The Island Continental
One morning in the sheds at Knapford Sam was looking up at the sky. Stafford noticed this. “Daydreaming about something?” he asked curiously. “I’m daydreaming about what it’d be like to pull an express passenger train,” sighed Sam happily. “Pah!” grumbled Gordon, who had stayed in their shed that previeous night. “Goods engines pull goods trains and passenger engines pull passenger trains,” he said rudely. He then puffed off to the platform. “Never mind him Sam,” said Stafford kindly. “Gordon thinks he’s the only one who can pull passenger trains, when we both know that’s not true.” Sam smiled slightly, but he wasn’t sure.
As the engines began their day’s work on Sodor, all the way at King’s Cross station in London, passengers were boarding the “Island Continental”, which was pulled by Caitlin. As passengers and luggage were loaded, Caitlin didn’t arrive. “Phone the running sheds,” ordered the stationmaster.
At the running sheds Caitlin was awake, but didn’t have a crew. Finally a car pulled up with her driver and fireman. “Hurry up you two!” she complained. “We’ll be late arriving to Sodor!” “All in good time,” said the driver firmly. But Caitlin didn’t believe this. She only started to when they pulled out and went to the water tower, near the station. The fireman walked up and filled her tank. “It’s full,” called the driver, who was watching the water gauge on the tender. The fireman began to secure the crane of the water tower. “Come on! Come on!” Caitlin kept saying this til it annoyed him and he simply didn’t secure it properly. They puffed over to the station. The stationmaster was waiting with his watch in his hand. “Nearly late,” he sneered as the guard gave the “right away”. Caitlin blew her whistle and pulled out of the station.
They were soon out on the road. They were a quarter of the way when the fireman noticed Caitlin’s water tank was running low. “We must stop for more water,” he decided. “We mustn’t stop,” protested Caitlin. “We must get to Tidmouth station by nine o’ clock tonight!” The driver and fireman sighed and didn’t reply. They’d had enough of Caitlin being bossy. So they went onwards.
Meanwhile on Sodor Gordon had arrived at the Docks with his express passenger train. The Fat Controller was there. “Ah, Gordon! I’ve got another job for you. You’re to pull a slow goods train to the yards at Knapford.” Then he left to attend to other matters. Gordon fumed as he backed down onto the goods train. “I thought you only pulled coaches,” teased Porter. Gordon just blew off steam and set off.
Caitlin was near Barrow station when it happened. She ran out of water and came to a halt. It was already late in the day, round five o’ clock, and she knew now that the delay would mean complaints from the passengers. “I’m very sorry for being rude. I thought I was in charge of making sure this train ran on tiem. I now know that you help me get to my destinations on time.” “That’s alright Caitlin. We’ve made mistakes ourselvers,” said her driver kindly. The guard came up. “What’s happened?” “Caitlin ran out of water. We’ll need to call for help.” “I’ll go at once,” said the fireman as he climbed down from the cab.
Sam had arrived at Vicarstown with a train of produce and food goods. He was having a rest, waiting for his driver to return from the yard master’s office with another job, but when his driver returned, he looked serious. “We’re to go and help Caitlin out. She’s ran out of water, and is running late due to this. We’ll have to push the train the rest of the journey. Think you can do it Sam?” “I’ll try Sir,” said Sam confidently.
Sam ran thirty miles up the line to find Caitlin. He’d ran tender first, so his boiler was facing the direction the train was going. It’d make the job easier. He was coupled up and they set off again.
Gordon was pulling another goods train. His mood had changed. Although his paintwork was dirty, he’d been given wonderful comments. “Maybe goods trains are as good as passenger trains,” he thought. He approached a signal at danger. He stopped. Then he heard a whistle that shrieked madly. There was Caitlin, thundering by, and at the back of her twelve carriage train, was Sam, doing all the work, and not breaking a sweat. In moments the train had gone.
They arrived at Tidmouth station an hour late. The Fat Controller was there to apologize for the delay. “You’ll have seats for your scheduled trains at half price and will be on them tomorrow.” This made the passengers feel a little better.
The next morning at Tidmouth sheds Gordon spoke to Sam. “I’m sorry for being rude. We engines might be made for a specific job, but we can do a variety of jobs.” “Yes indeed,” agreed Sam.