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“I want to go to places and do things, I want to..."
"...See the world!”
―Thomas and the other engines.

The Adventure Begins is the first 2015 Thomas & Friends special running for approximately forty-five minutes and is an adaptation of the first two books of The Railway Series, which were previously adapted for the first series in 1984. It was made to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the franchise. The special was originally released as a Walmart exclusive in the US and in the Canada and later as an ASDA exclusive in the UK before becoming widely available in both countries.


The Adventure Begins is a computer animated retelling of the first seven episodes of the first series of the television series, which were based on the first two Railway Series books (The Three Railway Engines and Thomas the Tank Engine). It contains elements from both the original stories and their previous adaptations, along with three new characters, new arrangements of two songs from the live action model era (Really Useful Engine and Troublesome Trucks) and a completely different narrative.


A long time ago, there was a little railway known as The North Western. The engines working there are Edward, the smallest engine, who shunted trains for the bigger engines and Gordon, the biggest engine, who loves pulling the express; unfortunately, he sometimes has to pull trucks. One day, Gordon is pulling a goods train and informs Edward that a new engine will be arriving soon. Edward is very surprised and curious by this. Gordon goes on explaining how the last engine to arrive, who has wooden brake blocks, is too small. Suddenly the engine, James, pulls in front of them, protesting that he is not small and that there is nothing wrong with his wooden brakes.

Gordon continues on with his goods train, but when he reaches the big hill on the main line, the trucks hold him back and he refuses to try and make it to the top. His driver makes a phone call to Sir Topham Hatt, the railway's controller. Sir Topham Hatt sends Edward to give Gordon a push and together they make it to the top of the hill. But Gordon just continues on his way without even saying thank you to Edward.

Later, Edward is shunting when he hears a voice he has never heard before. He finds James talking to a tank engine with six small wheels, a short stumpy funnel, a short stumpy boiler and a short stumpy dome. Edward does not expect the new engine to be so small. The tank engine introduces himself as Thomas and the two tender engines welcome him to Sodor. Gordon arrives and scoffs at Thomas' claim that he is really useful for anything more than shunting coaches. As Gordon leaves, Edward apologises for Gordon’s scoffing by telling Thomas that he’s often like that. Edward and James introduce themselves to Thomas before Sir Topham Hatt arrives and gives Thomas his orders to make himself useful and that Edward will show him what to do.

Thomas and Edward set to work shunting trains for the big engines. But all day long Thomas gets himself into trouble by bumping trucks and going onto the wrong tracks. Later, Thomas spies Gordon sleeping on a siding and wakes him up with a toot of his whistle, leaving Gordon very cross.

That night, Thomas arrives at Tidmouth Sheds and pulls into the berth beside Edward. He is excited about pulling trains soon, but Edward knows that he has to learn how to shunt properly first. Then a big green engine pulls into the sheds, wanting to get into his berth quickly before it rains. Edward tells Thomas about Henry and how much he does not like rain. Edward then tells the story of how Henry refused to leave a tunnel in case the rain spoiled his paint. After the passengers and even another engine could not get him out, the Fat Controller had a wall built in front of him and left him there. Edward begins to explain how Henry was allowed out after Gordon burst his safety valve outside the tunnel, but Gordon interrupts him, not wanting to be embarrassed in front of the new engine, but claims he wants to get to sleep.

The next day, Thomas is sent to the Sodor Steamworks to be painted into the colours Sir Topham Hatt likes to see on his railway - blue with red stripes. Thomas shows Edward his paint as well as his new number one. The other engines tell Thomas about the previous number one, who was a coffee pot engine. Edward has a train to pull so Thomas goes to fetch Gordon's express coaches, but he accidentally couples to two small coaches named Annie and Clarabel, who belong to James. Thomas kindly apologises, explaining how he is new. The coaches think he is a very sweet engine and Annie seems sure that he will go far one day.

Thomas spends all day working on his own, but it is hard work and he continues causing problems. Late in the afternoon, James pulls in with Annie and Clarabel and screeches to a stop next to Thomas, who notices a smoky smell. It is coming from James' wooden brakes, but James pretends not to notice. Thomas sees Henry taking on water and asks him why he has a fear of rain, explaining how it is just water, like he puts in his boiler and that he should not spend all day worrying. Henry claims that he is usually very happy, when it is sunny.

