TATMR THE STORY
Here, we recap the storyline to Thomas and the Magic Railroad!
Thomas meets Gordon at a station where we learn that The Fat Controller has decided to take a holiday away from the Railway. In his absence, he has asked that Mr Conductor visits Sodor to look after the engines and see to it that everything runs smoothly. Thomas is pleased that Mr Conductor is coming to help, but Gordon is less enthused – he feels that the engines can manage just fine without any outside help whilst Sir Topham is away... that is of course, until a fearsome old face returns to the Island!
The mean and brutish Diesel 10, has decided to take advantage of the situation and set his own plans for destruction and domination of the steam engines into action with a return to Sodor, along with two of his friends, a pair of shunting Diesels called Splatter and Dodge. Diesel 10 is on the hunt for an engine who escaped him long ago – so long as she exists, so do the other engines on the Island of Sodor, but if she can be destroyed, then they will too. Diesel 10 intends to use the opportunity to dominate the steam engines who will soon become nothing more than ‘useless scrap’.
Meanwhile, in Shining Time, Mr Conductor is preparing to come and assume his duties. But before he does, some strange discoveries are made at Shining Time Station. Patch, a young boy who does odd-jobs around the town, finds some strange lines, which resemble railroad tracks, on a map given to him by Billy Two-Feathers, the railroad engineer. Billy smiles and explains it’s a ‘mystery which makes the valley so magical’. Stacy Jones, the Station Manager, has also found an old picture drawn by Burnett Stone, a former railroad engineer for the Indian Valley Railroad (which Shining Time Staton serves). Mr Conductor recognises the scene as the Island of Sodor, and is confused as to how Burnett would be able to travel there without gold dust...
Mutt the Dog senses trouble and tries to urge Mr Conductor not to leave Shining Time. Mr Conductor knows he must do his duty and whilst acknowledging Mutt’s concern, he goes anyway. But Mutt knows something is going to go wrong, so he hops onboard Billy’s train headed for the big city and sets off to find help which could solve everything and save the day.
On the other side of Muffle Mountain, near Shining Time, Burnett Stone is tending to his engine, Lady, when he is discovered by Patch in his workshop. Burnett has kept her hidden away for many years to keep her safe from harm. Following the unfortunate incident with the cruel Diesel all those years ago, Lady crashed, and since then Burnett has never been able to bring her back to life and make her steam again. He has tried all the different coals in the valley, but nothing seems to work.
Burnett has since become a depressive recluse, a prisoner of the guilt inside him for the mistake he made at that time, choosing to spend most of his time in his workshop on the other side of Muffle Mountain. Until Patch visited him, the only other person who knew of Lady’s existence was Burnett’s late wife, Tasha. As he tends to the engine, he reflects upon her words to him to guard Lady well – but all the while, he knows he’s let her down. Burnett knows he doesn't understand about magic anymore, but his grand-daughter, Lily, is about to prove to be a real player in the re-establishment of that.
The engines are worried about Diesel 10’s presence, and Thomas is concerned about how long it is taking Mr Conductor to reach Sodor. When he finally does, the two share their problems – Mr Conductor mentions that the journey from Shining Time is becoming bumpier and bumpier, whilst Thomas explains about Diesel 10 causing trouble. Mr Conductor promises to take care of the situation by popping in and out with his sparkle wherever he goes to keep him in order. But Diesel 10 knows that it will take a lot more than that to keep him at bay, and he confidently continues with his plan.
Later at the sheds, Toby reminds the engines that despite their individual differences, it is important that they all stand on their own wheels against Diesel 10 and his bullying together. Henry agrees and tells the others that Diesel knows that the ‘lost engine’ is a threat to him, because her magic makes her more powerful than he will ever be – that’s why he wants to find her and get rid of her. The engines agree that it is now most important that they find her first.
Mr Conductor assumes his duties as Acting Controller in The Fat Controller’s absence and settles down to sleep with the engines inside Tidmouth Sheds. But it’s here that the extent of his ‘gold dust crisis’ deepens. Diesel 10 sneaks around the side of the shed and uses his mechanical claw – ‘Pinchy’ – to batter through the scaffolding at the side of the shed and intimidate the engines. Mr Conductor tries to escape by using his magic gold-dust, but it doesn’t work – he’s stuck and at Diesel’s mercy! It’s only when he threatens to toss a bag full of sugar in Diesel’s tank that he finally subsides and slips away – but warns Mr Conductor that he will be back.
