“I'm not a Really Useful Engine now! I wouldn't be surprised if the Fat Controller closes by branch line altogether!”

The Little Line is a magazine story.


Thomas overhears the Fat Controller talking on the phone, whilst idling near his office. He hears the Fat Controller say that "Thomas' branch line will have to be very small", which immediately makes him concerned for his line. He tells Percy what he heard, and goes back to work very worried.

Because of his fretting, Thomas is rough with the trucks. The next day he accidentally runs into some buffers, and makes all kinds of silly mistakes. He starts thinking the Fat Controller will close down his entire branch line. Meanwhile Percy tells the other engines about what Thomas said. The engines all agree that this is a terrible situation, and Gordon comes up with a plan.

Thomas is sent to the Big Harbour to collect Stephen and a parcel. While he is away the engines unite and Gordon's plan is put into action - they all go on strike.

The Fat Controller arrives to see what's going on, and finds out about what Thomas heard. He starts to clarify the confusion, when Thomas returns. The Fat Controller gives Stephen the parcel, which is revealed to be a model of Thomas with a set of tracks. He explains that the toy is Stephen's birthday present, and that's what he was talking about on the phone.

Thomas is very embarrassed, and as they sing 'Happy Birthday' to Stephen he says that knowing his line is safe is the best present of all.



  • In the seventh illustration, Duck's running board, splasher and wheels are green.
  • The engines' lamps are not coloured white.


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