The next morning, Thomas' fire is slow to start, making him late to bring Gordon's coaches to the platform. Gordon is still grumpy that Thomas woke him up by whistling, so when Thomas brings him his coaches, Gordon makes a plan. As soon as he is coupled up, he quickly pulls away before the workmen have a chance to uncouple Thomas from the other end of the train. Thomas is forced to race along with the express as Gordon taunts him, all the way to Wellsworth. As soon as the train stops, an exhausted Thomas is uncoupled and he goes to a water tower for a drink; Gordon laughs and continues on his way.

Thomas is later shunting when he spots two very strange looking trucks on a siding. He wakes them up, causing them to panic, wondering what the emergency could be. Annie and Clarabel explain that the trucks, Judy and Jerome, are cranes who make up the breakdown train. They tell Thomas that the cranes are used to lift things back onto the tracks. James pulls in with a goods train, ready to take the coaches; Thomas notices the burning smell again, but once again James pretends that he has not seen or smelled any smoke, this time blowing the smoke away.

The next morning, Henry is feeling ill, so Thomas thinks he might have a chance to take Henry's train. When Henry still does not come, the Fat Controller decides that Thomas is the only engine available. But Thomas is too excited to listen to Sir Topham's instructions and after hearing a guard's whistle for Edward’s Train on the other platform, he pulls away without his train; he hurries along thinking pulling a train is easy. He comes to a red signal where the signalman asks him where his coaches are. Thomas is shocked and very sad that he has left his train behind. He comes back to Knapford where all the passengers are complaining and finally does as he is told, but he still feels miserable.

That night, Gordon and James find the story of Thomas' train very amusing. But Edward feels sorry for Thomas and asks him if he would like to take his train of trucks in the morning; Thomas happily agrees.

The next day, Thomas can hardly contain his excitement. He and Edward make their way to the train of trucks, but Edward tries to warn Thomas about how much trouble the trucks can cause. Thomas feels confident and pulls away, but the trucks try to hold back. As he finally leaves, Edward calls out to Thomas to be careful.

Thomas makes his way along the line, with the trucks getting crosser and crosser. He comes to Gordon's Hill and struggles to make his way to the top. But as soon as they begin to run down the other side, the trucks see their chance. They push Thomas hard, causing him to run down the track at high speed. Thomas flies down the line until he is sent into a siding at Maron and finally comes to a stop in front of some buffers. The Fat Controller has seen all and is cross with both Thomas and Edward. He orders the two engines to stay in the yard until Thomas knows as much about trucks as Edward.

Thomas and Edward are shunting when they notice a train at the platform without an engine. Thomas realises that it is raining and races back to the sheds, where he finds Henry. He once again tells Henry about how rain is just water like he puts in his boiler and Henry finally comes out into the rain, very happy.

Thomas begins to work hard, now that he knows he is not as clever as he first thought. But as he is talking to Edward, James rushes through the yard with a train of trucks, screaming and with black smoke coming from his brakes; the trucks are pushing him and Thomas bravely hurries after James.

Out on the main line, James begs the trucks to stop pushing him, but they take no notice. Thomas runs alongside James and tells him to use his brakes, but they are already on fire, making them useless against the trucks. Thomas allows James to overtake him so that he can switch onto his line and have the guard couple Thomas to the brake van so that he can slow the train down. After multiple failed attempts to couple Thomas up, James goes around a bend too fast, tipping onto his side and sliding along a field. The train falls off the track with him. Thomas is shocked and after seeing that the guard is okay, he tells James that he will get help.

Thomas heads into Knapford Yard and wakes up Jerome and Judy again, letting them know that this time there really is an emergency. The two cranes and the workmen are soon ready and Thomas sets off. The Fat Controller demands to know what Thomas is doing, but Thomas tells him that this is an emergency.

At the accident site, Thomas pushes the unhurt trucks away while Jerome and Judy lift a very battered and dirty James back onto the tracks. The Fat Controller tells Thomas to take James to the Steamworks while Edward takes away the cranes.

