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Tar tankers, also referred to as tar wagons, are used for transporting tar. The tar is mostly used for the roads.

James once crashed into a line of tar tankers after running out of control with a goods train. Some tar tankers were also left at Wellsworth station and were needed to mend the roads.


Sentient tar tankers fall into the category of Troublesome Trucks.

Type of sentient tankers

Technical Details


The tar tankers are based on standard 14 ton pre-war tankers common across most of regions.


The tar tankers are painted black. In the television series, they have the word "TAR" painted in white on both sides. The word is not seen in the Railway Series.



  • Eight tar tanker models are currently on display at Drayton Manor.
  • The tankers had black lines going through their writing in the first series, these lines were re-positioned in the third series and removed completely in the tenth series. The lines were readded on their CGI models, which were based off their series 1 design, albeit with the lines being slightly thinner.
  • The tar tankers were dropped after the CGI switch, with their role being fulfilled by oil tankers. The tar tankers would not appear in CGI until the twenty-third series, ten years after the switch to CGI animation and only a year before the CGI was replaced with 2D animation.
  • The tanker that was destroyed in Dirty Objects had "TAR" written on its front and back ends as well as its sides. This was the only tanker to be designed like this until the twenty-third series where all the tankers now include the extra writing.
  • Some tar tankers with faces appeared in Toad Stands By. The faces were sourced from the narrow gauge slate trucks. Some of these are owned by Twitter user ThomasTankMerch.
  • In the first two series, due to budget limitations, the tar tankers were painted black on one side and white on the other, the latter side being used for the milk tankers.[1] During production of the sixth series, one of the tar tankers was repainted into an oil tanker.
  • In the fourth series, there was only one tar tanker model that had the "TAR" writing on only one side, as seen in Rusty to the Rescue.



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