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“Come on then, James. Let's go on a ghost hunt!”
―The Fat Controller

The Phantom Express is the thirteenth episode of the seventeenth series.


One dark and foggy night, Percy is getting ready to take the mail train. He is especially excited because he is to make his first ever delivery to Ulfstead Castle. James decides to play a trick on Percy and tries to scare him by telling him about the "Phantom Express," who is a ghost engine that travels around Ulfstead Castle. Thomas tries to reassure Percy that there is no such thing as ghosts, but Percy is nervous as he sets off to the castle.

At Ulfstead Castle, Percy is waiting for the mail to be unloaded when he hears a puffing noise. Percy thinks it might be the phantom, until Stephen comes puffing out of the tunnel. Percy tells Stephen about the Phantom Express, but Stephen reassures Percy that he has never seen a ghost around the estate. Then, James pulls in with coal for the castle fires and asks if Percy has seen the phantom yet. Percy tells James that he does not believe in the phantom and that Stephen has never seen it. James is cross and says that he has seen the phantom puffing around the castle that very night. Stephen laughs at James' claims but then they all hear an eerie hooting noise. It's only an owl, but Percy and Stephen believe James when he says that it is the Phantom Express' whistle. Stephen tells Percy that they should meet up after they have done their jobs, just to be on the safe side.

James rolls onto a dark siding and turns off his lamp. As Stephen rolls by, James blows his whistle. The whistle sound gets distorted by some nearby pipes and makes it echo. Stephen is alarmed and races back towards the castle, but he does not notice that the drawbridge is raised. Stephen bashes through the barrier as his crew jump clear. Stephen falls off the bridge and lands in the dry moat below.

Meanwhile, Percy has finished the mail run and has arrived back at the castle to meet up with Stephen as arranged. Percy is concerned when he cannot find Stephen and thinks that the phantom's got him. James creeps up behind Percy and makes a spooky groaning noise. Percy is so scared that he races away and ends up falling in the moat alongside Stephen. James thinks it is now time to come clean for his joke, but he cannot find Stephen or Percy anywhere. As James puffs around the misty castle ground, he starts to get scared and even starts to believe in his own made-up ghost story. James travels over the drawbridge, unaware that Percy and Stephen are in the moat below. Stephen and Percy decide to whistle for help, but James thinks it's the Phantom Express and races away from Ulfstead Castle.

The Fat Controller is at the dairy with Thomas as James rushes in. He tells the Fat Controller that Percy and Stephen are missing and that the ghost has got them. The Fat Controller knows there are no such things as ghosts, but curious to find out where Percy and Stephen have got to, he agrees to go to the castle with James.

As James and the Fat Controller approach the castle, they hear the spooky whistling. The Fat Controller tells James that it is not a ghost and goes to inspect. When the drawbridge is raised, the Fat Controller discovers Stephen and Percy in the moat. Percy and Stephen explain what happened and James comes clean about his trick. The Fat Controller is not amused.

A short while later, Rocky has lifted Stephen and Percy out of the moat. The Fat Controller scolds James for causing confusion and delay and punishes him by giving him Percy's nighttime mail run for a whole month. Stephen and Percy chuckle and tease James about the phantom as they leave. At first, James laughs at it as well, but then he is startled by the owl's hooting and follows them out of the castle.





US and CAN


  • Going by production order, this is the twentieth episode of the seventeenth series.
  • The title of this episode is based off the 1932 mystery crime-thriller film, "The Phantom Express."
  • The lamp that the Fat Controller is seen holding is the exact same lamp that James was fitted with in the fourteenth series episode, James in the Dark, only it is smaller than the one seen in that episode.
  • The drawbridge at Ulfstead Castle has gained a barrier and signal in front of it.
  • In the Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Baltic Russian and one of the Vietnamese dubs, the UK dub can be heard in the background as a dubbing track was not used.


  • When Percy explains what the Phantom Express is to Stephen, his train disappears.
  • When James pulls up in the siding ready to spook Stephen, some pipes on the flatbed can be seen. A few shots later, the flatbed is gone and the pipes are just on the ground.
  • In some dubs, Percy's US voice is heard when Percy is whimpering as he approaches the castle.


  • James: "Percy and Stephen are missing! The ghost has got them."
  • Stephen: "Hello, Percy. I see you've found the meeting place."


In Other Languages

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Language Title
Brazilian Portuguese O Expresso Fantasma
Chinese Mandarin 幽灵特快车
Croatian Fantomski Express
Czech Fantomový expres
Estonian Fantoomekspress
French Le train hanté
Galician O Expreso Pantasma
German Der Geister-Express
Greek Το εξπρές φάντασμα
Hebrew קטר הפנטום אקספרס
Hungarian A Kísértet Expressz
Italian L'Espresso Fantasma
Japanese きょうふのゆうれいれっしゃ
Korean 유령 열차
Latin American Spanish El Express Fantasma
Norwegian Spøkelsesekspressen
Polish Nawiedzony ekspres
Romanian Expressul Famtoma
Russian Экспресс призрак
Serbian Fantom ekspres
Spanish El Expreso Fantasma
Thai รถด่วนผีสิง
Ukrainian Експрес-Привид

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