This article is about the special. You may be looking for the magazine story, the DVD, the book, the golden book or the storybook.
“Oh, Thomas! Why would the Fat Controller/Sir Topham Hatt want to take a little tank engine like you to the Great Railway Show?”

The Great Race is the 2016 Thomas & Friends film.


After beating Gordon the Big Engine in a race to Vicarstown Station, Thomas the Tank Engine is introduced to Gordon's brother, The Flying Scotsman, who is taking part in The Great Railway Show on the Mainland, encouraging Thomas to try and take part as well. Though every engine on Sodor wants to take part ("Will You Won't You"), Sir Topham Hatt has not made up his mind yet, and Thomas fears he won't be picked to go to the competition. But after getting an idea to be streamlined for the competition ("Streamlining"), he passes his idea on to Sir Topham Hatt, who chooses Gordon to be streamlined instead.

At Brendam Docks, Thomas has a run-in with several of the competitors for The Great Railway Show when their rail ferry docks there by mistake, and as a result, one of them is left behind. Ashima, a beautifully-painted tank engine from India accidentally bumps Thomas in her hurry to try and make the ferry, nearly pushing him over the edge into the water. When he looks up and sees her for the first time, he is instantly captivated by her. This first attraction makes him very uncomfortable as he reacts indignantly out of embarrassment and quickly retreats from the docks. At the shunting yard, Thomas complains to Percy about Ashima, desperately trying to find something wrong with her, yet unable to explain why he is angry. Phillip suggests that Thomas stay away from her.

Ashima is lost and the other engines are too busy to help her get to the mainland. She sees Thomas once again in front of Kellsthorpe Station where she hints once more for help. Annie and Clarabel, immediately noticing this new weakness in Thomas, purposely tease him about the two of them going to The Great Railway Show together. Completely beside himself, he stammers and blushes uncontrollably and is unable to help her as the whistle blows and he hastily leaves the platform. Whilst purposely goading him about her beautiful paintwork, Annie and Clarabel give Thomas the idea to be similarly painted so he can enter the competition. Thomas abandons them at Maron Station and heads to the Steamworks. At the Steamworks, Thomas suggests to Sir Topham Hatt that he have an engine enter the Best Decorated Engine competition. Meanwhile, at the Dieselworks, Diesel devises a trick that involves disguising Den, Dart, and Paxton as trucks, so as to trick Sir Topham Hatt into entering him into the competition instead of Henry ("I'm Full of Surprises").

Back at Maron, Thomas sees Emily and James, who tell him that Sir Topham Hatt has chosen them to be painted. He also learns that Ashima took Annie and Clarabel and has been running his branch line in his absence, much to Thomas' anger, but Annie and Clarabel soon scold him for abandoning them. Thomas finally reveals to Ashima his insecurities about not being good enough to be entered into the competition and she consoles him ("You Can Only Be You"), saying that she finds him perfect just the way he is and that he should just be himself. She suggests he partake in the Shunting competition.

At Knapford Junction, Diesel's trick goes awry when Thomas tries to practice shunting with them. His buffer beam gets damaged in the crash, and his repairs mean he will not be able to go the competition. Sir Topham Hatt reveals he was planning to enter Thomas into the shunting challenge the whole time, but because of his repairs, Percy will take his place. However, upon learning that Gordon left without his safety valve being properly installed while he was being streamlined, Thomas rushes to the mainland to deliver it to him, despite not being fully repaired.

At The Great Railway Show, Henry loses the strength competition, James and Emily lose the Best Decorated Engine award and, due to not waiting to have his safety valve installed, Gordon's boiler explodes and he loses the race ("The Shooting Star Is Coming Through"). With Percy's insistence, Thomas takes his place in the shunting competition, but sacrifices his win to Ashima in order to save her from crashing into a derailed flatbed. However, the judges decide to award Thomas the win alongside Ashima for good sportsmanship. Sir Topham Hatt and the other Sodor engines are very proud of Thomas.

With The Great Railway Show over, everyone is helping Thomas to try and find Ashima so that he can say goodbye when Sir Topham signals for his engines to return to Sodor. Extremely forlorn, Thomas thinks he has missed his chance until he hears her singing as she fills up with coal. Elated, he invites Ashima to come back to Sodor with him, allowing them to spend some more time together before catching her rail ferry back to India from there ("Be Who You Are, And Go Far").

During the credits, Diesel, stuck in a crate, calls for help as he sails away on a ship leaving Sodor.


