45699 Galatea . by Steven Barker
Via Flickr:
Ex LMS Jubilee steam locomotive 45699 Galatea , at York waiting to couple up to the Scarborough Spa Express .


Visual history of Thomas the tank engine’s design.

  1. The original wooden model Rev. Wilbert Awdry made for his son. It’s loosely based on the LNER J50 class. He made it sometime in the early 1940s, a few years before the first Railway Series book, Three Railway Engines (1945).
  2. Rev. Awdry’s first illustration of Thomas.
  3. Reginald Payne’s illustration of Thomas from the Railway Series Vol. 2: Thomas the Tank Engine, published in 1946. Payne reimagined Thomas as an LB&SCR E2 class.
  4. Rev. Awdry’s scale model of Thomas, built for his home layout sometime after 1970. This model and others Rev. Awdry built are preserved at the Talyllyn Railway in Wales, a preserved narrow gauge railway Rev. Awdry helped promote and volunteered at.
  5. The original model built for the television series, which premiered in 1984. It’s a custom-built design, and faces were cast in resin. As only the eyes could move, the face was swapped to a different expression between shots. The design more closely resembles the illustration rather than the locomotive Thomas is based on.
  6. The new model for Thomas, built for the movie Thomas and the Magic Railroad, 2000. This one is made mostly from brass, has newly recast face masks, and brighter eyes.
  7. The updated Thomas model with a CGI-rendered face, from season 12, 2008. In this experimental season, models and CGI animation by Nitrogen Studios were mixed together, with people, animals, and the characters’ faces being animated.
  8. Full CGI render, used since the show went full CGI in 2009. It includes a number of minor visual touches to make him more resemble a real locomotive, like a proper cab interior, underworkings, etc.

(via Wye Move | Milwaukee Road FP7 104-C and F7 118-C are eastbou… | Flickr)

Caption: “Milwaukee Road FP7 104-C and F7 118-C are eastbound on the main at Davis Jct. They backed around the west leg of the wye after arriving from Mendota and are now heading to the east leg to back their train into the yard. October 1978. Both units are preserved at the Illinois Railway Museum.”

Photo by Lou Gerard



Let’s momentarily ignore the fact that “Rusty the Rescue” distorted the real life story of how LBSCR No. 55 “Stepney” was rescued and preserved by the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society into a completely fictional “great escape” tale about Rusty helping Stepney escape from an imaginary scrap yard ruled by “evil diesels”.

Because tossing aside the fact that it’s distorting real life events, the setbuilding, photography, and writing in the episode is fantastic, in particular this scrapyard scene.

In only a few brief moments to establish it, the atmosphere of this place feels very real, especially with the rusted over, half-scrapped remains of “dead” steam engines without faces strewn about haphazardly.

And then there’s the whole element of Stepney’s driver sitting with him in the cab. Maybe its just me, but I perceive a lot of “worldbuilding” in that I might even go as far to say actually delves into aspects of this universe that even the original Awdry books didn’t explore in much detail.

This scene is presumably taking place some time after midnight, and this driver came out of his way to this lonely, dank, secluded area to spend time with the engine he once used to drive, as Stepney waits in what’s effectively his deathbed, SURROUNDED by already partially demolished locomotives waiting either to be demolished himself, or to to slowly rust away.

I mean, just the fact that the other diesels tell Rusty that there’s only one engine on the sidings pretty much indirectly states that the other engines surrounding Stepney are in effect, “dead”, perhaps signified by the lack of faces on their smokebox doors.

The whole setup builds a feeling that engine crews can actually become attached to or befriend the machines they operate, enough for Stepney’s driver to actually come all the way out to comfort his doomed locomotive, and probably after a long day’s work, too.

I really only wish that this imagination had gone into a story about Rusty saving FICTIONAL locomotive character, because as an American kid seeing this episode in the early 90’s with no internet access, I had NO idea that Stepney or the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society actually existed, and the original purpose of Rev. W. Adwry writing “Stepney the Bluebell Engine” back in 1960 was to spread awareness amongst children that there were people rescuing and preserving steam locomotives and making a place for them to pull trains.