Thomas and the other engines are now more worried than ever. They don’t know how Mr Conductor will manage without his gold dust. Mr Conductor tries to be brave and encourages the engines not to worry, but as he lies down to sleep, he remembers what the Conductor family before him told him – about the sparkle, magic, railroad, buffers, lost engine and that “as long as there is a railroad, there will be harmony – as long as there is gold dust there will be energy”. Percy overhears him talking and wonders what it all means.
Then, as Mr Conductor finally settles down to sleep, he has a dream about Stacey wandering sadly through a forlorn and untidy Shining Time street, outside the closed station calling out for him, asking why he couldn’t travel to the Island of Sodor anymore, or why he couldn’t come home to Shining Time again. “The Magic has all gone...” Mr Conductor springs to life again, realising the gravity of the situation and how much danger the Island of Sodor is truly in – he needs to find more gold dust and fast!
Lily is now on her way to visit her grandfather at Muffle Mountain, travelling from the Big City Station, where Billy Two-Feathers and Mutt are waiting to take the Shining Time train. But before she can board her train, she’s met by Mutt the dog, who leads her to the Shining Time train, instead of the one heading for Muffle Mountain. Lily does not suspect anything and believes that Mutt has led her to the right train... but Mutt knows that he has done the right thing by putting Lily on the wrong train. She may be the right person to help Mr Conductor solve his gold dust crisis – provided she can meet the right person at Shining Time Station first.
Mr Conductor is out to try and solve his gold-dust crisis and tries to find the Windmill, which his family told him would help him if such trouble ever occurred. He tries to use his sparkle to reach there, but soon finds his supply is completely spent. He soon realises it’s time to call his younger, blonder, Scottish cousin – C Junior – who is currently lazing on a beach in glorious sunshine to help find the source of the family’s gold dust. C Junior is less than enthusiastic about cutting his holiday short to visit to the Island of Sodor, but knows he must do his duty – he’s running out of gold dust as well! and heads off to Shining Time to get an emergency supply of gold-dust to ease Mr Conductor and himself through the crisis.
When Lily’s train gets to Shining Time, Mutt urges her to step off and follow him inside. She’s not sure why Mutt has brought her here – it’s just an empty station... until she hears C Junior banging and crashing around inside Mr Conductor’s Signal House. Curious, she knocks on the door and C Junior appears to greet her, they chat briefly before he disappears back inside to continue looking for something to help Mr Conductor. When he disappears again, Lily wipes the surface of the wood he has been standing on – it’s covered in gold dust.
Mr Conductor is having a very difficult time. He’s run out of gold dust and he’s stranded by the side of the railway line – and no-one knows where he is. Thomas puffs past in the night looking for him, but even though Mr Conductor calls to him, Thomas doesn’t hear and steams on by. All he can do is lie in the grass and think about everything that could go wrong in his magical universe without the aid of his gold-dust. He wonders what the source of it all is... and how he can say he’s really useful now?
Lily is given a ride to meet her Grandpa at Muffle Mountain from Stacey, and they chat about Lily’s grandmother, Tasha. It’s here that Lily mentions that she thinks Burnett used to call Tasha ‘Lady’ – she had heard him say that name when they were talking before... Stacey sighs and says, “I wish...” most likely thinking of the ‘lost engine’ that holds the link between Shining Time and the Island of Sodor. When Lily questions her on it when they meet Burnett, Stacey says that she ‘wishes’ that Lily would come back and visit them at Shining Time tomorrow.
That night, when Lily is in bed, Patch is running with his horse, and Grandpa is tending to the fire, they all hear the sound of an engine’s whistle blowing across Muffle Mountain in the wind. To Lily, the sound is mysterious and strange, but both Patch and Burnett know that it’s Lady calling out to them, knowing that she’s needed on the Island of Sodor again.
