Journey Beyond Sodor

R Healy

Journey Beyond Sodor is the eleventh Thomas & Friends Direct-To-DVD Special produced by HIT Entertainment.  It is the fifth special to be written by Head Writer, Andrew Brenner.

Journey Beyond Sodor sees Thomas going off on a big adventure to the Mainland – away from his friends on Sodor and into unknown territory as he meets new friends of the ‘experimental’ variety and two engines who want him to help them out at the Steelworks – indefinitely!  Thomas faces new dangers, explores new places and endeavours to help his new friends realise they’re more special and more useful than they choose to realise.

Songs Of The Special

All song lyrics written by Andrew Brenner

All songs composed by Oliver Davis


Somebody Has To Be The Favourite

Performed by

Rob Rackstraw (UK / US)

Somebody Has To Be The Favourite (Reprise

Performed by

John Hasler (UK)

Joseph May (USA)

Who's Thomas?

Performed by

John Hasler / Colin McFarlane / Kerry Shale / Rob Rackstraw / Christopher Ragland / Lucy Montgomery (UK)

Joseph May / Colin McFarlane / Kerry Shale / Rob Rackstraw / Christopher Ragland / Lucy Montgomery  (USA)


The Hottest Place In Town

Performed by

John Hasler / Sophie Colquhoun / Jim Howick (UK)

Joe May / Sophie Colquhoun / Jim Howick (USA)


I Want To Go Home

Performed by

John Hasler (UK)

Joseph May (USA)


We Can't Do Anything

Performed by

Lucy Montgomery / Darren Boyd / Hugh Bonneville (UK / USA)


The Most Important Thing Is Being Friends

Performed by

The Cast (UK / USA)

Journey Beyond Sodor was given an additional ten minutes on the running time of the special to expand the story, bringing it to a grand total of 70 minutes and making it the longest Thomas & Friends Special to date.  This was the second time in a row that Thomas had left the Island of Sodor in the course of a special – and the first to introduce new exaggerated movements for the engines, designed with the idea of giving the characters greater physical expression outside of their facial movements.


Lexi the Cab Forward Experimental Engine

Theo the Experimental Railway Traction Engine

Merlin the Experimental Stealth Engine

Hurricane the Decapod


Frankie the Diesel Engine



Beresford the Crane

Voice Cast





























Key Production Team


Christopher Keenan



(HIT Entertainment)

Ian McCue



(Jam Filled Animations)

Tracy Blagdon



Chris Renshaw



Sharon Miller



Sam Wilkinson


David Stoten


SiF’s original reviewer, Simon Martin gives his verdict on Thomas’s Journey Beyond Sodor – and discusses whether or not it went far enough in the right direction to steer the series forward to exciting new destinations!

Coming Soon!

To tie in with Journey Beyond Sodor, the SiF Team talk about their favourite experimental locomotives and their chequered histories.  Read about the little GWR engine who went on to become immortalised as a Hornby staple, the ‘Ghost’ that became a feature of a British Railway Stories episode and the Rail Zeppelin that could have revolutionised the railways of Germany!

To tie in with Journey Beyond Sodor, the SiF Team talk about their favourite Unusual Locomotives – such as the siamese twins of the Listowel and Ballybunion Monorail!

Related Videos

Our Playlist with official content from Journey Beyond Sodor, featuring trailers and interviews with the cast and crew!


Our playlist showcasing the best of the fan content made in honour of Journey Beyond Sodor, with excellent remakes with custom-made models and toys, reviews of the feature from other fans, and various other fun features


Our musical playlist, showcasing remixes, instrumentals, original compositions and cover versions by Michael Melton, TheTuggsterIntensifies, UpsideNowMusic and more!


Check out our playlist reviewing toys and playsets from Journey Beyond Sodor!


One day, Henry is pulling a very important goods train bound for the Mainland.  But as he approaches Vicarstown Station, he encounters faulty signal, which fails to warn him that another train hasn’t cleared the section. 

The weight of his train pushes him forward and causes him to derail, throwing him off the rails and over the side of the bridge, swinging precariously over the road below.

On the other side of the Island, Thomas is puffing down the Branch Line with Annie and Clarabel, feeling very cheerful and enjoying his day so much, that he wants to burst into song – only to find that James has beaten him to the punch, steaming into Knapford Station singing loudly that he’s the Fat Controller’s favourite engine. 

