The Adventure Begins is the first (second in Australia) 2015 Thomas & Friends special, running for approximately forty-five minutes and is based on the first two books of The Railway Series. It was made to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the franchise. The special was released as a Walmart exclusive in the US and later as an ASDA exclusive in the UK.


|director=Don Spencer |producer=Ian McCue
(HiT Entertainment)
Jennifer Hill
(Arc Productions) |writer=Reverend W. Awdry (original)
Andrew Brenner (adapted) |starring=Mark Moraghan |music=Peter Hartshorne
Mike O'Donnell
Junior Campbell |distributor=HiT Entertainment
Universal (US)
ABC For Kids (AUS)
Sony Creative
Products Inc.
(JPN) |release date=3 March 2015 (US; DVD and
Digital Download
11 May 2015 (US; TV)
27 July 2015
(ASDA DVD release; UK)
4 November 2015 (AUS)
16 December 2015 (JPN)
11 April 2016
(Nationwide release; UK) |runtime=44 minutes |preceded by=Tale of the Brave
Sodor's Legend of
the Lost Treasure
(AUS) |followed by=Sodor's Legend of
the Lost Treasure

The Great Race (AUS) }}


The Adventure Begins is a retelling of the first two Railway Series books, The Three Railway Engines and Thomas the Tank Engine, which were previously adapted in the first season of the television series in 1984. It contains elements from both the original stories and television series version, along with new characters and a different narrative.


A long time ago, there was a little railway known as The North Western. The engines working there are Edward, the smallest engine, who shunted trains for the bigger engines and Gordon, the biggest engine, who loves pulling the express; unfortunately, he sometimes has to pull trucks. One day, Gordon is pulling a goods train and informs Edward that a new engine will be arriving soon. Edward is very surprised and curious by this. Gordon goes on explaining how the last engine to arrive, who has wooden brake blocks, is too small. Suddenly the engine, James, pulls in front of them, protesting that he is not small and that there is nothing wrong with his wooden brakes.

Gordon continues on with his goods train, but when he reaches the big hill on the main line, the trucks hold him back and he refuses to try and make it to the top. His driver makes a phone call to Sir Topham Hatt, the railway's controller. Sir Topham Hatt sends Edward to give Gordon a push and together they make it to the top of the hill. But Gordon just continues on his way without even saying thank you to Edward.

Later, Edward is shunting when he hears a voice he has never heard before. He finds James talking to a tank engine with six small wheels, a short stumpy funnel, a short stumpy boiler and a short stumpy dome. Edward does not expect the new engine to be so small. The tank engine introduces himself as Thomas and the two tender engines welcome him to Sodor. Gordon arrives and scoffs at Thomas' claim that he is really useful for anything more than shunting coaches. As Gordon leaves, Sir Topham Hatt arrives and gives Thomas his orders to make himself useful and that Edward will show him what to do.

Thomas and Edward set to work shunting trains for the big engines. But all day long Thomas gets himself into trouble by bumping trucks and going onto the wrong tracks. Later, Thomas spies Gordon sleeping on a siding and wakes him up with a toot of his whistle, leaving Gordon very cross.

That night, Thomas arrives at Tidmouth Sheds and pulls into the berth beside Edward. He is excited about pulling trains soon, but Edward knows that he has to learn how to shunt properly first. Then a big green engine pulls into the sheds, wanting to get into his berth quickly before it rains. Edward tells Thomas about Henry and how much he does not like rain. Edward then tells the story of how Henry refused to leave a tunnel in case the rain spoiled his paint. After the passengers and even another engine could not get him out, the Fat Controller had a wall built in front of him and left him there. Edward begins to explain how Henry was allowed out after Gordon burst his safety valve outside the tunnel, but Gordon interrupts him, wanting to get to sleep.

The next day, Thomas is sent to the Steamworks to be painted into the colours Sir Topham Hatt likes to see on his railway - blue with red stripes. Thomas shows Edward his paint as well as his new number one. The other engines tell Thomas about the previous number one, who was a coffee pot engine. Edward has a train to pull so Thomas goes to fetch Gordon's express coaches, but he accidentally couples to two small coaches named Annie and Clarabel. Thomas kindly apologises, explaining how he is new. The coaches think he is a very sweet engine and Annie seems sure that he will go far one day.