At Knapford Station, Percy has been thinking about what Mr Conductor said in his sleep, and about how he travels to the Island. Percy believes that if there is a ‘lost engine’ there must be a ‘lost railway’ too, which the engine must have ran on. Diesel 10 is listening intently to their conversation in the nearby goods shed, and hurries off to tell Splatter and Dodge all about what he’s heard. Unknown to him, however, Toby has been watching Diesel 10 and follows him to the Smelter’s Yard where he’s holding his meeting.
Diesel 10 is confident that he’s finally got Mr Conductor and the Steam Engines cornered – all he needs to do is find the magic buffers which lead to Mr Conductor’s Magic Railway, and nothing can stop him. Toby decides to take action and rings his bell as loudly as he can to distract Diesel 10. Diesel 10 is absolutely furious – his plans have been rumbled and he lurches into action – sending ‘Pinchy’ into a frenzy, which knocks one of the shed’s supports down and traps him, Splatter and Dodge under its roof!
The following day, Henry has boiler-ache and cannot work – so Thomas goes to a siding to collect six trucks of Special Coal to make him feel better. But as Thomas is shunting them into a train, he ends up losing one of them when it mysteriously disappears. Unknown to him, it has slid down the siding and through the ‘Magic Buffers’ leading to the Magic Railroad.
Later, he meets Percy who suggests that the buffers may be the ones that lead to the secret railway, and the adjacent ‘grotto’ is the lost engine’s special platform. Both engines are very excited about their discovery – but Percy is less than enthused when Thomas suggests that he keeps it safe from Diesel whilst Thomas goes off to look for Mr Conductor.
But Mr Conductor is having troubles of his own – he’s all alone, out of sparkle and now, he’s been found by Diesel 10 as he walks back along the railway line. Diesel 10 takes hold of Mr Conductor and holds him over the edge of a viaduct inside ‘Pinchy’, demanding to know where the buffers to the Magic Railway are so that he can find the lost engine. Mr Conductor is in a panic – he can see the viaduct starting to crumble beneath him, just as he had done in his dream. Diesel 10 begins a countdown before getting ready to drop Mr Conductor – however, he finds a set of scissors just in time, which help him escape Diesel 10’s clutches by cutting one of Pinchy’s tubes – sending him flying through the air and to the Windmill.
Mr Conductor is delighted. Coming from a perilous situation, he has found himself in a serendipitious one instead and he can now find the clue his family spoke of to help him solve his problem. He sweeps back some branches from the side of the Windmill, and sees a strange message appear on the bricks – ‘Stoke up the magic in the mountain, and the lady will smile... then watch the swirls that spin so well...’ but before he can take in the full message and absorb it properly, it disappears.
Back at Muffle Mountain, Lily meets Patch for the first time. He takes Lily for a ride on the back of his horse back to Shining Time, following the mysterious shadowy lines which Patch saw on the map that Billy loaned him. Her granddad slips away to his workshop to tend to Lady, still wondering how he can bring her back to life.
Whilst in Shining Time, Lily returns to the Station where she meets C Junior again. Junior is about to leave for the Island of Sodor and invites Lily to come along with him, provided she can be back before sunset. But in order to transport Lily as well as himself, he will need to use the supply he is supposed to bring for Mr Conductor to bring him home. Lily and C Junior travel through the Magic Railroad on their way to the Island of Sodor. The Railroad looks worn and dark, losing energy and slowly fading away to nothing.
When they arrive on Sodor, Lily is surprised at what she sees and hears as she stands on a hillside watching the engines puffing through the countryside, and meets Thomas for the first time. Thomas is delighted – he thinks he’s found Mr Conductor at last, but is less than enthused to find that it’s Junior, who stuffed party-poppers down Thomas’s funnel the last time they met. Junior laughs it off saying they “had a laugh”, Thomas snorts and huffily reminds him Junior certainly did...
Thomas takes Lily and C Junior to look for Mr Conductor – and after a short search, they find him at the Windmill safe and well. The only snag is that Mr Conductor cannot remember the clue to solving the gold-dust crisis. And to make matters worse, Junior’s love of mischief lands him in trouble – after climbing on the sails of the windmill for a ride, he gets caught up in a gust of wind and is sent flying across the air – right onto the back of Diesel 10 who’s out on the prowl.
Poor Lily is now stranded along with the Conductors on the Island of Sodor, and when Patch returns to Muffle Mountain without her, he has no explanation to offer her grandpa as to where she is or could be. Grandpa Stone is concerned, but maintains hope that they will find Lily in the end.