What’s even weirder is how the characters continuously talk throughout the episode talk about how “Rusty is looking for a Bluebell Engine.” but don’t even explain what a “Bluebell Engine” is supposed to be, and only briefly mention the “Bluebell railway” at the end, depicting it as a branch line on the Island of Sodor.

Knowing nothing about UK rail history, until I got my hands on the anthology of the original Awdry stories a year or two later, I was running around thinking the Stroudly Terriers were called “bluebell engines” or something.

Also, a localization problem, the UK version explains that “Rusty’s engineer became Stepney’s fireman”, which surely meant that Rusty’s MECHANIC who was on the footplate with Rusty’s driver became Stepney’s fireman.

But in the US, an engineer in this sense could also mean an engine DRIVER.

The line was unchanged when they re-dubbed the episode, so I remember watching this tape in 1994 and thinking “What? Rusty’s engineer became Stepney’s fireman? Then who the heck is driving Rusty on the trip back?”

Man I didn’t mean for this to become an in depth review of this episode, but hey, aspergers or something.


JR Tokyo Station (東京駅丸の内駅舎) with On-going Constructions, in Tokyo (東京) Japan by TOTORORO.RORO
Via Flickr:
JR Tokyo Station with on-going constructions in the front for Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games. After finishing, it will have better and large bus stations and conjunctions to handle huge number of visitors. Camera Information: Model: Sony ILCE-6000 (A6000) Lens: Sony 10-18mm f/4 Wide-Angle Zoom Lens OSS Alpha E-mount (SEL1018).

UNITED KINGDOM, Irwell Vale : A steam locomotive operated by the East Lancashire Railway transports passengers on a heritage railway experience in Irwell Vale, near Bury, north west England on July 16, 2015. The East Lancashire Railway preserves, restores and offers vintage train journeys with steam and diesel locomotives. The original East Lancashire Railway ceased to exist in 1859 but the name was revived in 1987 offering railway experiences on the formerly decommissioned Heywood to Rawtenstall section of line.   AFP PHOTO / OLI SCARFF                        

A Rock Island LWT-12 at Englewood Union Station (63rd & State) in Chicago.  This is the Rock Island Railroad’s locomotive #2 and its eight-car Aerotrain, an experimental ultra-lightweight train built by the Electro-Motive Division of General Motors.  The Rock Island Railroad purchased these trains for intercity use between Chicago and Peoria, but quickly reassigned them to commuter service between Chicago and Joliet.  This locomotive and its train proved unsuccessful in commuter service and was retired in 1965; it is preserved at the National Railway Museum in Green Bay, Wisconsin, but it is not operable.  Photo taken July 20, 1960, from the collection of Bill Molony.


Mullingar Westmeath Ireland 19th April 2016 by loose_grip_99
Via Flickr:
“Hoffmann GNR (I)” A close up of the rusting frames, axlebox & suspension of the Great Northern Railway (Ireland) steam locomotive tender lying abandoned in the yard of the equally abandoned engine shed at Mullingar. I assume it belongs to the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland who used to have this as a base but now appears to be concentrating all its preservation efforts at Whitehead, near Belfast & Dublin Connolly. A SR article from January 2017 states that it was built in 1948 to run with Class U or UG locos. RPSI are thinking about using it for the Class W Mogul they are building. The shed is alongside the abandoned MGWR line to Athlone which opened in 1851 as the first line to Galway.


I got to see The High Line today.

From 1934 to 1980, there was a freight rail line going along 10th avenue from 14th st to around 34th. After it was decommissioned, they wanted to demolish it, but in 1999 a group came together to preserve the unused railway.

Instead, they took the 1.45 mile long stretch of track and turned it into a park that’s elevate 3 stories above ground level in Midtown Manhattan.

The High Line is beautiful all year round. During the spring and summer there’s musicians and ice cream carts, during the fall you can get a birds eye view of the fall colors and during the winter you can see the snow fall on the city’s buildings.

The High Line is so often overlooked among tourists in New York City because it’s “out of the way” but it’s a free and beautiful way to really get a feel for the size and scope of Manhattan.

I’m going to miss it.