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The Great Railway Show is an international competition held every several years. It involves locomotives from all over the world. The engines compete in events of speed, strength, looks and skill during the events of The Great Race.

It is not to be confused with the event of the same name from Thomas and the Great Railway Show, which was simply a temporary museum exhibition.



The Strongest Engine Competition

This competition was held in the south-western yard of the venue and took place first. The competition involves five steam locomotives, who are coupled to large flatbeds of bricks and must pull them over an inclined track. During the very first Railway Show, Carlos was the winner of this competition.

The contestants for this competition include Henry, Hiro, Frieda, Shane and Vinnie. The winner of this event was left unknown, although Henry confessed he came in last place.

The Best Decorated Engine Parade

This competition was held in the main yard of the railway show venue, around the same time as the Strongest Engine Competition. In contrast to the other events in the Railway Show, this event was more of a parade than a race and is the only event of its kind in the show. Engines are decorated or painted in or decorated with vibrant and elegant designs, and pass through the main yard with a brass band while the judges determine who the best-decorated engine is.

The contestants for this competition include James, Emily, Rajiv, Carlos and Yong Bao. Rajiv was the winner of this event.

The Great Race

This race was held outside of the main railway show venue and took place thirdly. Five engines race against each other to determine who can reach the finish line first. The race is simply a circuit, thus the starting line is also the finish line. During this event, Gordon's boiler burst when his safety valve was not fitted.

The contestants for this competition include Gordon, Flying Scotsman, Spencer, Axel and Etienne. Etienne was the winner of this event.

The Shunting Challenge

This competition is another race-like event and takes place in the main yard. It is the last competition of the Great Railway Show. Five shunting engines are lined up and must race to see who can shunt a train of trucks first. In the competition, engines arrange different types of rolling stock such as box vans, tankers, flatbeds, and brake vans, arranging three box vans, three tankers, three flatbeds and a brake van, making the total number of trucks ten.

The contestants for this competition include Thomas, Ashima, Gina, Ivan and Raul. Percy was originally chosen for the shunting challenge but dropped out to allow Thomas to compete. Vinnie chased Phillip. Although Thomas ended up losing the event to Ashima when he gave up his chance of winning to clear her path, both he and Ashima were declared the winners of the event because he would have won otherwise.


Other Engines

These engines did not participate in any of the events and only served as either shunting engines arranging trains in the yard, taking visitors around the yard or representing their team's country.


  • The Great Railway Show is based on the Olympic Games, where thousands of contenders from around the world also participate in several competitions. The Great Race was also released in the same year as the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics.
  • The Best Decorated Engine Parade was originally called The Best in Show.[1]
  • A design sheet for Yong Bao reveals that at one point during the production of The Great Race, James was removed from the Best Decorated Engine Parade; he was later added back in for the final film.[2]
  • According to Railway Consultant Sam Wilkinson, Splatter and Dodge were originally considered for the role of the shunters at the Great Railway Show, however, they were ultimately dropped.[3]
  • The Meet the Contenders videos feature the contestants in the show, with the exceptions of James, Hiro, Stephen and the Great Railway Show Diesels.
  • Ivan and Etienne are the only non-steam engines to participate in the Great Railway Show.
  • Sodor has the most representatives out of any country, with a total of five (excluding Percy, Stephen and Philip).
  • Henry and Percy are the only Sudrian contenders who did not have their appearance modified prior to joining their respective competitions.
  • The Great Railway Show was later referenced on several occasions:
    • The show was mentioned in Big World! Big Adventures! when Yong Bao mentioned that he met Thomas at the show.
    • The Great Railway Show was also mentioned in Confusion Without Delay when Nia mentioned to Rebecca that Emily competed in the Best Decorated Engine Parade and Contest, with James having to mention he competed in the event as well.
    • The Great Railway Show was mentioned in Grudge Match when Raul mentioned that he remembers Thomas from the show, and ever since Thomas bets Raul at the show he wants to win against him at something just because Thomas is the best. Stock footage from The Great Race was also used for the episode.
    • The Great Railway Show was also mentioned in Rangers of the Rails when Emily tells Nia to tell a story about going to the show but James told Emily that story was told so many times.
    • A fantasy sequence of Meet the Contenders was included in The Great Little Railway Show.