Late into the night, Percy is puffing through the mist to the little grotto to make sure that the buffers are still safe, only to find that Splatter and Dodge have found them. Neither of the Diesels want to go through them for fear of what might happen to them, and decide to leave it to Diesel 10 to do it himself. Percy puffs back to find Thomas at once and tell him what has happened.
Mr Conductor and Thomas try to do what they can to keep Lily’s spirits up, but she is still concerned that she cannot reach home. But Mr Conductor thinks Grandpa Stone can guess where she is, because he has been to Sodor himself long ago. The two begin talking about the lost engine and Lily mentions that she has heard a strange whistle coming from Muffle Mountain – this helps Mr Conductor remember part of the clue to his gold-dust ‘Stoke up the magic in the mountain and the lady will smile...’
Grandpa Stone and Patch are in the Workshop on Muffle Mountain tending to Lady, whilst contemplating what to do about the missing Lily. Patch tells Grandpa Stone that he has heard Lady whistle. Grandpa confides in him that that is because Lady is magic. Having ridden over the ground above the magic railroad, Patch can feel the energy is fading, and Grandpa explains that it needs Lady to survive, but he doesn’t know the special secret to make her work... and he needs to know now more than ever to bring Lily home again.
Percy finally finds Thomas and Mr Conductor and tells them about Splatter and Dodge. Lily will have to leave Sodor as soon as possible in case Diesel 10 gets rid of the Magic Railroad, and the only way Mr Conductor knows how is to send her with the lost engine... unless a very reluctant Thomas can be persuaded to do it instead! Thomas is frightened his wheels won’t work and that it might be cold, dark and bumpy – but Mr Conductor insists that he is a really useful engine and that he will find a way, so Thomas agrees and takes Lily.
The Magic Railroad is cold, dark and bumpy, but Thomas is determined to get Lily home to Grandpa Stone on Muffle Mountain despite everything they’re facing. On the way through, they are surprised to find the missing coal truck, realising it may be a key to helping Mr Conductor solve the clue to his gold dust, they reverse and collect it to take through to Muffle Mountain so that Grandpa Stone can ‘stoke up the magic in the mountain’ and get Lady fired up again. They’re now confident they’re solving the mysteries!
Thomas is most surprised to find himself on top of Muffle Mountain, teetering over the edge of a hill. And when Lily hurries off to find Grandpa Stone, he finds himself hurtling down the hill out of control, amazingly following the path of the Magic Railroad and back down a magical portal back to Sodor. Lily finds Patch who gives her a ride on his horse back to Grandpa Stone’s workshop so that she can explain all about what’s happened.
Grandpa Stone is thrilled to have Lily back safe and sound and she explains all about what’s happened on the Island of Sodor. Grandpa wants to help, but he can’t. He doesn’t know how to make Lady steam.
But Lily thinks the special coal from the Island of Sodor might help and she asks Patch to go and fetch some from the coal truck that she and Thomas brought from Sodor through the Magic Railroad.
Diesel 10 has taken Junior on a ride across the island all the way to the Smelter’s Yard, where he attempts to back both him and James, who is trapped between Diesel 10 and the buffers at the back of the Smelting Shed, into oblivion.
Junior is out of options and all James can do to escape the clutches of Diesel 10 is back along the line and slowly break through the buffers to certain doom.
Realising they are in grave danger with Diesel 10 and Pinchy looming large in front of them and a long drop behind, Junior decides he has to make a huge sacrifice and use up the last of his gold dust to save himself and James so that he can continue to try and help Mr Conductor and Lily.
With a final blast of his whistle, he sparkles himself and James out of the smelting shed and to the magic grotto where Mr Conductor is waiting.
When Junior admits to Mr Conductor that they’re all out of gold dust, he’s very disappointed and knows what this is liable to mean for both of them. Junior tries to remain upbeat, reminding him that they’re “down but not out”. But Mr Conductor is less convinced, “We’re out, but we’re not down.”
Back on Muffle Mountain, Lily and Grandpa Stone are preparing Lady to run again. At long last, her firebox is full of special coal and it’s burning nicely, ready to take them to Sodor. For the first time in a very long time, Lady puffs out of Grandpa Stone’s workshop on Muffle Mountain and back onto the Magic Railroad, carrying Lily, Patch, Mutt and Grandpa Stone to Sodor.