 This makes Thomas cross, but James just laughs and teases him, then proceeds to leave the station, singing all the more – with the passengers and workmen dancing along to his tune!

To add insult to injury, when he’s collecting pigs at Farmer Trotter’s farm, Thomas finds that James’ next job is taking a group of musicians around the Island – playing live!

That evening, the Fat Controller is rearranging the engines’ workload in light of Henry’s accident.  Thomas overhears him saying that James will be taking over Henry’s goods train, and delights in telling him that he’ll have to pull trucks instead of the passenger service he was meant to be running. 


At first, James is furious... then he realises what the goods train is and suddenly perks up – it’s Henry’s important goods train bound for Bridlington on the Mainland!

Thomas is upset about James getting all the important jobs, and tells the Fat Controller so.  But the Fat Controller reminds him that all jobs on the railway are important, even looking after his Branch Line is an important job. 

Thomas isn’t satisfied, he doesn’t feel important at all.  Even Percy is more interested in going out to do his mail run than listening to him.  But that night in the sheds, he thinks of a way he can get his own back on James...

The following morning, James makes his way to Vicarstown to collect the goods train for Bridlington, but is surprised to find nothing waiting for him in the yard. 


He asks Rosie, who is shunting in the Goods Yard, where the trucks are, and she tells him that Thomas came earlier and took them away.  James is stunned – he can’t believe it!

Meanwhile, Thomas is feeling very pleased with himself!  Steaming over the Vicarstown Rolling Bridge to the Mainland with the goods train bound for Bridlington.

James is furious and hurries to the Steamworks to tell the Fat Controller what Thomas has done.  But rather than being upset, the Fat Controller is pleased, and volunteers James to work on Thomas’s Branch Line in his absence. 


James protests and reminds the Fat Controller that the Mainland run was meant to be his job, but the Fat Controller is adamant – if Thomas is absent, James is working on the Branch Line whether he likes it or not!

On the Mainland, Thomas is in awe of the sights and sounds he’s experiencing as he passes along – the trucks are not as impressed.  He’s so enamoured with everything he’s seeing, he becomes distracted, and the trucks only make things worse as they approach a junction. 

Thomas becomes confused and realises that he doesn’t know where he’s supposed to be going and which route to take.

Eventually, he reaches a canal and has to make an abrupt stop when an old boat is dropped on the track in front of him.  Thomas looks up and sees a big blue crane called Beresford glaring down at him menacingly, demanding to know who he is. 

Thomas asks the crane to remove the boat so he can pass through, but he refuses to let him pass.  Thomas tries to explain he’s taking a goods train to Bridlington, while the trucks delight in the confusion and delay, and the Crane still refuses to lift the boat and let Thomas pass.

Seeing an opportunity to pass, Thomas reverses the train and slips away by running underneath Beresford and on with his journey.

By late in the afternoon, Thomas is still hopelessly lost and running low on coal.  The trucks are losing patience, and Thomas is getting worried.  As they puff through the woods, Thomas catches sight of a yard close-by, where he may be able to get coal and water to continue on his way. 

The yard looks very rundown and uninviting, full of rusty old parts and covered in vegetation.  Out of coal, Thomas grinds to a halt, leaving the trucks fuming.

As he calls out for help, he catches sight of an engine scurrying around, almost out of sight, before being greeted by another, rather unusual looking engine steaming toward him and sounding quite cheerful. 


She beckons the other engine Thomas saw scurrying around to come and welcome their visitor.  She explains it’s her friend, Theo – who’s very shy and worried about his appearance.

Theo shuffles over and asks Thomas if he’s being scrapped.  Thomas is surprised, but his friend, Lexi, explains that this is unlikely – Thomas is a useful engine, he’s pulling trucks.  Thomas tells Theo and Lexi that he needs coal and water to keep going. 


Reluctantly, Theo hauls Thomas to the coal hopper to help him refuel.

Thomas is curious and slightly impressed – he’s never seen engines like Theo and Lexi before. 

They explain that they are Experimental Engines – “Test models” born out of “trial and error”, and that they live in this yard with their friend, Merlin, who’s a Stealth Engine – designed to be difficult to see, and in Merlin’s case, often disappearing!

Stocked up with coal and water again, Thomas sets off again to find Bridlington Goods Yard.  But by now, the sun is setting and he’s still unsure of what route to take to reach there in good time. 


