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“Coo! The express is late and it's got two engines! I think James couldn't pull it on his own, so Toby had to help him!”
―A boy joking about James and Toby

Time for Trouble is the third episode of the third series. It is based on the story Double Header from The Railway Series book, The Eight Famous Engines.


It is a very busy time for the Fat Controller's engines, as the Island of Sodor has a lot of visitors. The Fat Controller schedules more trains to cope with the demand, with Gordon in particular having to make more journeys than usual. Gordon is eager to ensure all his trains are on time and works harder than ever to make sure this happens. Things are so hectic that at times Gordon has no sooner dropped off one load of passengers that he has to take another. Gordon does not mind this, however, and does his increased workload without fuss. Despite this, the Fat Controller soon decides that Gordon deserves a rest and James will take the express instead. James is delighted at the chance to show off and be as respected as Gordon.

One day in the yard, James boasts to Toby about how important he is and how he is never late. The Fat Controller arrives and tells Toby it is time for him to go to the Works to have his worn parts replaced. Toby is upset at having to go for repairs and asks if Henrietta can go with him, but the Fat Controller refuses as he needs all coaches to be available. Percy promises to look after Henrietta while Toby is gone.

Toby puffs away to the Works on the main line, but he starts to make some clanking sounds, and since he has a smaller water tank than most of the other engines, he soon feels thirsty. He is glad when he starts to approach Lower Tidmouth and stops for a drink as he and his driver do not think it will be a problem. However, the signalman, who was new to the job, has never met Toby and he orders him to continue on and clear the line for James and the express. Toby sadly leaves and struggles to the next station to stock up, but runs out of water and loses steam and is left stranded on the main line.

Toby's fireman knows they need to warn James about the blockage on the line, and Percy comes by with Henrietta who hates leaving Toby stranded. Percy assures her she is helping Toby by carrying the fireman which cheers her up. The fireman reaches the station in time and tells James' crew what has happened. The signalman apologises for causing the trouble while James is angry, knowing this will make him late and fumes when his driver tells him he will need to push Toby as well as pull the express.

Finding Toby, James gives the tram a bump before starting to push him along. James works harder than ever, having to push and pull a train at the same time and by the time he reaches the station he is exhausted. Some children on the platform see this and joke that as the express is late and James is tired, it must mean that he could not pull it alone and needed Toby's help. Toby assures James the children are only teasing, but James does not find it amusing at all, while Toby just smiles.




  • This episode was originally planned to be a part of the second series, but was pushed back to the third series for unknown reasons.
  • In a bunch of rare pictures:
    • When Percy comes to Toby's rescue, he is on the line next to Toby and coming from the same direction rather than the opposite.
    • Toby is seen going under the bridge instead of over it.
    • James' express coaches are red instead of green.
    • Gordon is crossing the viaduct in the opposite direction.
    • The scenes of James boasting to Toby about pulling the express and the Fat Controller telling Toby to go to the works to have his worn parts mended were shown to originally take place at Tidmouth Sheds, as shown in three photos, two of which show Toby looking cross while in the sheds with James.
  • Due to the fact that the Skarloey Railway and Crovan's Gate were not introduced in the television series until Series 4, Crovan's Gate is represented by the Knapford set, slightly redressed and with no clear shots of the station's sign.
  • Pre-filmed footage from Gordon and the Famous Visitor is used.
  • Gordon calling to the coaches and his line when he leaves the station is the same as Gordon Goes Foreign, which was another episode planned for the second series, but was cancelled due to its high budget.
  • This is the only time a brake van is seen at the end of Thomas' passenger train until A New Arrival.
  • In the early UK narration, James says "Look at me, I'm the smartest, most useful engine on the line" when he pulls up alongside Toby.
  • Percy's whistle is at a slightly lower pitch in this episode. It would return to its normal pitch in Thomas, Percy and the Dragon then resume the lower pitch in Toby's Tightrope and would stay that way for the rest of the season.


  • The Fat Controller and Toby's conversation is out of sync in the UK narration.
  • When Gordon called out to the coaches in the beginning of the episode, his eyes are wonky.
  • Toby starts to move before James does, even though he has no steam. In addition, steam can be seen coming out of his funnel in the restored version.
  • When Toby's fireman says "Please, take me back to the station. It's an emergency," the faded marks of where a smile had been are visible behind his frown.
  • In a rare picture, Toby's face is loose and James' face is crooked as well as his eyes being wonky.
  • James took Toby to Knapford station, not the Works.
  • In the close-up of Toby's water tank, the colour of his wood is brighter than it normally is.


Narrator: The Island of Sodor had many visitors, and the Fat Controller/Sir Topham Hatt had scheduled more trains. Gordon the Big Engine had to work harder than ever before.
Gordon: [to his coaches] Come on! Come on, come on, come on! The passengers rely on me to be on time.
Narrator: Whenever Gordon finished one journey it was time for another to begin.
(The conductor blows his whistle)
Gordon: Never mind. I like a long run to stretch my wheels.

James: You know, little Toby, I'm an important engine. Everyone knows it. I'm as regular as clockwork. Never late, always on time. That's me!
Toby: Says you!
[The Fat Controller/Sir Topham Hatt shows up]
The Fat Controller/Sir Topham Hatt: Your parts are worn Toby, so you must go to the works to be mended.
Toby: Can I take Henrietta, sir?
The Fat Controller/Sir Topham Hatt: No. What would the passengers do without her?
Percy: Don't worry Toby. I'll take care of Henrietta until you get back.

[after James manages to make the last station and push Toby at the same time while the same line]
One of the Children: The express is late, and it's got two engines! I think James couldn't pull it on his own, so Toby had to help him.
Toby: Never mind, James. They're only joking.
James: [crossly] HA!
Narrator (US / Early UK Versions Only): Toby just smiled.


In Other Languages

View content
Language Title
Brazilian Portuguese Tempo para Problema
Chinese 倒霉的时间
Czech Cas na Potize
Danish Nu Bli'r der Ballade
Dutch Moeilijkheden
Finnish Veturi Vaikeuksissa
German Zeit für Ärger
Hungarian Toby Bajba Kerül
Italian Aria di Guai
Japanese ほめられなかったジェームス
Korean 토비와 제임스의 시간 지키기 (KBS) / 제임스와 토비 (재능TV)
Norwegian Nå Blir det Trøbbel
Polish Kłopoty
Romanian Timpul Pentru Probleme
Russian Когда приходит беда
Serbian Vreme je za Nevolju
Slovak Čas na Problémy
Slovenian Nesreča Nikoli ne Počiva
Spanish James en problemas
Thai เจมส์ไม่เต็มใจช่วยเพื่อน
Turkish Bela Zamanı
Ukrainian Пора клопотів
Welsh Helynt a Hanner

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  • Time for Trouble and other stories
  • The Biggest Ever Christmas Collection
  • The Complete Series 3

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