas and the Magic Railroad (activity book), but was illustrated as an E2 class tank engine like Thomas and had the number 90 like the Strasburg Railroad's ex-Great Western No. 90.
  • The Rainbow Sun was not referred to by name in the final cut of the film, and was only named on Shining Time Station and in deleted scenes.
  • The lettering for the Indian Valley Railroad was applied to the engine and three of the Strasburg Railroad's coaches, but only two coaches were used in the actual film. They retained this lettering during the railroad’s normal operations for some time after.
  • 475 also occasionally operates on Day Out with Thomas events to haul the Strasburg Railroad's tourist train. If it does not run, then either #90 or #89 will run.
  • Between 2004-2019, the locomotive was backdated to its original as-built N&W appearance.
    • In 2019, the locomotive is backdated again to its 1940s-1950s appearance with a centre headlight.
  • Keith W. Strandberg the production manager rode on one of the coaches, while he made a cameo appearance in the film.
  • The Rainbow Sun's whistle sound basically came from Canadian National 3254's 5-chime whistle, which was out of tune during the 1980s and was recorded as a stock sound effect used in various other pieces of media. It was later reused for the following characters in the franchise:
  • The Rainbow Sun's bell sound, which was heard at the Big City station, and leave Shining Time Station while leaving Mutt, basically came from Baldwin No. 26. The bell was recorded as a stock sound effect used in various other pieces of media.
  • In a deleted scene, P.T. Boomer was heading to Shining Time Station while riding on a motorcycle and he beat the Rainbow Sun at a crossing, and got across just in time.
  • The reason that #844 didn’t reprise its role as the Rainbow Sun for the movie was because it was out of service due to boiler tube failure, and was found to have been made of the wrong material during the overhaul in 1996, a discovery that prompted the replacement of the firebox in a complete overhaul that lasted from September 2001 to 2004.
    • The reason that the 475 was used because of inspirartion from rail photographer O Winston Link's pictures along the Norfolk and Western's Abingdon Branch, of which #475 was the sole surviving engine from that branch.

See also

International Characters

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