Later that night, at Tidmouth Sheds, the workmen and engines cheer for Thomas. Even Gordon is impressed. Sir Topham tells everyone how James will be fitted with proper brakes and given a new coat of paint and he is going to give Thomas his own branch line for being so brave; Thomas is delighted. Gordon asks the Fat Controller who will shunt the trucks and coaches while Thomas is away. Sir Topham tells him that until he can find another small tank engine, he might have to do it himself. Gordon is distraught at hearing this, but the other engines laugh.

A few days later, Thomas and Edward are in the yard when they see a red engine approaching. It is James in his new bright red paintwork and with new proper brakes. James asks Edward to fetch his coaches, but Annie and Clarabel tell him that they belong to Thomas now. He collects them and sets off on his way, but not forgetting to wake up Gordon first.

Thomas happily chuffs along the branch line with Annie and Clarabel. He pulls into Ffarquhar and is surprised to see a coffee pot engine on one of the sidings, covered in moss. The engine tells him to wear his number one with pride and as Thomas leaves, the engine introduces himself as Glynn. Thomas continues on his way, as happy as can be to be starting his new life on the Island of Sodor.


Characters Introduced



UK, AUS and NZ

US and CAN

Bonus Features





  • This special was made to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the franchise. Sodor Island Fansite hinted on Twitter that, if the special sold well, a follow-up would be possible. The special was also hoped to be the start of a new 'mini special' series.
  • This is also the second special to celebrate the franchise's anniversary, the first being Calling All Engines! for the 60th anniversary in 2005.
  • The events of the first series episodes Edward and Gordon, The Sad Story of Henry, Thomas and GordonThomas' Train, Thomas and the Trucks and Thomas and the Breakdown Train are featured and remade. The events of Edward, Gordon and Henry are also briefly mentioned. The events are also shown in the exact order they come in the Railway Series books. Due unknown reasons, Edward's Day Out wasn't retold in this special.
  • The Fat Controller says that the big engines "would have to fetch their own coaches until he can get another small engine," which foreshadows both Percy's arrival and the events of the first series episode, Trouble in the Shed.
  • Starting from this special onwards, James has obtained a habit of declaring "Here's James!" whenever he appears in certain scenes, similar to the 1980 film, The Shining.
  • When James had his black livery, his tender had back lining, but was removed when he was painted back to red. This lining was regained when James imagines himself in different liveries in the twenty-second series episode, An Engine of Many Colours. He gained the lining permanently in his red livery when his model was updated for Series 23.
  • Henry was shown pulling branch line coaches rather than express coaches in Edward's flashback of The Sad Story of Henry. In addition, Henry's train during the events of Thomas' Train is again made up of branch line coaches instead of express coaches.
  • At the beginning of the film, Edward is the first engine to be introduced and Gordon is the second. This is a direct reference to The Three Railway Engines as Edward and Gordon were indeed the first two engines introduced. Also, Thomas is the fourth engine introduced in the special, which also references The Railway Series, as he was indeed the fourth engine introduced.
  • Several recomposed pieces of music from the Gullane Entertainment era are featured. Mike O'Donnell and Junior Campbell receive credit for "original songs and themes." Peter Hartshorne did research on YouTube for inspiration to recompose the pieces.
  • The end credits feature original illustrations from the Railway Series.
  • This special marks the first of several things:
    • The first time Thomas has been seen in a livery other than North Western blue.
    • The first time the North Western Railway is referred to by name in the television series.
    • The first television series production since the fourth series episode, Mind that Bike to directly adapt Railway Series stories, the first to adapt any Railway Series story written by creator Wilbert Awdry since Paint Pots and Queens, and the first complete Railway Series adaptation in the CGI Series.
