WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH DANE?
This volume set about adding some fantasy into the series – if talking engines
isn’t fancy enough! – by resolving the long-standing and very real issue of steam locomotives operating under
ERTMS. It was introduced on the Peel Godred during ERSN #2 as there were a wealth of stories about it, and now the time comes
for Richard Hatt – assisted by his father Sir Stephen – to tackle it once and for all. Kirk is miffed at the idea
of the steam fleet visiting, but the others have more pressing concerns- Dane’s low mood. After a long talk with Abbey,
he finally makes a confession.
I love writing for Edward,
but seldom have the chance to do so. He fits in well here as the test engine for the new ERTMS support coach, given his history
with the route. Taking inspiration from what has been said to be the issues surrounding such technology not being fitted to
an actual locomotive, this story came to me as a ‘what could be’. Edward’s trial goes well with the Inspector
receiving route instructions from the Signaller via a handheld tablet, but things go awry when Edward runs round the coach
and loses the signal.
SHEDDING THE LOAD
I’ve always felt
the Peel Godred line was slightly over-populated, and after much discussion with Christopher came to a decision – to
write Dane from the series. Of the fleet he offered the least to the group in terms of character, although he’s had
some good adventures and I’m fond of him. Common sense would say remove the smallest and weakest engine too, which is
what seems to happen here when Maude finds herself confronted with the very real possibility of a life in the VRM.
Abbey is fuming over Dane’s
intention to leave Sodor, but Maude is thrilled as she’ll actually get to stay. Attempts to change his mind fail and
when the Fat Controller announces that he’s been sold, Abbey is mortified. News comes following Edward’s ERTMS
trial too – the officials have rejected the scheme for use on the Other Railway, but it has been agreed for the NWR,
under special operating conditions. Although not strictly accurate, it does allow us to send the occasional steam service
to Peel Godred in the future.
AN ENGINE’S FAREWELL
Dane bows out of the series here, as he sets off for his new life working for a rail tour company
on the mainland. Although this chapter lacks any real railway basis, it is very character driven and given how he and Abbey
were introduced in the novel together, I felt it only right for them to share his final scenes. Maude is the hero of the hour,
persuading Abbey to make her peace before her friend leaves and in a touching final scene the old friends say their farewells.