Thomas spends all day working on his own, but it is hard work and he continues causing problems. Late in the afternoon, James pulls in with Annie and Clarabel and screeches to a stop next to Thomas, who notices a smoky smell. It is coming from James' wooden brakes, but James pretends not to notice. Thomas sees Henry taking on water and asks him why he has a fear of rain, explaining how it is just water, like he puts in his boiler and that he should not spend all day worrying. Henry claims that he is usually very happy, when it is sunny.

The next morning, Thomas' fire is slow to start, making him late to bring Gordon's coaches to the platform. Gordon is still grumpy that Thomas woke him up by whistling, so when Thomas brings him his coaches, Gordon makes a plan. As soon as he is coupled up, he quickly pulls away before the workmen have a chance to uncouple Thomas from the other end of the train. Thomas is forced to race along with the express as Gordon taunts him, all the way to Wellsworth. As soon as the train stops, an exhausted Thomas is uncoupled and he goes to a water tower for a drink; Gordon laughs and continues on his way.

Thomas is later shunting when he spots two very strange looking trucks on a siding. He wakes them up, causing them to panic, wondering what the emergency could be. Annie and Clarabel explain how they are Jerome and Judy, the breakdown train and the cranes are used to lift things back onto the tracks. James pulls in with a goods train, ready to take the coaches; Thomas notices the burning smell again, but once again James pretends that he has not seen any smoke, this time blowing the smoke away.

The next morning, Henry is feeling ill, so Thomas thinks he might have a chance to take Henry's train. When Henry still does not come, the Fat Controller decides that Thomas is the only engine available. But Thomas is too excited to listen to Sir Topham's instructions and after hearing a guard's whistle on the other platform, he pulls away without his train; he hurries along thinking pulling a train is easy. He comes to a red signal where the signalman asks him where his coaches are. Thomas is shocked and very sad that he has left his train behind. He comes back to Knapford where all the passengers are complaining and finally does as he is told, but he still feels miserable.

That night, Gordon and James find the story of Thomas' train very amusing. But Edward feels sorry for Thomas and asks him if he would like to take his train of trucks in the morning; Thomas happily agrees.

The next day, Thomas can hardly contain his excitement. He and Edward make their way to the train of trucks, but Edward tries to warn Thomas about how much trouble the trucks can cause. Thomas feels confident and pulls away, but the trucks try to hold back. As he finally leaves, Edward calls out to Thomas to be careful.

Thomas makes his way along the line, with the trucks getting crosser and crosser. He comes to Gordon's Hill and struggles to make his way to the top. But as soon as they begin to run down the other side, the trucks see their chance. They push Thomas hard, causing him to run down the track at high speed. Thomas flies down the line until he is sent into a siding at Maron and finally comes to a stop in front of some buffers. The Fat Controller has seen all and orders Thomas and Edward to stay in the yard until Thomas knows as much about trucks as Edward.

Thomas and Edward are shunting when they notice a train at the platform without an engine. Thomas realises that it is raining and races back to the sheds, where he finds Henry. He once again tells Henry about how rain is just water like he puts in his boiler and Henry finally comes out into the rain, very happy.

Thomas begins to work hard, now that he knows he is not as clever as he first thought. But as he is talking to Edward, James rushes through the yard with a train of trucks, screaming and with black smoke coming from his brakes; the trucks are pushing him and Thomas bravely hurries after James.

Out on the main line, James begs the trucks to stop pushing him, but they take no notice. Thomas tells James to use his brakes, but they are already on fire, making them useless against the trucks. Thomas heads to the brake van and James' guard tries to couple him up so that Thomas can slow the train down. But before Thomas can be coupled up, James goes around a bend too fast, tipping onto his side and sliding along a field. The train falls off the track with him. Thomas is shocked and after seeing that the guard is okay, he tells James that he will get help.

Thomas heads into Knapford Yard and wakes up Jerome and Judy again, letting them know that this time there really is an emergency. The two cranes and the workmen are soon ready and Thomas sets off. The Fat Controller demands to know what Thomas is doing, but Thomas tells him that this is an emergency.