    • The first appearance of Ffarquhar since Calling All Engines! and its first appearance in CGI.
    • The first appearance of the Watermill since the sixteenth series episode, Salty's Surprise.
    • The first and only time Peter Hartshorne composed the music for a special on his own.
    • The first appearance of the red lining on Thomas' coal bunker since the third series episode, Trust Thomas.
    • The first special not to have Matt Wilkinson as part of the UK voice cast and Glenn Wrage and Jules de Jongh as part of the US cast.
    • The first time since the first series episode, Thomas' Christmas Party that a town on the Mainland (Brighton) is mentioned.
    • The first CGI special not to have a stylised opening sequence.
    • The first special not to feature Percy, Emily (since her introduction in the seventh series), Rosie (since her introduction in the tenth series), Cranky, Kevin (since his introduction in Hero of the Rails), or any talking road vehicles, as this special takes place before they arrived on Sodor.
    • The first production since the sixteenth series episode, Percy and the Calliope to feature recreated classic series music originally composed by Mike O'Donnell and Junior Campbell.
    • The first appearance of the Breakdown Train since the twelfth series episode, Toby's Special Surprise and the first time its Works Unit Coach is seen in its orange/brown livery as well as the first time its cranes have both names and faces.
    • When Thomas goes under the signal box after forgetting the coaches, he whistles and his whistle bounces up and down, exactly the same as to how Nitrogen Studios animated his whistle. This is the first and only time Arc has animated it in this manner.
    • The first special released in the US before the UK since Day of the Diesels.
  • This special brought several casting changes:
    • Keith Wickham takes over the role of Sir Topham Hatt in the US dub.
    • John Hasler, Joseph May, Rob Rackstraw and Christopher Ragland join the voice cast.
    • John Hasler and Joseph May take over the role of Thomas in the UK and US dubs respectively.
    • Rob Rackstraw takes over the role of James in the US dub.
    • Christopher Ragland takes over the role of the Troublesome Trucks in both dubs.
  • This is the only special of a few things:
    • The only time James is seen in his black livery in the television series (aside from a brief flashback to the special in The Fastest Red Engine on Sodor).
    • Being an adaptation of the first two books of the Railway Series and retelling the events of the first seven episodes of the first series, this is the only retelling story to date. This also makes it the only special to not take place between any two series.
    • The only special based on stories from the Railway Series as well as the only television series story based on two books.
    • The only special to feature Rob Rackstraw in the US cast, but not the UK.
    • The only special directed by Don Spencer.
  • In the US version, just before Edward asks "What are you so happy about today, Thomas?" Thomas is humming "Really Useful Engine."
  • This special was shown at The Theater at Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, USA on Tuesday 12th May 2015, the same day of the Railway Series' 70th anniversary. It was also shown on PBS Kids on 11th May. The PBS airings included two Mr. Perkins segments and The Best Friends Express music video at the end to fill the timeslot.
  • This special also aired on Nickelodeon in the US on 12th March 2018, making it the first Thomas and Friends special to air on that channel. It featured the opening and ending from the nineteenth series in place of its own opening and ending. It also featured the Mattel Creations logo at the end instead of the HiT Entertainment logo, probably because they were responsible for the editing of the special when it aired. The beginning was removed, transitional shots were also included to indicate commercial breaks instead of the Mr. Perkins segments and the Best Friends Express song from the end of the PBS Kids airing. The transitions were still intact on the Nick Jr. channel's airing despite only having one commercial break.
  • It was also shown in The Paul Greengrass Cinema in Kent, United Kingdom from 17th to the 27th August.
  • Running at 45 minutes, this is the shortest Thomas & Friends special to date.
  • This special has fewer foreign dubs than any other to date.


