Foolish Freight Cars' is the ninth episode of the first series.


It has been several days since James damaged one of his coaches, and since then has been shut up in the shed as a punishment. Having been left alone and not allowed out to push coaches or trucks, James begins to cry thinking that no one will ever see his red paint again. However, the Fat Controller finally returns and tells James that he hopes that he will be a better engine as he has caused a lot of embarrassment for the railway. James sincerely apologises and promises to behave. The Fat Controller accepts his apology and assigns him to pull some trucks. James is delighted to be let out and eagerly goes to work

At the station, Thomas brings James his trucks and teases him about bootlaces before leaving, much to his annoyance. James couples himself to the troublesome trucks, who tease him for his red paint; James just ignores them and despite their protest, firmly sets off with them. During the journey, the trucks make several attempts to hold him back but each time James' crew manages to correct the problems, and then he continues on. The trucks then begin shouting at James to give up, but it is no use as James is determined to prove himself a better engine.

Finally the train reaches Gordon's Hill and James tries to pull the trucks up as fast as he can, which is initially tricky. Then halfway up, the pulling suddenly gets easier, but his driver stops him and points out that the brake van and the last four trucks have broken away and are running back down the hill. Fortunately, the guard manages to bring them to a stop at the bottom, and gets out to warn oncoming engines.

James reverses downhill to retrieve the end of his train, while Edward has just been stopped behind it. Edward offers to help, but James politely declines, determined to do it himself. Edward obliges and encourages James as he makes his way up the hill. Pulling with every ounce of his strength, James finally reaches the top of the hill and safely continues to the destined station. Later as James rests; Edward arrives with the Fat Controller, James is very worried, thinking the Fat Controller will be cross with him again. This time, however, the Fat Controller is happy with James, having seen everything from aboard Edward's train. Since James managed to make the trucks behave, the Fat Controller allows him to keep his red paint.



  • Tidmouth Sheds
  • Knapford
  • Knapford Bus Yard
  • The Woodland Runby
  • Gordon's Hill
  • Maron
  • Maron Signals Runby


  • This episode is based on the story of the same name from The Railway Series book, James the Red Engine.
  • Stock footage from Thomas and the Trucks is used.
  • In George Carlin's narration on Thomas and His Friends Help Out, the line "After that performance, you deserve to keep your red coat," is cut. The uncut scene was added on Thomas and Friends - Vol. 1, but only for a limited time. It is now available on Thomas & Friends Classic Volume 1.
  • In the restored version, an extended close-up shot of James at Maron is used.
  • This episode is the first instance in the series in which an engine, in this case, James, is seen crying.
  • Starting with this episode, any episode featuring Edward up to the seventh series would end with his second nameboard in Japan.


  • When the Fat Controller first speaks to James, his head is turned away from him.
  • Thomas' eyes are wonky in the opening scene.
  • James' tender is derailed while Thomas arranges his train. Also, the siding that James is on has no buffers.
  • When Thomas says "Have you got some bootlaces ready?" there is blu-tak under his lantern. Knapford is also missing in that scene.
  • When Thomas puffs off, James' eyes briefly jitter. They are also wonky. 
  • When James puffs out of the yard, the truck at the front loses its face and regains it as James pulls the trucks up Gordon's Hill the first time. Also, the train next to James on a siding has a brake van in the middle of it.
  • When Thomas puffs away laughing, all the trucks are coupled to each other. But when James backs onto the trucks, one at the front is uncoupled.
  • When the trucks get to the bottom of Gordon's Hill, a truck disappears. It, however, reappears in the last shot of James pulling the trucks.
  • When James goes up Gordon's Hill the second time, a wire pulls him up.
  • James' puffing noise is not in sync with his speed.
  • When the narrator says the line "and sometimes their axles would run hot," a crew member's shadow is seen in the bottom left corner of the screen.
  • When Edward is first shown at the bottom of Gordon's Hill, he has no train. When James backs down and couples to the lost trucks, look carefully and you can see Edward has at least one truck behind him.
  • In the close-up of James at Maron, the water tower next to him disappears.
  • In the last close-up of James going up Gordon's Hill, his driving wheels are not moving and when they start to move, they are going backwards.
  • When James couples up to his train, he is outside the station, but when he starts moving off, he is inside it.
  • When Edward talks to James at Maron, his tender is not seated properly on the chassis.


[Hide] View content


Name Published Publisher Highlights Photo
James 2003 Egmont
  • My Thomas Story Library book
  • Also based on James and the Coaches
James 2016 Egmont
  • Engine Adventures book
  • Also based on James and the Coaches

Home Media Releases



Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.