In the distance, he sees a bright glowing light and assumes that is likely where the Goods Yard is.  But as he rounds a bend and the source of the light becomes more clear, he realises it’s something else entirely.  A large building looms large in the distance.

Thomas puffs into the yard in the hopes of asking for directions to reach Bridlington.  He is fascinated by the spectacle in front of him – a massive Steelworks.  He’ s never seen anywhere like this before, and he’s sure James is unlikely to have either!

Soon, he’s greeted by the yard’s two engines – a Diesel called Frankie, and a big red tank engine called Hurricane. 


Thomas asks if they know where Bridlington Goods Yard is, and is encouraged to learn that Hurricane delivers goods there all the time.  But instead of offering him directions or guiding him there, the pair encourage Thomas to shunt his trucks away and stay with them for a while.

Thomas is charmed by their warm welcome, and follows them for a tour of the Steelworks, which they describe as “The Hottest Place In Town!”

After a good night’s rest, Thomas is woken with a loud toot from Frankie and a harsh bump from Hurricane, who proceeds to shunt him out of the shed and into the yard to start work.  As they make their way through the yard, Thomas notices his trucks are missing from the siding – Hurricane explains he took them to Bridlington in the night. 


At first, Thomas is pleased, thinking that now his job is completed and he can go back to Sodor again.  But Hurricane and Frankie have other ideas.  They helped him, now they must help them in return.

Thomas agrees to stay and is put to work in the Steelworks pushing ladle trucks full of molten slag up to the slag heaps to be dumped. 


At first, Thomas doesn’t mind the work – although it's a dirty and heavy job, he enjoys watching the glowing golden goo slithering down the hillside, and Frankie and Hurricane encourage him with their calls and toots of approval.  He thinks it is good fun, and the two engines appear to be very friendly indeed. 

Thomas is enjoying himself so much that he ends up reversing a train of empty trucks into a line of loaded ones, ready to be dumped, which end up tipping and becoming upset over the floor of the Steelworks. 


The two engines warn him of the dangers of what can happen when molten slag is spilled... all of a sudden, the shine seems to be gone from Thomas’s Steelworks experience.

Back on Sodor, the other engines are concerned about Thomas.  At first, James is keen to laugh it off, but eventually, volunteers himself to the Fat Controller for a trip to the Mainland to find Thomas and bring him home again. 


The Fat Controller is grateful for James’ offer, but reminds him he still needs him to work on the Branch Line, and that he cannot spare another engine with Thomas delayed and Henry under repair.


Thomas is finding the Steelworks both hot and exhausting work.  Hurricane is grateful for Thomas’ efforts, but Frankie feels Thomas still owes her and Frankie a favour for delivering his trucks to Bridlington. 


When she and Hurricane leave to make deliveries of steel, she leaves Thomas with a list of jobs she wants him to complete before they return later that day.  Thomas tries to tell her he needs to go home, but Frankie won’t listen, and leaves with Hurricane to deliver the steel.

Trapped in the Steelworks, a miserable Thomas shunts the trucks of molten slag to the slag heap for tipping.  All he can think of is home, and his friends waiting for him there, but with the gates to the Steelworks locked, there’s nothing he can do to leave. 


Then, he spots a gap in the wire fence where an old railway line runs out of the Steelworks.  Assuming it’s a means of escape, he makes a break for it and hurries along the old line. 

Thinking he’s finally done it, Thomas revels in his victory... until he finds the rails have been lifted, the line is overgrown and he’s left in the dirt lying between the sleepers.

When they discover what Thomas has done, Frankie and Hurricane come to put Thomas back on the rails.  Frankie is furious and scolds him severely, whilst Hurricane is slightly more sympathetic, grateful that Thomas hasn’t been badly damaged. 


Thomas reluctantly apologises, despondent that he’s stuck at the Steelworks still, and worse, now upset Frankie with his attempt to leave the site.

After another difficult day on Thomas’s Branch Line, James has had enough too.  As he puffs into the shed, he vents his frustrations to the other engines, and tells them that if Thomas isn’t home by morning – he’ll go to the Mainland and find him himself. 


Percy thinks this is a wonderful idea, and tells James he’ll be a hero if he does.  James likes the sound of this, and sets off at once to find Thomas and become a hero!

That night in the Steelworks, Thomas is judging his moment and looking for an opportunity to break out whilst Frankie and Hurricane sleep.  He nudges the gate with his buffers to try and open it, but to no avail. 


