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“Stop the runaway!”
―The signalman

The Runaway is the tenth episode of the second series. It is based on the story of the same name from the Railway Series book More About Thomas the Tank Engine.


One day, Thomas wakes up feeling ill; the workmen are unable to make him feel better, so the Fat Controller has Edward bring Thomas to the works for a while and asks Duck to take over Thomas' duties on his branch line. Duck is delighted to be given such a responsibility.

Duck is already friends with Percy, and quickly befriends Toby, Bertie and Terence. The friendly tractor tells Duck to take extra special care with Annie and Clarabel. Duck is very gentle with them, and both coaches are left very impressed with the Great Western engine and remark on what a pleasure it is to go out with him. When Thomas returns from the works, the two coaches tell him how well Duck had managed on the line. Thomas does not feel jealous, as he is just happy to be back home.

"Take care of Thomas' coaches. He's sure to miss them while he's away." - Terence

Although Thomas feels better, he is not in complete working order. The repairs have left his handbrake very stiff, meaning it can feel like his brakes are hard-on when they are actually not. Because of this, Thomas begins to overrun the station platform, which causes him a great deal of embarrassment. Eventually, Thomas' crew learn to compensate for the handbrake and they stop in just the right place.

Thomas' fireman falls ill one day, so a relief man takes his place. After Thomas arrives at the junction, the new fireman couples him to Annie and Clarabel, then joins the driver and stationmaster on the platform while they wait for Henry to deliver his passengers. However, the relief fireman has forgotten about the stiff handbrake. When Henry starts to approach with the passengers, Thomas' wheels start to move as his brakes are not completely on and he cannot stop or whistle a warning without his crew. Before anyone realises what has happened, Thomas has left everyone stranded on the platform and runs off without anyone in his cab.

Annie and Clarabel scream for Thomas to stop, but he has plenty of steam and keeps going. Soon, an alarm goes out about the runaway train. An engine inspector makes a plan, boards Harold the helicopter and flies to a station where Thomas is due to pass by.

When Thomas reaches the station, he is very tired and is moving far slower than normal. But then he sees Harold landing near the next station. The inspector then makes it to the platform and when Thomas passes, he scrambles aboard the cab and puts Thomas' brakes hard-on. Having finally brought Thomas to a stop, both he and the inspector are very relieved and thank Harold, who tells them that it was no problem.

The inspector tells Thomas that they must make sure this never happens again; feeling exhausted, Thomas agrees with him.




  • Stock footage from Thomas and Bertie, Old Iron and Percy and Harold are used, as is a deleted scene from Thomas, Percy and the Coal, an alternate shot from Old Iron and mirrored stock footage from Percy and Harold.
  • George Carlin's narration of this episode was never featured on an episode of Shining Time Station. It first appeared on the VHS Thomas and His Friends Get Along on 10th February 1998 and later on Mister Moose's Fun Time. As noted by Carlin's tone of voice, the narration was recorded somewhere between 1991 and 1993 during production of the second and third series of Shining Time Station.
  • In Ringo Starr's dubs and the Welsh, original Norwegian and Japanese ones:
    • When Thomas pulls into the shed, passes Duck and enters Elsbridge, twice, his whistle is absent as is a music cue as he enters Elsbridge again.
    • When Henry approaches Elsbridge, his whistle sound is absent as well.
  • When the narrator says, "And suddenly he felt his wheels begin to move," the sound of Thomas' brake was its first series pitch, as opposed to its usual one for this series.
  • In the restored version, the fade effect after Harold flies over the bridge is missing.
  • Despite being the main character, Thomas only has two lines in the entire episode, with the first one being a thought and the second being out loud.
  • This episode marks the last appearance of Upper Brendam.
  • A scene from this episode is shown in the 2006 British Drama film After Thomas.
  • The JEI TV version of the Korean dub added subtitles to inform viewers what a hand break is.


