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"Dear Thomas and all the engines, please, can I meet you? My friends say they would like to meet you, too. You can come to my house for tea, but my mummy says there aren't any railway tracks to my house. Can you come to the station instead? Thank you very much!"
— The letter

Thomas and the Special Letter is the twenty-second episode of the fourth season. It aired in the US on the Shining Time Station episode One of the Family in 1995.


After taking his last train of the day, Thomas meets up with Percy and Toby and it turns out that all three engines have been asked to report to the big station after the day's work is done. Thomas thinks something is happening and is surprised to see BoCo, Mavis, Donald, Douglas, Bill, Ben and Oliver all travel past, also heading for the station; Thomas, Percy and Toby are now very curious and follow the others.

Arriving at Tidmouth Sheds, the Fat Controller silences the excited engines whistling excitedly to tell them he recently received a letter from a five-year old girl who lives in the big city. She writes that she and her friends would like to meet Thomas and his friends and invites him to their local station. The Fat Controller tells the engines that a lot of children would like to meet them so they will give them the chance and the first eight are going to travel to the big city. The engines blow their whistles excitedly again, prompting the Fat Controller to command them to be quiet again. While the eight engines are gone, the rest will all be running the line.

Oliver is due to take charge of Thomas' branch line and Thomas shows him what to do using some coaches (as Annie and Clarabel will be going with Thomas to the city). Thomas is getting more and more excited and boasts about his race with Bertie, however, he then makes a huge mistake when he tries to show off; he crashes through some buffers, rolls down a hill and smashes through a brick wall. No one is hurt, but Thomas' front is damaged from the impact.

The Fat Controller is called and sends some workmen to repair Thomas but warns that if they do not get finished in time they will have to go to the city without him. Thomas is very sad, worried that he is going to miss out on the trip.

The next day at 8:00 AM, the engines are ready to leave (with Percy and Toby traveling on flatbeds) but there is no sign of Thomas yet. The Fat Controller agrees to wait one more minute for Thomas before they must leave. Thankfully Thomas arrives just in time and the fleet of engines leave for their trip to the city.

Arriving at the city safely, the engines are lined up in a wonderful shed where many children come to meet them. Thomas tells Percy how glad he is that the little girl wrote to the Fat Controller, noting "isn't it wonderful what happiness a letter can bring?"




  • Going by production order, this is the twenty-first episode of the fourth season.
  • At the sheds, the audio of the engines whistling was reused from the second season episode, The Deputation.
  • This episode is based on the story The Fat Controller's Engines from The Railway Series book, The Eight Famous Engines.
  • Behind the scenes footage for this episode was filmed for the 1995 documentary The Thomas the Tank Engine Man and it was revealed by David Mitton on the set that the engines were still heading to London like in the book that this episode originated from.
  • This is the 100th episode of Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends.
  • A reference to the first season episode, Thomas and Bertie is made in this episode.
  • The picture of Duke from the fourth season episode, Bulldog can be seen in Sir Topham Hatt's office.
  • According to a post on Britt Allcroft's Facebook page, this episode partially inspired Thomas and the Magic Railroad.
  • The Mainland is referred to as "The Big City" in this episode; this also marks the first, but brief appearance of the Mainland in the television series.
  • This is the first episode where engines numbered 1-11 have appeared all together in an episode and the only episode where they all speak in the same episode.
  • Despite their appearances in the episode, Edward and Duck do not appear in the nameboard sequence at the end of the episode in the Japanese dub.


  • Douglas was actually the one who spoke when the narrator said that Donald spoke.
  • In Toby's third close-up, his face is loose.
  • Annie is facing backwards during the close-up of Thomas' driver.
  • When Thomas and Percy first leave Elsbridge, Toby is not in his siding, but Henrietta is still there and his bell can be heard. In addition, they went the opposite way when they went to the station, rather than follow the other engines.
  • As Henry leaves Elsbridge, one of his bogie wheels is loose.
  • In the Big City shed, Percy's cab roof is lifted slightly.
  • In the scene of the engines waiting for Thomas, James has a different whistle sound.
  • When Thomas went through the buffers, rails were seen on the ground, showing how he moved straight.
  • Donald, Duck and Gordon have the same whistle sound and Douglas has a different whistle sound.
  • During the panning shot of the engines when Sir Topham Hatt reads the little girl's letter, James and Gordon's eyes are wonky.
  • When Thomas starts talking to Oliver, some of the steam from his funnel disappears, indicating a film cut.
  • When James leaves Elsbridge, his eyes are wonky.
  • In the close-up of Thomas at Tidmouth Sheds, Percy's right lamp iron is bent.
  • In the shot of Thomas going down the embankment, he is seen going through the fence again, only it is already broken in that shot.
  • BoCo and Mavis have Daisy's horn sound from the previous episode and the Diesel's horn sound.
  • Henry's lamp is not on the lamp iron.
  • The overhead shot of the engines in the Big City shed appears to be mirrored, as indicated by the fact that Thomas, Henry and Duck's lamps are on the wrong sides of their fronts and that Toby's bell is on the wrong side of his roof.
  • All of the engines' eyes are wonky in the horizontal scan of Tidmouth Sheds.
  • When Douglas passes through Elsbridge, he is missing his brake-pipe.


  • Take Along (discontinued)

In Other Languages

Language Name Meaning
German Ein ganz spezieller Brief A Very Special Letter
Norwegian Thomas og det spesielle brevet Thomas and the Special Letter
Spanish Thomas y una carta muy especial Thomas and a Very Special Letter
Japanese トーマスととくべつなてがみ Thomas and the Special Letter
Finnish Tuomas ja tärkeä kirje Thomas and an Important Letter
Dutch Thomas en de speciale brief Thomas and the Special Letter
Danish Thomas og Brevet Thomas and the Letter
Hungarian Thomas és a Különleges Levél Thomas and the Special Letter
Italian Una Lettera Speciale A Special Letter
Welsh Tomos a'r Llythyr Arbennig Thomas and the Special Letter
Slovenian Tomaž in prav posebno pismo Thomas and a Special Letter
Russian Томас и специальное письмо Thomas and a Special Letter
Ukrainian Томас i особливий лист Thomas and a Special Letter
Chinese 托马斯和特别来信 Thomas and the Special Letter
Greek Ένα ξεχωριστό γράμμα A Special Letter
Romanian Thomas şi Scrisoarea Specială Thomas and the Special Letter
Slovak Thomas a Špeciálny List Thomas and Special Letters
Czech Tomáš a Zvláštní Dopis Thomas and Special Letter
Swedish Thomas och Särskild Skrivelse Thomas and the Special Letter
Polish Tomek i Specjalny List Thomas and the Special Letter
Thai โธมัสเกือบพาดโอกาสสำคัญ Thomas is Almost Missed an Important Opportunity