Characters Introduced



UK, AUS and NZ

US and CAN


Bonus Features


US and CAN

  • Music Videos - Will You Won't You, Streamlining, I'm Full of Surprises and You Can Only Be You
  • Guess Who? Puzzles - Etienne, Flying Scotsman, Philip, Rajiv, Shane and Vinnie
  • 20 Meet the Contenders Shorts


  • This special takes place between the twentieth and the twenty-first series. However, there are some hints with production crew, voice actors and changes that this was produced before Series 20 in 2015, these being:
    • Tracy Blagdon being a production manager. She became a producer in March 2016.
    • Teresa Gallagher voicing Daisy.
    • Joe Mills voicing Donald.
    • Keith Wickham voicing James in the UK dub.
    • Arlesburgh Junction lacking the station and footbridge seen on the junction in the twentieth series and the sheds still appearing as a one-berth shed. Craig Barnikis' LinkedIn profile confirms this. Production for the special started in May 2015 and ended in February 2016.
  • This special was shown in select UK cinemas from 21st May,[1] and in Australia and New Zealand from 20th August.
  • This special was shown at the Scotiabank Theatre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada during a private screening held by Autism Ontario on 9th July 2016.[2]
  • This special was shown in selected Italian cinemas on the 7th, 8th, 15th and 16th of October 2016.
  • This special introduced the most new characters to date, at a total of twelve, only nine of which speak. The record would later go to Big World! Big Adventures!, which featured over 26 new characters.
  • This special ties in with both the 2016 Summer Olympics and Flying Scotsman's return to service in real-life.
  • This special was shown in the US at Thomas Land on 3rd September 2016 before being released on DVD, and aired on PBS on 17th October.
  • References to the fourth series episode, Thomas and the Special Letter and the nineteenth series episode, The Little Engine Who Raced Ahead are made in this special.
  • A reworked arrangement of the original Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends theme tune is played as fanfare while Ashima and the Sodor engines parade through Vicarstown en-route to the Mainland for the Great Railway Show.
  • A reworked arrangement of The Watermill theme from the second series can be heard when Thomas goes back to pick up Annie and Clarabel, after coming back from the Steamworks from his "repaint."
  • Rufus Jones, Tina Desai and John Schwab join the voice cast. However, while Schwab still continues into the following year, Jones would not return until Big World! Big Adventures! and Desai until the twenty-second series.
  • The station announcement used in Tale of the Brave is heard when Thomas first arrives at Vicarstown.
  • When Thomas asks Victor to repaint him, one of the liveries seen in the fantasy sequence features a red and blue lightning bolt over his right eye, resembling the late singer David Bowie, who sported a similar lightning bolt on his face for the cover of his album Aladdin Sane.
  • From 13th April until 7th September, the official YouTube channel uploaded promotional videos of each of the Great Railway Show's contestants (excluding James and Hiro), each video being uploaded once a week on every Wednesday.
  • This special marks the first of multiple things:
    • The first full appearance of Flying Scotsman in the television series and his first appearance since the third series.
    • The first time that Mrs. Kyndley has been referred to by name since the fifth series.
    • The first special where Nigel Pilkington voices Percy in the UK and Kerry Shale voices Diesel in the US.
    • The very first speaking role of the Great Railway Show Judge, who had only cameoed since the sixteenth series.
    • The first appearance of the red express coaches in full CGI, and their first appearance since the twelfth series.
    • The first appearance of Vicarstown station in the television series.
    • The first special to have music composed by Chris Renshaw and Oliver Davis after Robert Hartshorne and Peter Hartshorne's contracts ended after production of the nineteenth series and Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure.
    • The first special to be a musical, though not the first to have characters sing original songs (Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure).
    • The first special since Calling All Engines! in which the narrator does not read out the title.
    • Norman's first speaking role since the seventeenth series episode The Frozen Turntable.
    • The first time "locomotive" (the proper word for "engine") has been said in the series.
    • Charlie's first speaking role since the eighteenth series episode Not So Slow Coaches, as well as his first speaking role in a special. It is also the first time Steven Kynman took the mantle of his US voice, following the departure of Ben Small.
    • The first special in which Teresa Gallagher voices Marion.
    • The first appearance of Cyril the Fogman since the twelfth series episode, Thomas and the Billboard.
  • This special also marks the only occurrence time of a couple of things:
    • Marianne Culbert's only special as executive producer.
    • Jane Sobol and Lynda Craigmyle's only special as supervising producers.
    • Charlie, Scruff, Samson and Stafford's only speaking roles in a special.
    • The only appearances of Yong Bao, Vinnie and Carlos until Big World! Big Adventures!, of Ashima, Rajiv and Shane until the twenty-second series, the only appearance of Gina and Raul until the twenty-third series as well as the only appearances of Frieda, Axel, Ivan and Etienne to date.
    • The only time David Bedella and Rob Rackstraw voice Carlos and Raul, as Big World! Big Adventures! and the twenty-third series replace them with Gabriel Porras and Federico Trujillo, respectively.
  • This special marks the last of several things:
    • The last special animated by Arc Productions under their original name. They were later re-branded as Jam Filled in Toronto in August 2016 after Arc Productions filed up for bankruptcy.
    • The last special to be produced by HiT Entertainment, which would be consolidated into Mattel Creations, who would produce the specials from Journey Beyond Sodor onwards.
    • The final time Teresa Gallagher and Joe Mills respectively voice Daisy and Donald. Tracy-Ann Oberman and Rob Rackstraw later took over the roles in the twentieth series onwards.
    • The last special in which Jonathan Broadbent voices Bill and Ben. Rasmus Hardiker would take over the role of Bill and Matt Wilkinson would for Ben in Big World! Big Adventures!
    • The last production to have Rebecca O’Mara as the voice of Caitlin and as part of the voice cast before she left the series.
    • With All in Vain being the last episode, this is the last special in which Keith Wickham voices James in the UK dub. Rob Rackstraw later took over the role in Journey Beyond Sodor.
    • The final special in which the non-human characters' bodies are stationary. From Journey Beyond Sodor onwards, their bodies move in restricted human like ways.
    • The final special with a runtime of exactly one hour. After the over hour runtime of Journey Beyond Sodor and Big World! Big Adventures!, future specials will feature a half hour runtime like Diesel's Ghostly Christmas, the first of this type of special being Digs and Discoveries.
    • The final time Javier Olguín voices Thomas and Percy in the Latin American Spanish dub. Héctor Ireta de Alba would take over the roles starting with the twentieth series onwards.
    • The final time Rosie is seen in her original lavender livery. From Journey Beyond Sodor onwards, she is painted in a new cherry red livery.
    • The last production to have Tracy Blagdon as production manager. She was promoted to producer in the twentieth series.
    • Kallan Kagan's last special as executive producer.
    • Robert Anderson's last special as producer.
    • Marianne Culbert's last production as executive producer.
    • Stephanie Gauthier Watson's last special as assistant production manager.
    • The last special released on Blu-ray in the US.
    • Charlie, Scruff and Rheneas' last speaking roles to date, and Norman's last until the twenty-third series episode, Diesel Glows Away.
  • This special aired in Mexico on Discovery Kids on 10th December 2016 and 2nd January 2017. It also aired on Canal 5 on 5th January 2017.
  • The special aired on Nick Jr. in the US split into three half hour blocks on 13th - 15th August 2018. Also, the scene when Vinnie runs into the coal hopper was removed and the music from the removed scene was used for when Philip encounters Vinnie the second time. The three part version of the movie aired on Treehouse TV on the 28th to the 30th November 2018.
  • In the Latin American Spanish dub, this special is called "La Gran Carrera," the same title as the fourth series episode Steam Roller in said language.
  • Character Encyclopedia reveals that Flying Scotsman went back to help Gordon finish the race after the blue engine's boiler exploded. This might have been in the script during production.  
  • On 15th June 2018, the songs from the special were released on digital music services.