At the accident site, Thomas pushes the rest of James' trucks away while Jerome and Judy lift a very battered and dirty James back onto the tracks. The Fat Controller tells Thomas to take James to the Steamworks.

Later that night, at Tidmouth Sheds, the workmen and engines cheer for Thomas. Even Gordon is impressed. Sir Topham tells everyone how James will be fitted with proper brakes and given a new coat of paint and he is going to give Thomas his own branch line for being so brave; Thomas is delighted. Gordon asks the Fat Controller who will shunt the trucks and coaches while Thomas is away. Sir Topham tells him that until he can find another small tank engine, he might have to do it himself. Gordon is distraught at hearing this, but the other engines laugh.

A few days later, Thomas and Edward are in the yard when they see a red engine approaching. It is James in his new bright red paintwork and with new proper brakes. James asks Edward to fetch his coaches, but Annie and Clarabel tell him that they belong to Thomas now. He collects them and sets off on his way, but not forgetting to wake up Gordon first.

Thomas happily chuffs along the branch line with Annie and Clarabel. He pulls into Ffarquhar and is surprised to see a coffee pot engine on one of the sidings, covered in moss. The engine tells him to wear his number one with pride and as Thomas leaves, the engine introduces himself as Glynn. Thomas continues on his way, as happy as can be to be starting his new life on the Island of Sodor.


A station worker at Knapford also speaks; he is voiced by Keith Wickham in both dubs. Some passengers and workmen also speak; some of them are also voiced by Keith Wickham.

Characters Introduced



UK and AUS


Bonus Features





  • This special was made to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the franchise.
    • This is also the second special to celebrate the franchise's anniversary, the first being "Calling All Engines!".
  • The events of Edward and Gordon, Thomas and Gordon, The Sad Story of Henry, Thomas' Train, Thomas and the Trucks and Thomas and the Breakdown Train are featured and remade. The events of Edward, Gordon and Henry are also mentioned.
  • The Fat Controller says that the big engines "would have to fetch their own coaches until he can get another small engine," which foreshadows the events of Trouble in the Shed.
  • For some reason, Henry was not in his original "pre-flying kipper crash" shape, likely due to time/budget constraints nor was he painted blue, most likely for the same reason he was not painted blue in the first season; to avoid the Gordon-Henry confusion that the Railway Series had.
  • Several recomposed pieces of music from the Classic Series are featured. Mike O'Donnell and Junior Campbell receive credit for "original songs and themes." Peter Hartshorne did research on YouTube for inspiration to recompose the pieces.
  • The end credits feature original illustrations from the Railway Series.
  • This special marks the first of several things:
  • This special brought several casting changes:
    • Keith Wickham takes over the role of Sir Topham Hatt in the US.
    • John Hasler, Joseph May, Rob Rackstraw and Christopher Ragland join the voice cast.
      • John Hasler and Joseph May take over the role of Thomas in the UK and US dubs respectively.
      • Rob Rackstraw takes over the role of James in the US.
      • Christopher Ragland takes over the role of the Troublesome Trucks in the UK and the US.
  • In the US version, just before Edward says "What are you so happy about today, Thomas?" Thomas is humming "Really Useful Engine."
  • This special was shown at The Theatres at Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, USA on Tuesday May 12th, 2015 and was also shown on PBS Kids on May 11th. The PBS airings included two Mr. Perkins segments and The Best Friends Express music video at the end to fill the timeslot.
    • It was also shown in The Paul Greengrass Cinema in Kent, United Kingdom from August 17th - 27th.
  • Sodor Island Fansite hinted on Twitter that, if the special sold well, a follow-up would be possible. The special is also hoped to be the start of a new 'mini special' series.
  • James' line "Heeeere's James!" is a reference to the line "Heeeere's Johnny!" from The Shining.
  • Running at 45 minutes, this is the shortest special to date.


