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This article is about the first series episode. You may be looking for the eighth series episode, the VHS, the DVD, the Buzz Book, the 1987 magazine story, the 2005 magazine story, the 2009 magazine story, the 2015 magazine story, the board book or the live show.

“Well, Thomas, I've heard all about it, and I'm very pleased with you. You're a Really Useful Engine. James shall have some proper brakes and a new coat of paint, and you shall have a branch line all to yourself."
"Oh, thank you, Sir!”
―The Fat Controller and Thomas

Thomas and the Breakdown Train, retitled Thomas Saves the Day in American releases, is the seventh episode of the first series. It is based on the story of the same name from the Railway Series book Thomas the Tank Engine.


The Fat Controller always comes to visit Thomas in the yard on his way on the station. He always tells Thomas that while he may not be as big or as fast as Gordon, he can still be a Really Useful Engine. While shunting, Thomas notices a strange green coach and two cranes. His driver explains that they make up the Breakdown Train and are used to lift engines and rolling stock in the event of an accident.

One day, while Thomas is working, he hears an engine whistling for help. The engine is a new one named James and is being pushed by a long line of trucks and cannot stop as his brake blocks are on fire. As James disappears under a bridge, Thomas gapes in shock and wishes to teach the trucks a lesson. Soon, an alarm rings and the signalman informs them that James has derailed. Thomas is coupled to the Breakdown Train and heads to the scene of the crash.

Further down the line, James is lying on his side in a field. His driver and fireman check him for damages and tell James that the fault lies in his wooden brakes, which they had never approved of. Thomas arrives with the Breakdown Train and removes the trucks that are still on the rails, while the workmen deal with the ones in the field. Thomas works as hard as he can, going backwards and forwards with the trucks until they have all been cleared away.

Soon, James is lifted out of the field by the cranes and carefully set back onto the rails. He is unable to move by himself, so Thomas pulls him back to the shed as evening falls. Waiting for them is the Fat Controller, who congratulates Thomas on all his hard work. He arranges for James to be given proper brakes and a new coat of paint and rewards Thomas with a branch line of his own.

Now Thomas is happier than ever. Not only does he have a branch line, he also has two new coaches named Annie and Clarabel. He now gets to pull trains all day and often meets Edward and Henry at the junction. Gordon is often in a hurry, but still whistles to Thomas, who always whistles back.



Adaptation Notes

  • Sir Topham Hatt is referred to as a controller rather than a director.
  • Extra dialogue is added when the Fat Controller talks to Thomas.
  • The narration about Thomas shunting the trucks which come in is altered.
  • The narration about Thomas wanting to learn to be a Really Useful Engine is cut.
  • The narration about Thomas being told he "mustn't touch" the Breakdown Train is cut.
  • The flat trucks are not mentioned when the Breakdown Train is being described.
  • The cranes are described as "strange" rather than "queer."
  • Thomas' driver telling him about the Breakdown Train is cut in half, with only the part about the cranes remaining.
  • The line "when he heard an engine whistling" is changed to "suddenly, he heard an engine whistling."
  • James is not painted black, likely due to budgetary constraints.
  • James is not described as being new, likely due to him featuring in the background of previous episodes.
  • The narration about smoke and sparks emitting from James' brakeblocks is cut, likely due to it being represented visually in the episode.
  • The trucks only repeat "on" three times rather than four as in the book.
  • James disappearing "under the bridge" is not mentioned, likely due to it being represented visually in the episode.
  • The narration when the alarm rings in the signal box is changed.
  • The line about the workmen jumping into the works unit coach is omitted.
  • The narration describing the scene of the accident is removed, likely due to it being represented visually in the episode.
  • The descriptor of Thomas puffing "crossly" to the trucks is omitted.
  • The line about the men rerailing the other trucks is omitted.
  • The line about the trucks talking in a "sad, groany, creaky sort of voice" is omitted.
  • The line about the tracks being mended before they lift James back onto the rails is omitted.
  • Thomas says "oh, thank you sir!" as opposed to simply "oh, sir!" as in the original story.
  • Annie and Clarabel are named in the episode's narration, whereas in the original story they were simply referred to as "two coaches."


