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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.”
―The Fat Controller

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 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 and his driver explains that this is the Breakdown Train and it is used to lift derailed engines or pieces of rolling stock.

One day, while Thomas is working, he hears an engine whistling for help. The engine is a new one named James, and he is being pushed by a long line of trucks, causing him run too fast. To make matters worse, his brake blocks are on fire and he cannot stop. As the trucks laugh and James disappears under a bridge, Thomas gapes in shock and becomes determined to teach the trucks a lesson. Soon an alarm rings and the signalman comes out shouting that James has derailed, so the Breakdown Train is needed at once. Thomas is coupled to the Breakdown Train and heads to the scene of the accident as fast as he can.

Further down the line, James has crashed into a field and is lying on his side. His crew checks him for any damage and tells James that the fault lies on 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 from the scene, while the workmen recover the trucks which had overturned with the Breakdown Train. Thomas works harder than ever before, going backwards and forwards with the trucks until they have all been cleared away.

Soon it is time to lift James out of the field. After having the chains attached to him, James is lifted by the cranes and is carefully set back onto the rails. James 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 receive a new coat of paint and have proper brakes fitted and rewards a delighted Thomas with a branch line of his own.

Now Thomas is happier than ever. Not only does he have a branch line, but 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 greetings to Thomas, who always whistles back.




  • The events of this episode were retold in The Adventure Begins.
  • 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.
  • There are a few differences in the restored version of the episode:
    • When Thomas says "I'd like to teach those trucks a lesson," he moves his eyes after a few seconds.
    • An extended shot of the signalman shouting "James is off the line! The breakdown train, quickly!" is shown.
    • Different footage of Annie is used.
  • Stock footage from Edward, Gordon and Henry and Thomas and the Trucks is used.
  • A rare picture shows an alternate take of Thomas returning James to the sheds, with both facing the opposite direction from in the actual scene.
  • This is the first episode to feature a crash, albeit not on-screen. The crash scene was later shown on-screen in The Adventure Begins. Until then, the first on-screen crash would be featured in Thomas, Terence and the Snow.


  • When Thomas takes on water in the opening shot, his water cap is not open.
  • When Thomas and James return to Tidmouth Sheds, the puffing noise continues after they stop.
  • Thomas' eyes are slightly off-centre from each other throughout the majority of the episode.
  • The metal rod to make James' wheels spark is clearly visible. In the same shot, James' pony truck wheels are not moving.
  • During the scene when Thomas pushes the breakdown train under a bridge, the cranes are dirty, but before and after that scene, the cranes are clean.
  • James' goods train load changes throughout the episode.
  • In the close-up of Gordon, his driving wheels are going backwards.
  • When James gets back on the rails, it is daytime, but when Thomas couples up to him to get him back to the shed, the sky suddenly changes to sunset. It changes back to blue sky when Thomas and James get back to the sheds and there are some ruffles in the sky as well.
  • When James cries, "Help, help!" bushes and hills are next to him instead of the yard.
  • In the close-up of James' wheels when he is put back on the rails, the breakdown train beside him is missing.
  • When James is lifted back onto the track, he is not coupled up to his tender. But when Thomas goes up to it, James is coupled, and in the same shot, his tender is pink.
  • When Thomas and James leave to go back to Tidmouth Sheds, on the left side of the screen, one of the breakdown trains slowly moves backwards then stops and the truck on the breakdown train is missing an eye.
  • In the close-up of Thomas on his branch line, Annie and Clarabel are gone and in the next scene, Annie and Clarabel are back, but Thomas is now gone.
  • In the Welsh version, the title card disappears a little too soon, briefly revealing the English title underneath.
  • Wires can be seen attached to the chain supporters in the shot where James is being lowered back onto the tracks.
  • The sparks are coming from the front of James' chassis, whereas his brake shoes are behind his rear driving wheels.

In Other Languages

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Language Title
Brazilian Portuguese Thomas Resolve um Problema/Thomas Salva o Dia
Chinese 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
Norwegian Thomas og Hjelpetoget
Polish Tomek i Wagon Ratunkowy
Romanian Thomas şi Trenul de Intervenţii
Russian Происшествие
Serbian Tomas i Vagon za Pokvarene Vozove
Slovak Thomas a Záchranársky Vlak
Slovenian Tomaž in Nesreča na Progi
Spanish Thomas, Héroe del Día
Swedish Thomas och Kranvagnen
Thai โธมัสช่วยกู้ภัย
Turkish Thomas ve Arızalı Tren
Welsh Tomos a'r Trén Archub


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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


  • Thomas and Gordon and other stories


VHS/DVD Boxsets


DVD Boxsets












  • Thomas the Tank Engine 1




DVD Packs









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