  • In several scenes during the special, James' tender is seen in its red livery.
  • There are three scenes where there appears to be more than five engines working on the Railway:
    • Right after the title card, express coaches leave Knapford and a goods train enters. Edward, Gordon and James are in the yard and Thomas had not arrived yet, meaning Henry could not pull two trains unless he was pulling the express and James turned his goods train around.
    • Just before Thomas is cut off by Henry at Knapford, there is a small train of trucks that appears to be pulled by Salty. Gordon, James and Edward are at the station.
    • When James is first seen in his red livery, a train of trucks and oil tankers is seen leaving out the back of Knapford. Thomas, Edward and James are in the yard, Gordon is at the platform with the express and Henry is revealed to be on the main line in the other direction.
  • The tunnel that Gordon emerges from at the beginning is not rendered properly, as it overlaps the rails. He is also travelling under North American directional rules.
  • In the first scene of Edward shunting, there are two workmen standing at the signal box, but in the next shot they have disappeared.
  • When Gordon says "The last one he got, with the wooden brake blocks," he passes a signal, but in the next shot, he passes it again. Also, the light of the signal changes from red to green in between the shots.
  • When James moves away from blocking Gordon's line at the beginning, his pony truck does not turn.
  • When the Fat Controller receives a phone call at the beginning, there is a train moving through Knapford with very large gaps between the trucks.
  • When Edward is shunting after helping Gordon, the wheels on the trucks he is pushing slowly stop moving, then stop completely before Edward stops moving.
  • When the Fat Controller first meets Thomas, a train of oil tankers in the background disappears and reappears.
  • When Thomas is shunting some trucks into Knapford, the shadow from the middle truck is missing.
    • In the UK version, when James yells "Thomas, get out of the way!" his US voice is heard.
  • When Thomas approaches Tidmouth Sheds for the first time, Edward's boiler stripes are missing.
  • During the scene where Thomas has trouble waking up, the smoke from Henry's funnel goes through the shed.
  • Between the close-up of Gordon stopping at Wellsworth and another close-up of him saying "Oh yes!" the lighting changes direction.
  • In the first close-up of Thomas after waking up Jerome and Judy, a train of grey vans is in the background. In the next close-up, the train has disappeared.
  • After Annie and Clarabel tell Thomas not to bother Judy and Jerome, James approaches in the background, but there is no steam coming from his funnel.
  • When Thomas puffs up to the water tower during his montage in the yard, no water is emitted from the spout despite the sound of splashing being heard. This is fixed in the Never Overlook A Little Engine and Rules and Regulations music videos.
  • When Edward says "It's not as easy as you think, Thomas!" the points he is going over are against him and a crew member's hand is emerging through the wall of Edward's cab. When Thomas leaves with his train of trucks, Edward is on a long siding. However, in the next shot, when he says "Thomas, be careful!" he is closer to the buffers.
  • When Thomas leaves the coaches behind, in the very last frame of Thomas leaving Knapford, Edward's front bogie disappears.
  • When Thomas passes Henry while being pushed by the trucks, both engines are on a curve in the track. However, in the close-ups of Henry, the track is straight.
  • When Henry and Thomas leave Tidmouth Sheds together, Henry's wheels are moving backwards. Additionally, Henry is still laughing, even though his mouth has stopped moving.
  • In one of the promotional images of James during the runaway scene, he has a different brake van than he does in the rendered special.
  • In the US version, when James says "They're pushing me!" for the first time, his mouth does not move.
  • The tree branch that Thomas hits while chasing James seems to appear out of nowhere.
  • When James is lifted back onto the rails, Jerome and Judy lift him with his tender still attached.
  • When Thomas passes Gordon at Knapford at the end of the special, a goods train is seen derailed at the platform.
  • When Thomas is going to his branch line for the first time, he passes Henry on the main line (with three tracks), he then passes under the Rail Under Road Bridge and Signal box (with two tracks) before Henry is seen in the background again (on three tracks).
  • When Thomas arrives at Ffarquhar, he is not coupled to his coaches and Annie's wheels are missing.
  • The US DVD is de-interlaced, thus presenting the feature in 240p, as opposed to full 480p resolution.
  • When Thomas whistles at the waving signalmen, no steam emits from his whistle.
  • While Thomas is being repainted, in the shot of the workman adding the yellow lining to his cab door, the red lining on his tank can be seen but two shots later, the red line is applied.