  • The events of this episode were later recreated and retold in The Adventure Begins. An additional sequence was created in which Thomas goes after James and unsuccessfully tries to prevent him from crashing. A reference was later mentioned in the twenty-first series episode, The Fastest Red Engine on Sodor.
  • This episode marks James' official introduction to the television series. Despite appearing in all episodes prior to this one, he was never acknowledged in any way.
  • Stock footage from Edward, Gordon and Henry and Thomas and the Trucks is used.
  • There are a few differences in the restored version of the episode:
    • When Thomas says "I'd like to teach those trucks a lesson" ("I'd like to teach those cars" in the US dubs), there is a pause before he moves his eyes.
    • The shot of the signalman shouting "James is off the line! The breakdown train, quickly!" is extended.
    • Different footage of Annie is used towards the end.
  • This is the first episode to feature an engine crashing, albeit not on-screen. The first episode to feature an on-screen crash was The Flying Kipper.


  • When Thomas takes on water in the opening shot, his water cap is not open.
  • When the narrator says that James' brake blocks were on fire, the metal rod producing the spark effects can be seen sticking out of James' wheels. In the same shot, his pony truck wheels are not moving.
  • In the scene when Thomas pushes the Breakdown Train under a bridge, the cranes appear to be covered in white chalk dust. In every other scene, however, they are clean.
  • In the close-up of James' wheels when he is put back on the rails, the Breakdown Train behind him is missing.
  • When James is set back on the rails, it is daytime, but when he and Thomas go back to Tidmouth Sheds, it suddenly changes to dusk.
  • When Thomas and James leave the scene of the crash, one of the cranes moves slightly and one of the trucks is missing its left eye.
  • When Thomas and James return to Tidmouth Sheds, the puffing noises continue after they stop.
  • In the close-up of Gordon, his driving wheels are going backwards.
  • In the Welsh dub, the title card disappears too soon, briefly revealing the English title underneath.

In Other Languages

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Language Title
Brazilian Portuguese Thomas Resolve um Problema
Thomas Salva o Dia
Chinese Mandarin 托马斯和吊车
Croatian Tomica i Vagoni Dizalice
Czech Tomáš a Pohotovostní Vlak
Danish Thomas og Hjælpetoget
Dutch Thomas en de Takelwagen
Finnish Tuomas-Veturi ja Korjausjuna
French Thomas et le Train en Panne
German Der Unfallzug
Greek Το Χαλασμένο Τρένο
Hebrew תומס ורכבת החילוץ
Hungarian Thomas és a Segélyvonat
Icelandic Tommi og Jakob
Italian L'Incidente
Japanese ジェームスのだっせん
Korean 제임스를 구조하던 날 (DVD Acadamy)
토마스와 구조 열차 (JEI TV)
Latin American Spanish Thomas, Héroe del Día
Norwegian Thomas og Hjelpetoget
Polish Tomek i Wagon Ratunkowy
Romanian Thomas şi Trenul de Intervenţii
Romansh Tumasch ed il tren disgrazià
Russian Происшествие
Serbian Tomas i Vagon za Pokvarene Vozove
Slovak Thomas a Záchranársky Vlak
Slovenian Tomaž in Nesreča na Progi
Swedish Thomas och Kranvagnen
Turkish Thomas Günü Kurtarıyor
Welsh Tomos a'r Trén Achub


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Name Released Discontinued Highlights Image
Thomas & The Breakdown Train 2012 2014
  • Includes Thomas with breakdown train and truck


Name Published Publisher Highlights Photo
Percy Runs Away and Thomas and the Breakdown Train 1984 Ladybird Books
  • Ladybird book
Thomas and the Breakdown Train 1985 Octopus Books
  • Board book
James and the Rescue Train 1989 Heinemann
Thomas and the Breakdown Train 1990 Buzz Books
  • Buzz book
James the Red Engine 1991 Random House
  • Board book
James and the Trucks 1997 Egmont
Random House
Thomas 2003 Egmont
Thomas (Book & CD) 2007 Egmont
  • My Thomas Story Library book
  • The book was released with a CD narrated by Michael Angelis
Thomas to the Rescue 2009 Egmont
Thomas the Tank Engine Book Pack 2015 Egmont

Magazine stories

Home Media Releases


DVD Boxsets


VHS/DVD Boxsets


DVD Boxsets






  • Thomas and Gordon and other stories




DVD Packs







  • Thomas the Tank Engine 1