Shortly after, he finds some flatbeds loaded with steel, which he pushes along to use as a battering ram against the gate.  When he makes his first attempt, he disturbs Hurricane.  Frankie dismisses the loud crash as being a roll of thunder – but a flash of lightning reveals the truth – they see Thomas at the gate, trying to break out.

The pair rush out of their shed, ordering him not to break the gates down – but Thomas won’t listen, and with a final great effort, he’s through and racing down the line, whilst Hurricane and Frankie give chase.

Thomas soon finds a siding hidden in the trees where he can hide and rushes into the undergrowth to wait until Frankie and Hurricane have passed.  Thomas is terrified.  Then he hears a voice echoing through the trees, calling to him.  The voice soothes him, telling him not to be frightened – they are hiding too! 


Thomas tries to find the voice talking to him, but can’t see anyone – the voice laughs and tells him he’s invisible, and reveals that he is the Stealth engine that Lexi and Theo had told him of before – Merlin!

Frankie and Hurricane make one last attempt to find Thomas, peering into the undergrowth on their way back, suspecting he’s snuck in there, but quickly dismiss the idea and carry on back to the Steelworks instead.  Merlin reassures Thomas that he’s safe with him – he’s the best hider ever, and no-one will find him so long as he sticks with him! 


Despite everything that’s happened, Thomas feels relaxed enough to go to sleep and rest before planning his journey home to Sodor.

The next morning, James arrives at Bridlington Goods Yard where he begins enquiring about Thomas’s whereabouts.  None of the Diesel shunters have any information, and can’t help him, but some troublesome trucks know and call to James as they’re being shunted around the yard. 


They explain to James that Thomas never brought them to the Goods Yard, an engine called Hurricane did.  James is curious about Hurricane and the Steelworks, and tries to ask the Diesel Shunter about them – only for Hurricane himself, who’s been sitting on the turntable to hear and see an opportunity to make up for the loss of Thomas the night before.

On his way home, Thomas finds himself back at the Experimental Engines’ yard.  Lexi and Theo are very excited to welcome him back, so much so that Theo doesn’t stop to have the water pipe removed from his tank before hurrying over to say hello!

Although Thomas is pleased to see them, he’s feeling very sorry for himself.  He feels bad about losing the trucks, being trapped in the Steelworks and now he doesn’t know the way home again. 


Theo and Lexi sympathise with him – they know how it feels to get it wrong, and feel like really useless engines.  Thomas disagrees – he thinks they’re amazing Experimental Engines, but Lexi and Theo proceed to explain their shortcomings and how they’ve come to accept them.

Merlin, who appears from out of nowhere is a lot more upbeat and positive.  He believes he can turn himself invisible – when in reality, he can’t at all.  Whilst Theo and Lexi sing about not being able to do anything useful, Merlin is keen to emphasise, carbuncle as they may appear, that they can try and be useful, and in spite of everything, they should. 


But whilst Merlin is willing to try and help Thomas, and accompany him as they try to find a route – Theo reminds him they’d only get lost themselves.  He extends the offer to Thomas to stay with them in the Experimental Engines yard, but Thomas declines – he needs to go home.


Thomas tries retracing his path and finds himself running alongside the canal again, where he sees Beresford working. He tries to slip past quietly, but before he can – Beresford grabs him with his hook and hauls him into the air to have a chat. 


Beresford is lonely and looking for a friend to talk to,  but Thomas doesn’t enjoy being dangled in mid-air, and asks Beresford to put him back on the rails again.

When he does, Thomas sees Hurricane coming toward them and begs Beresford to lift him up and hide him out of sight.  Beresford agrees and places Thomas where he can’t be seen. 

As Hurricane and Frankie slip past on the Branch Line, it becomes apparent that they’re not alone – James is with them and being led to the Steelworks.  Thomas is extremely worried now – he knows what Hurricane and Frankie will do. 

Thankfully, help is at hand – Merlin has followed Thomas to make sure he gets home safely, and now the pair will have to mount a rescue attempt to save James and bring him home to Sodor!


At the Steelworks, Frankie and Hurricane try to win James around by giving him the grand tour, but he’s suspicious and begins asking about Thomas. 


Hurricane and Frankie try to deny knowing who Thomas is, but James reminds them that Hurricane delivered Thomas’ trucks for him, and they quickly cave in – telling James that Thomas was there and would be back later that day.  The pair set James to work whilst he ‘waits’ for Thomas to return.

