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This article is about 'the Railway Series book'. You may be looking for the steam engine, the 1991 board book', the 1999 board book, the magazine story, the Story Library book or the Engine Adventures book'.
"James was a new engine who lived at a station at the other end of the line. He had two small wheels in front and six driving wheels behind. They weren't as big as Gordon's and they weren't as small as Thomas'."
— The introduction to James

James the Red Engine is the third book of the Railway Series.


Dear friends of Edward, Gordon, Henry and Thomas,
Thank you for your kind letters. Here is the new book for which you asked.

James, who crashed in the story of Thomas the Tank Engine, settles down and becomes a Useful Engine.

We are nationalised now, but the same engines still work the Region. I am glad, too, to tell you that the Fat Director, who understands our friends' ways, is still in charge, but is now the Fat Controller.

I hope you will enjoy this book, too.
The Author


James and the Top-Hat

James has recovered from his accident and now has a new coat of red paint. He starts learning how to pull passenger trains with Edward. At the platform, he accidentally showers water over the Fat Controller's new top-hat and then, afraid of the consequences, starts off suddenly. During the run, he almost forgets to drop off his passengers and to top everything off he disturbs an old lady with his hiccups after hearing about the time Edward had to help Gordon up the hill. That night, James is scared of what the Fat Controller will say.

James and the Bootlace

James is grumpy after being threatened by blue paint and having to fetch his own coaches. It takes the biscuit when no one comes near him at the platform and James is so determined to pay everyone out that he does not take care with his coaches and causes a leak in the brake-pipe. The crew determines that they need newspaper and leather bootlaces to fix it until they get home and after a great amount of persuasion, a man named Jeremiah Jobling hands his bootlaces over and the train manages to get home.

Troublesome Trucks

James is shut up for several days for his bad behaviour, but when the Fat Controller comes to see him, James apologises and is let out to take a goods train. The trucks play tricks on James and break away on Gordon's Hill, but James tries again and with some support from Edward, gets the train to Killdane. The Fat Controller is pleased and allows James to keep his red paint.

James and the Express

Gordon brags that he knows the right line by "instinct", but is proven wrong when he is switched off the Main Line onto the loop. The Fat Controller asks James to take the Express and after a successful run and the promise of being allowed to take the Express, James returns to see Gordon shunting. The two become friends and Gordon refrains from teasing James about the bootlace incident.




  • The Reverend W. Awdry often stated this was his least favourite book, as, instead of being written from experience, it was published merely to meet a deadline.
  • From this book onwards, the Fat Director is renamed into his far better-known title of the Fat Controller.
  • The book was released digitally for Apple products on 11th May 2012.
  • A 70th anniversary print was released on 16th April 2015.
  • James and the Top-Hat is based on an event that occurred at Ghent, Belgium.
  • The events of this book took place in 1925.


  • Throughout "James and the Bootlace" the number of coaches changes.
  • In the third illustration of "Troublesome Trucks", a sad van is at the front of James' train. For the remainder of the story, its face disappears.
  • In the final illustration, Gordon is missing his steam-pipes and the curve at the bottom of his valance.
  • In the fifth illustration of "James and the Top-Hat", Thomas' number is missing, his siderods are blue, the red lining on his splasher is missing and the smaller window on the side of his cab is missing.
  • In the sixth illustration of "James and the Top-Hat", James is missing his buffers.
  • In the fourth illustration of "James and the Express", James does not have any cab windows.
  • Between the fifth and sixth illustrations of "Troublesome Trucks", the grass on the sides of Gordon's Hill becomes lighter.
  • In the sixth illustration of "James and the Express", Gordon's front coupler is missing.
  • In the Island of Sodor: Its People, History and Railways, it was mentioned that in "Troublesome Trucks" James took his trucks to Killdane, but the illustration shows Wellsworth instead.

In Other Languages

Language Name Meaning
Japanese 赤い機関車ジェームス James the Red Locomotive
Chinese 亮闪闪的詹姆士 Shiny James
Korean 빨간 기관차 제임스 Red Locomotive James