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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; workmen are unable to make him feel better, so the Fat Controller has Edward bring Thomas to the works for a while. He then asks Duck to take over Thomas' duties on the 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.

Although he does feel better, Thomas 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 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, and a relief man takes his place. Thomas arrives at the junction, and 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. Soon, Henry starts to approach with the passengers but as Thomas' brakes are not completely on, his wheels start to move, and Thomas 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. The inspector then makes it to the platform and when Thomas passes, the inspector scrambles aboard the cab and puts Thomas' brakes on, finally bringing the tank engine to a stop. Both Thomas 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; Thomas exhausted, cannot agree more.




  • Stock footage from Thomas and Bertie, Old Iron and Percy and Harold are used, as is an alternate shot from Old Iron and a deleted scene from Thomas, Percy and the Coal.
  • 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 in February 10, 1998.
  • In Ringo Starr's narrations and the Japanese version:
    • When Thomas pulls into Elsbridge for the second time, his whistle and a music queue are absent.
    • 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 series 1 pitch, as opposed to its usual pitch 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 is the last production to feature Thomas' shocked face without a bucktooth until Thomas and the Magic Railroad.
  • A scene from this episode is shown in the 2006 British Drama film; 'After Thomas.'


  • 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.
  • Duck's face is crooked when he stops next to Terence.
  • 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, Percy's eyes are wonky.
  • 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 station master answering the phone is the same in 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 flies through The Branch Line Cutting, he clips a tree.
  • 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 the narrator says "The inspector had made a plan," the letters RIP can be seen written on the inside of Harold's door in the top left hand corner.
  • When Thomas' wheels begin to move, some of the wheels' paintwork is chipped at the edges.
  • When Thomas is at Elsbridge waiting for Henry, 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.
  • 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. 


In Other Languages

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Language Title
Chinese 失控
Croatian Bijeg
Czech Uprchlík
Danish Det Løbske Tog
Dutch Op Hol Geslagen
Finnish Karkulainen
French Le Fugitif
German Der Ausreißer
Hungarian Az Elszabadult Mozdony
Italian Una corsa sfrenata
Japanese こわれたブレーキ
Korean 고삐 풀린 토마스
Norwegian Tog på avveie
Polish Ucieczka
Romanian Fugă
Russian Без тормозов
Serbian Odbegla lokomotiva
Slovak Utečenec
Slovenian Pobegli vlak
Spanish Thomas en Dificultades
Swedish Tåg på flykt
Thai โธมัสเบรกเสีย
Ukrainian Утікач
Welsh Help gan Harold

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