  • At the start, Thomas' lamp is crooked, and his eyes jolt before the camera cuts to the Fat Controller.
  • In the first close up of the Fat Controller, his hat has small gash mark, and a chip of paint missing on the brim.
  • When Edward takes Thomas to the works his eyes are a little wonky.
  • When the Fat Controller speaks to Duck, the right buffer of the Breakdown Train is broken.
  • The brake van behind Duck appears to have derailed when Thomas passes.
  • When Thomas backs up after missing the platform, he is moving at a much slower pace compared to the chuffing sound. There is also no chuffing sound when the narrator says "Gradually his driver and fireman learned to be extra careful."
  • When Thomas buffers up to Annie and Clarabel:
    • The chuffing sound still countines after he stop.
    • The sound effect of Thomas backing into Annie and Clarabel is severely off.
  • When Thomas says "Not long now":
    • His dome and whistle are crooked.
    • He has a small chip on his boiler.
    • His lamp is crooked.
    • His number is chipped on his left side. It then changes back to normal when Thomas starts moving and the top left of his number is peeled off.
  • Duck's face is crooked when he stops next to Terence, and his eyes are wonky.
  • When Duck leaves Terence, his eyes jitter for a few seconds.
  • Annie is facing the wrong way when Duck passes Tidmouth Sheds and during the stock footage from Thomas and Bertie.
  • When Thomas returns to the sheds:
    • Toby's eyes jolt a couple times.
    • Toby and Percy's are pretty wonky.
    • Thomas is tilted, and to the right (viewers' left)
  • In a close-up of Thomas when he returns home from the works, his face is crooked.
  • The ill fireman's arm starts very low down on his body.
  • Because stock footage is used:
    • Thomas' ill fireman is in James' cab.
    • The stationmaster answering the phone is the signalman of Old Iron.
    • Percy can briefly be seen going around the curve as Harold flies through the valley.
    • Annie and Clarabel are smiling as the runaway begins.
  • Many of the small scale railway staff figures have paint chips.
  • The narrator says that Thomas saw Henry approaching, but Henry is behind him.
  • Henry's eyes are wonky when he approaches the station.
  • Henry is smiling when Thomas begins to run away.
  • When Harold lands at the station, studio equipment is reflected on his blades.
  • In a close-up of Thomas' wheels, a red wire can be seen near his middle wheel.
  • Thomas' eyes are wonky for most of the episode.
  • When Thomas' wheels begin to move, some of the wheels' paintwork is chipped at the edges.
  • When Thomas enters the station, one of Clarabel's doors is open.
  • When Terence is talking to Duck, a red wire is sticking out of his side.
  • When the inspector climbs on Harold, sticky tac can be seen underneath his feet.
  • Towards the end of the episode, in the close up of the inspector in Thomas' cab, Annie and Clarabel are missing.
  • When Thomas thanks Harold, a large piece of white tape can be seen on Harold's left side (viewers' right).


In Other Languages

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Language Title
Brazilian Portuguese O Fugitivo
Chinese Mandarin 失控
Croatian Bijeg
Czech Uprchlík
Danish Det Løbske Tog
Dutch Op Hol Geslagen
Finnish Karkulainen
French Le fugitif
German Der Ausreißer
Greek Tο Aνεξέλεγκτο Τρένο
Hungarian Az Elszabadult Mozdony
Italian Una corsa sfrenata
Japanese こわれたブレーキ
Korean 고삐 풀린 토마스
Latin American Spanish Thomas en Dificultades
Norwegian Tog på avveie
Polish W Pogoni za Tomkiem (Original)
Ucieczka (Alternate)
Romanian Fugă
Romansh Il fugitiv
Russian Без тормозов
Serbian Odbegla lokomotiva
Slovenian Pobegli vlak
Swedish Tåg på flykt
Turkish Kaçak
Ukrainian Утікач
Welsh Help gan Harold

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