  • Some actors and actresses are not credited for voicing their characters:
    • Jules de Jongh and Christopher Ragland in the UK dub for singing Emily and Percy, respectively.
    • John Hasler in the US dub for voicing Rheneas.
    • Tom Stourton and Jonathan Broadbent in both dubs for voicing Rex, Bill and Ben.
  • The digital release is slowed to 24 FPS, adding an extra two minutes to the special's length. As a result, the audio is mildly distorted.
  • There are some animation errors in Will You, Won't You:
    • When the song first begins, Thomas' driver's arm clips through his cab door.
    • As Emily is leaving Knapford station with her coaches, the second coach's body is missing.
    • Rex's tender clips through his cab, and his driver's head is sticking out of his boiler.
    • Towards the end of the song, James' bufferbeam clips through Gordon's running board. In the same shot, they stop moving, but in the next shot, they stop moving again.
  • After Will You Won't You, Duck's driver's head clips through the top of his roof.
  • During the scene at Knapford Yards, Philip backs up to plank trucks, but when he leaves the yard, he is pulling conflats.
  • In the US dub, shortly before Streamlining starts, when Thomas says "Sir Topham Hatt will definitely take me to the show," his lips move to say, "The Fat Controller."
  • When Axel reboards the ship, his wheels and tender are missing.
  • When Thomas shunts trucks in the yard, a row of narrow gauge trucks can be seen on standard gauge rails.
  • Ashima is not coupled to Annie when she leaves Maithwaite.
  • During You Can Only Be You, Annie and Clarabel disappear in some shots.
  • When Diesel shunts the disguised diesels and the trucks into the yard, his coupling chains are sticking outward.
  • As Thomas pulls out of the Knapford station yard with the runaway trucks, Dart's crate is missing.
  • Throughout the scene of the Sodor engines' arrival at the Great Railway Show, Axel's tender and trailing wheel are not on the rails and clips through his cab.
  • When Flying Scotsman sees Gordon in his streamlined form, his right eyebrow clips through his forehead.
  • Rajiv isn’t placed on the rails properly when he rolls forward to accept his award.
  • When Thomas is going to deliver Gordon's safety valve mechanism, he nearly crashes into Hiro who is heading towards the Island of Sodor. However, when Thomas arrives at the show, Hiro is competing in the Strength competition.
  • When Frieda whistles, no steam emits from it.
  • At one point when Ashima tells James and Emily that she is going to compete in the shunting challenge, she is not positioned on the rails.
  • When The Shooting Star is Coming Through starts, Henry moves off the right side of the screen in the background.
  • When Gordon sings the words "racing blue" in the second verse of The Shooting Star is Coming Through, Spencer's wheels do not move. This error is repeated during two brief shots of Spencer and Etienne when Gordon sings both "woosh!" lines in the final verse.
  • When Emily tells Thomas about the shunting challenge in the UK dub, she says the American term "boxcars".
  • In the shot of Ivan during the first half of the shunting challenge, Philip is seen spectating with the Sodor engines when he is supposed to be chased by Vinnie.
  • Philip is facing away from the turntable before Vinnie crashes, but after he derails, Philip is turned around.
  • There are a few errors during Be Who You Are, and Go Far:
    • At the start of the song in the UK dub, James has his US voice which can faintly be heard, it then it changes to his UK one once the engines have left the Great Railway Show.
    • When the engines cross the Vicarstown Bridge, James and Emily switch back to their regular liveries for the rest of the movie.
  • In the Italian dub of Will You Won't You, Salty is the only one who sings "Anyone who's any engine's eager to go."
  • There are several mistakes in the German dub:
    • When Victor says "It's a lot of hard work to streamline a steam engine, Gordon," he calls Gordon a diesel engine. And when Thomas crashes into the flatbed, the announcer calls him a diesel.
    • Before Streamlining starts, Annie starts screaming before Thomas goes faster.
    • After Will you Wont You, Gordon is the only one whose laughing is heard.
    • Andrew Brenner's credit is missing from the intro.
    • When Annie and Clarabel talk to Ashima at Maron, their voices are swapped.
  • When Den, Dart and Paxton see the ship Diesel is on, they are standing directly on the edge of the quay.