Thomas does indeed return, but this time, he’s brought help – the Experimental Engines!

Thomas devises a plan for the rest of the engines to follow.  Theo and Lexi will create a diversion, pretending to have derailed and needing help – which will lure Hurricane and Frankie out of the Steelworks for long enough so that Thomas can sneak in and bring James out, whilst Merlin stays behind and keeps watch from the siding above the line. 


Poor little Theo is left wishing it was him keeping watch instead!

Theo and Lexi put the plan into action, with Theo running out of control with a load of flatbeds along the Main Line, derailing just outside the Steelworks with Lexi raising the alarm for help. 


Hurricane and Frankie hurry from the Steelworks yard to help, whilst Thomas takes full advantage of the open gates and sneaks in quietly to find James and bring him home again.

Hurricane and Frankie inspect the damage, and are confused by what they find.  Theo is still on the rails, but surrounded by debris that has fallen from his trucks. 


Lexi tries lamely to explain the situation, but Frankie and Hurricane are not convinced, and not best pleased at the trickery.  Then they spot Merlin trying to creep into the Steelworks without being noticed and give chase to him.

Thomas finds James at the slag heap and tries to explain to him about Frankie and Hurricane.  As he does so, Merlin hurries into the yard calling out to warn them that Hurricane and Frankie are on their way back.

The Steelworks Engines burst into the yard and rush toward Thomas and James to prevent them from leaving again.   Hurricane batters into the ladle wagons, causing them to topple, and Frankie narrowly misses James by inches when he races past her!


James finds himself trapped in the Steelworks building, being chased by Frankie and Hurricane, who are trying to trap him inside, using every dirty trick they know.  James tries to hide, but it’s no good – Hurricane and Frankie are relentless and refuse to let him leave.

When Hurricane tries to shunt some trucks across his path, Thomas and Theo push them out of the way and allow James a clear passage through. 


Merlin and Lexi push two flatbeds across the lines that Hurricane and Frankie are chasing James on, stopping them in their tracks and allowing themselves and James to rush out of the Steelworks building and back out into the open.  They think they’ve done it!

But then there’s trouble – the trucks Thomas and Theo were pushing have derailed, tipped over and pushed a lever which has activated the magnet. which has dropped objects into the smelting pot... and the magnet has got a hold of Thomas! 


Theo makes an attempt to turn the magnet off, but it only makes matters worse – it begins to drop Thomas over the pot!  Thankfully, a hook swings in at the last second and knocks Thomas back to the ground, narrowly missing the molten goo.

Thomas hits the ground with a clang, hitting some ladle trucks loaded with melted slag, which tip their contents over the rails.  Thomas is frantic, but Hurricane races forward and knocks him out of harm’s way and running his wheels over the molten slag, which melt his wheels into the rails. 


Frankie can only watch in horror as her friend sits in harm’s way, but then Merlin bursts through from behind and bumps Hurricane to safety.

The engines cheer for Merlin, but poor Hurricane is badly damaged – with melted wheels he  can’t work, meaning Frankie will have to do all the work at the Steelworks herself when the other engines leave. 


This makes her very upset and she begins to cry, realising how overwhelmed she’s going to be without her friend and partner to help her make deliveries and keep up with the workload.

Thomas now feels sorry for Frankie, who only wanted some help and didn’t think anyone would want to.  The other engines on the Mainland are all too busy to work there – hence why she tricked Thomas and James into staying with them. 


Thomas is keen to help, and makes a suggestion.  He knows of three engines who aren’t too busy at all – the Experimental Engines!

Theo and Lexi are not convinced they’d be of any use to the Steelworks Engines, but Thomas reminds them that no engine is useless – they just helped rescue James, and that is quite a feat. 


He encourages them to think positively and think what they can do.  Theo is still unsure, but Merlin reminds them that they can try and be useful, and that’s what matters the most out of everything.

Theo, Lexi and Merlin settle in nicely at the Steelworks and prove themselves to be really useful engines – easing the workload in Hurricane’s absence, and becoming valuable members of the Steelworks team. 

After everything is settled, Thomas and James puff back to Sodor together – wiser engines and none the worse for their adventures.  Both have learned from the experience, Thomas apologises for taking James’ trucks and James apologises for teasing Thomas about being the Fat Controller’s favourite engine, quietly conceding that he’s nobody’s favourite engine. 

Thomas laughs and reminds him that nobody has to be the favourite, the most important thing is being friends!