As they puff along, the Railroad begins to regain its energy as swirls of magic fly up from the track below. Lily grabs them in her bag and packs them away safely. At long last Grandpa Stone can smile again – he’s finally achieved his goal. And while he laments the fact that his late wife, Tasha, couldn’t take a ride on Lady also – but he takes solace and great pride in the fact that Lily is there with him at his long-awaited moment of personal glory, and knows that Tasha would have been proud that she was there with him.
Finally, with a last burst of magical energy, the Railroad returns to full strength to become a world of vivid colour and beauty – and Lady regains her own face as she puffs ever nearer Sodor again. Thomas returns along the Railroad behind them and gives a whistle of joy when he sees Lady – restored and looking beautiful.
They puff through the Magic Buffers and stop at the Wishing Well where Mr Conductor and Junior are waiting. Junior is delighted to see that the Lost Engine has returned, believing that it will be their ticket home to Shining Time and that all is finally well again.
But Mr Conductor knows that without gold-dust, all is lost for himself and Junior. Without it, the magic cannot exist...
As Thomas emerges from the Magic Buffers, he catches the attention of Diesel 10 who is rounding the bend with Splatter and Dodge. Diesel 10 finally has his chance to finish what he started and is determined to destroy both Thomas and Lady. But Splatter and Dodge have a sudden change of heart and decide to stay back. Diesel 10 is undeterred and ploughs forward as Thomas and Grandpa Stone prepare to rush Lady to safety and out of Diesel 10’s reach. And it’s only when she’s racing away that Mr Conductor and Junior realise that she’s part of the clue to the source of the gold dust!
Diesel 10 chases Thomas, Lady and Grandpa up the Main Line, lunging at them with his giant mechanical claw, but all are adamant that he will not succeed in his plans and race for dear life. As they approach the viaduct, it’s instability has worsened and bits of it are continuing to fall away into the river below. Thomas and Lady rush across and the entire middle section falls away completely, leaving a huge gap over the river.
When Diesel 10 reaches the same part, he brakes hard, but cannot stop in time.
He finds himself calling for Thomas’s help whilst hanging on precariously to a sleeper, which eventually breaks away and sends him falling through the air into a barge full of sludge which tows him away down river, broken and embarrassed.
Back at the Grotto, Thomas and Lady are safe and well, but Mr Conductor and Junior still don’t have their gold dust. The final part of the clue is still out of his reach – “watch the swirls that spin so well...” but Patch knows the answer – it’s the wonderful shavings that Lily collected when Lady was running over the Magic Railroad, and Junior thinks if they’re mixed with water from the well, they could generate gold dust. Mr Conductor encourages Lily to put the shavings in with the water and throw them into the air. When she does, the shavings turn to gold dust, which Mr Conductor and Junior harness to restore their magical energy again. Thomas and Lady are delighted.
As a parting gift, Junior gives Lily some of his gold-dust. Even he has learned from the experience and is now ready to be really useful at last, so Mr Conductor hands him his hat and gives him responsibility for looking after the Magic Railroad. But he too has work to do, and hurries off to the sheds to meet Sir Topham Hatt, who is due to return from his holiday, at the sheds.
Lily and Grandpa Stone are now alone at the Grotto before going home themselves. She pours the gold dust into his hand as a gift for him before he sprinkles it over her toy bluebird, so that they will always remember their shining time together.
All is well in Shining Time again, and Mr Conductor returns home safely to continue working at the Station, whilst Thomas chuffs cheerfully into the sunset and heads for the comfort of his nice warm shed.
In the end a number of important lessons have been learned. Junior has gained from the experience and is now willing to work - so Mr Conductor gives him a very important job, tending to the Magic Railroad. Mr Conductor himself now knows better than to take his gold dust for granted. Burnett Stone now knows that he never forgot about magic - it just took more time to reveal itself, and with it, brought a smile back to his face. Thomas himself now knows what he believes is true - "Little Engines Can Do Big Things"! And as for Lily, she and her grandpa have been brought closer together, and understand each other better through their magical experience and their magical engine. Knowing that forever, they'll always remember their shining time together...!