In Other Languages

Language Title
Brazilian Portuguese A Grande Corrida
Czech Velký závod
Dutch De grote wedstrijd
French La Grande Course
German Das große Rennen
Greek Ο Μεγάλος Αγώνας
Hungarian A nagy verseny
Japanese 走れ!世界のなかまたち
Korean 그레이트 레이스
Polish Wielki Wyścig
Romanian Cursa cea Mare
Russian Большая гонка
Serbian Velika trka
Slovenian Velika dirka
Spanish La Gran Carrera
Ukrainian Великі перегони



Wooden Railway

  • Ashima
  • Racing Vinnie
  • Frieda
  • Diesels in Disguise Pack
  • Vicarstown Station
  • Race Day Relay set with Gina

Motor Road and Rail

  • Streamlined Thomas
  • Ringing Streamlined Thomas in Tekoro
  • Shooting Star Gordon
  • Ashima
  • Ringing Ashima in Tekoro


  • Streamlined Thomas
  • Shooting Star Gordon
  • Ashima
  • Racing Vinnie
  • Raul
  • Axel
  • Ivan


  • Trophy Thomas
  • Shooting Star Gordon
  • Flying Scotsman
  • Thomas and Percy's Railway Race set
  • Thomas' Sky High Bridge Jump Playset
  • Etienne
  • Streamlined Thomas


  • Movie Version Thomas
  • Streamlined Thomas

Collectible Railway

  • Streamlined Thomas
  • Shooting Star Gordon
  • Ashima
  • Yong Bao
  • Axel

Motorized Railway

  • Yong Bao
  • Racing Thomas
  • Thomas' Racing Bridge Jump

Mega Bloks

  • Railway Race Day Set


  • Ashima
  • Raul
  • Gina
  • Ivan
  • Shane

Capsule Plarail

  • The Great Race Thomas
  • Streamlined Thomas
  • Thomas as Harvey Fantasy
  • Thomas as Stephen Fantasy
  • Thomas as Bertie Fantasy
  • Thomas as Alfie Fantasy
  • Thomas as Captain Fantasy
  • Shooting Star Gordon (normal and angry)
  • Decorated James
  • Decorated Emily
  • Ashima
  • Vinnie
  • Flying Scotsman (two versions)
  • Streamlined Annie
  • Streamlined Clarabel
  • Trophy Truck



External Links

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.