  • The US DVD is de-interlaced, thus presenting the feature in 240p, as opposed to full 480p resolution.
  • In the close-up of Gordon when he almost runs into James at the beginning, James' tender appears in its red livery.
  • The tunnel that Gordon emerges from at the beginning is not rendered properly, as it overlaps the rails.
  • When a train is being pulled out of Knapford station, the trucks are separated from each other.
  • In the first scene of Edward shunting, there are two workmen standing at the signal box, but in the next shot they have disappeared.
  • When Gordon first talks to Edward, he passes a signal at least three times between shots. Also, the light of the signal changes from red to green in between the shots.
  • When James moves away from blocking Gordon's line at the beginning, his pony truck does not turn.
  • When the Fat Controller receives a phone call at the beginning, there is a train moving through Knapford with very large gaps between the trucks.
  • When Edward is shunting after helping Gordon, the wheels on the trucks he is pushing slowly stop moving, then stop completely before Edward stops moving.
  • When the Fat Controller first meets Thomas, a train of oil tankers in the background disappear and reappear.
  • When Thomas is looking at the signal gantries before exiting Knapford station, Salty briefly appears pulling some trucks despite not being built or on the Island at this time.
  • When Thomas is shunting some trucks into Knapford, the shadow from the middle truck is missing.
  • In the UK version, James has his US voice when he yells "Thomas, get out of the way!"
  • When Thomas approaches Tidmouth Sheds for the first time, Edward's boiler stripes and the bottom half of his smokebox are missing.
  • While Thomas is being repainted, in the shot of the workman adding the yellow lining to his cab door, the red lining on his tank can be seen but two shots later, the red line is applied.
  • When Thomas mistakes Annie and Clarabel for the express coaches and he pushes them back into the siding, they are lowered down so Thomas' low buffers meet theirs.
  • During the scene where Thomas has trouble waking up, the smoke from Henry's funnel goes through the shed.
  • Between the close-up of Gordon stopping at Wellsworth and another close-up of him saying "Oh yes!" the lighting changes direction.
  • In the first close-up of Thomas after waking up Jerome and Judy, a train of grey vans is in the background. In the next close-up, the train has disappeared.
  • After Annie and Clarabel tell Thomas not to bother Judy and Jerome, James approaches in the background, but there is no steam emitting from his funnel.
  • When Thomas puffs up to the water tower during his montage in the yard, no water is emitted from the spout despite the sound of splashing being heard. This is fixed in the Never Overlook a Little Engine and Rules and Regulations music videos.
  • When Edward says "It's not as easy as you think, Thomas!" the points he is going over are against him and a crew member's hand is emerging through the wall of Edward's cab.
  • When Thomas leaves with his train of trucks, Edward is on a long siding. However, in the next shot, when he says "Thomas, be careful!" he is closer to the buffers.
  • When Thomas leaves the coaches behind, in the very last frame of Thomas leaving Knapford, Edward's front bogie disappears.
  • When Thomas whistles at the waving signalmen, no steam emits from his whistle.
  • When Thomas passes Henry while being pushed by the trucks, both engines are on a curve in the track. However, in the close-ups of Henry, the track is straight.
  • When Henry and Thomas leave Tidmouth Sheds together, Henry's wheels are moving backwards. Additionally, Henry is still laughing, even though his mouth has stopped moving.
  • In one of the promotional images of James during the runaway scene, he has a different brake van than the one in the rendered special.
  • In the US version, when James says "[The trucks are] pushing me!" for the first time, his mouth does not move.
  • The tree branch that Thomas hits while chasing James seems to appear out of nowhere.
  • When James is lifted back onto the rails, Jerome and Judy lift him with his tender still attached.
  • When Thomas passes Gordon at Knapford at the end of the special, a goods train is seen derailed at the platform.
  • When Thomas arrives at Ffarquhar, he is not coupled to his coaches and Annie's wheels are missing.
  • James and his entire goods train were derailed and yet Thomas is seen pushing the trucks away at the crash scene.
  • Nigel Plaskitt is credited in the Nick Jr. airing but the Reverend's letter is not featured.
  • The Mr. Perkins segments and the Best Friends Express from the PBS Kids airing are listed in the Nick Jr. credits, despite not appearing.
  • Tidmouth Sheds have seven berths in this special, however this special takes place before Calling All Engines! where Tidmouth Sheds had seven berths, this special should only have six berths.

In Other Languages

Language Title
Chinese 托马斯成长记
French La Première Aventure
Japanese トーマスのはじめて物語
Spanish La Aventura Comienza




Motor Road and Rail

  • Green Thomas & Black James First Story Set

Capsule Plarail

  • Original James
  • Original Thomas
  • Judy and Jerome


  • Original Thomas


  • Original Thomas


  • Handcraft Underwear

DVD Packs


  • The Adventure Begins and Dinos and Discoveries Double Pack



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