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"Time's time! Why should I keep my passengers waiting, while Henry and James dawdle about all day on viaducts?"
— Thomas

Better Late Than Never is the fifteenth episode of the second season. It aired in the US on the Shining Time Station episodes, Promises, Promises and Mr. Conductor's Big Sleepwalk.


Work has become hard for the engines on the Island of Sodor. The viaduct on the main line is being repaired, with the arches being strengthened. As the Fat Controller is unwilling to close the railway during repairs, the work is taking a long time and all engines crossing the viaduct must cross slowly and carefully, lest they risk it collapsing under them. Because of this, the engines are often late making it to the junction where Thomas waits for his passengers.

However, the way Thomas would complain, it would seem that the engines were just going slowly to make him late. One morning, Thomas is angry with Henry for his lateness. Henry defends himself, telling Thomas that he cannot make it any quicker during the repair work, but Thomas is not interested and leaves to try and make up some of the time.

Normally when Thomas stops at the station, Bertie arrives soon after and his passengers go straight from him to Thomas. However, when the larger engines are late for Thomas, then Thomas is late for Bertie's passengers and now they often find themselves waiting on the platform, causing Bertie to become angry with Thomas. When Thomas arrives that day, Bertie tells Thomas that he thought he could go faster than that. He then remarks they should have another race, thinking he could now beat him causing an exhausted Thomas to become angry and place the blame on the main line engines "dithering" on the viaduct.

Another day, James arrives later than ever. He apologises, a hold-up at the station combined with the delay at the viaduct causing his lateness. Thomas, as usual, is not interested in excuses and leaves grumbling. He attempts to get to the station as fast as he can, but does not make up very much time. However things change when Thomas spots Bertie at the level crossing, where his radiator is steaming. Thomas tells Bertie he is late, but Bertie tells Thomas that he feels dreadful and his driver cannot repair him. It is lucky that Thomas was running so late, as he can now pick up the passengers here instead of having them be stranded. Thomas does not feel angry anymore and is sorry for Bertie. Promising to send help at the next station, Thomas leaves and takes the passengers home.


There are times when being late isn't such a bad thing afterall.

When Bertie is repaired, he and Thomas make up their argument and both agree that sometimes being late can actually be quite useful.




  • This episode is based on the story of the same name from The Railway Series book, More About Thomas the Tank Engine.
  • Stock footage from Thomas' Train, Thomas and the Guard, Thomas and Bertie and a deleted scene from Thomas and Trevor are used.
  • In the US, this episode aired before Saved from Scrap; this means that the audience would not know who Trevor is.
  • For the remainder of the second season, the viaduct is always seen undergoing repairs.
  • Christopher Awdry's credit for the episode was originally shown when the episode was compiled with Break Van, later versions throughout the 1990s (most notably on VHS and Cartoon Network) used the end credits from Duck Takes Charge. When a future release came out, Christopher was given credit for the episode.
  • When the episode aired in the Shining Time Station episode, Mr. Conductor's Big Sleepwalk, the ending was cut short when Bertie left.


  • Edward has Thomas' whistle sound at the very beginning.
  • Thomas has to wait for James at the junction; James is supposedly bringing Thomas' passengers, but he is pulling vans.
  • In many scenes, Clarabel is facing the wrong way.
  • Bertie's face is loose when he says "Late again!" and is clearly being held in posistion by blu-tak.
  • Some sources mislabel this episode as "Better Late than Ever".
  • Thomas' eyes are wonky when he says "Time's time!".

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