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Branch Lines is the sixth episode of Season 1.

Plot

The episode begins with Edward mentioning that timing is everything, which is especially true on a railway, where a company must demonstrate reliability by adhering to its schedules to be successful. This was problematic on Sodor, since two separate companies worked on the Island. The Main Line, which ran from Alresburgh to Vicarstown was common ground and was for both the LNER and the LMS to share. Since the two branch lines were too small to be shared, the Nor'easters worked the Ffarquhar Branch and the Midis worked at Brendam. Edward also mentions that Eric's arrival was a great boost to the LNER's efforts on the Ffarquhar Branch, especially when servicing the quarry.

One day, Thomas was on his usual afternoon train to Ffarquhar, which included a stop at Elsbridge. The tyrannical stationmaster there, Alexander Jeffries, had run the station as if it was his own private kingdom and gave any engine who was ever tardy a vicious tongue-lashing, even if they were only a few seconds late. Thomas stops at Elsbridge where James is. Thomas is in a very good mood because he's heard Mrs. Kyndley's out of the hospital and she'll be waiting at Ffarquhar with a surprise for Thomas when he arrives. Jeffries tells the two they can chat in their own time. James leaves and Jeffries argues with Thomas when his guard blows his whistle. Thomas couldn't stay cross for long as he continued toward Ffarquhar. Edward describes that the line has special significance to Thomas because, him, along with Toby and Edward had helped build it during their Elsbridge and Knapford days. Edward then describes that Mrs. Kyndley's husband and her spent most of her time holding charity events which often used the Nor'easters to provide their guests with rides and day trips.

Once Thomas arrives at Ffarquhar, he meets Mrs. Kyndley, and his surprise, is her daughter, Jenny. Thomas mentions how he remembers her through the construction of the Ffarquhar Branch. Jenny had completed her geology degree and went to Greece, where she met her fiancée. Mrs. Kyndley tells Thomas that Jenny is getting married, and the big day is on September 15th, 1936. This afternoon, Mrs. Kyndley has a meeting with Mr. Star, so she climbs aboard Thomas's coaches.

Throughout the late spring and summer of 1936, business on the Ffarquhar Branch remained very brisk as all the clients were doing particularly well, especially the quarry and the Toyreck sawmill, thanks to Eric. Edward points out that Eric wasn't really all that smart, taking trains that weren't his and sometimes outright forgetting the ones he was meant to take. An early demonstration of his "sub-par intellect" was when one day, he helped Percy with shunting at Knapford and somehow managed to mix up Edward's goods train with Gordon's express. Edward then mentions that Elsbridge Harbour had been constructed to a fully functional port in eighteen months which was capable of servicing the local businesses. The Board of Directors decided to expand their harbour and gave Mr. Star the contract. Mr. Star had put Eric in charge of the operation, who always made sure its construction remained on schedule.

One day, Eric arrives at the Quarry where Clive explains to him the problem: the points leading to the siding where the brake vans are stored are on the fritz. Eric decides he'll manage because he used to take trains without them without any problems. Eric backs down onto his train, Clive asks him if he's sure about it and asks when he used to take trains without brake vans. Eric replies it was on the Mainland, because brake vans were scarce, they often had to take trains without them. Eric departs, making good time toward the harbour. When Eric arrives at Elsbridge, he's switched off the Mainline and into the yard where Edward is.

Edward asks Eric if he can help him with some shunting, since Thomas was meant to do so, but he was delayed. Edward mentions he would've been finished if Jeffries hadn't kept ordering him to pick up the pace. Eric shunts his trucks out of the way, on the Mainline and goes back to Edward. Edward realises where Eric left his trucks, and tells him Henry is due to pass through with a fast goods train and orders him to go get his trucks. Eric goes back to get his trucks and quickly gets them out of the way before Henry can collide with them. Henry applies his brakes and stops right next to Edward. Eric then pulls up and can't explain himself, which makes Edward struggle whether he should tell Mr. Star or not. Henry assures Edward that it isn't necessary and advises Eric to be more careful. Henry tries to move on when he realises he had gotten flat tires, from stopping so suddenly and at such a high speed. Mickey had to take Henry to the works and he brought Mr. Star with him. All of Henry's drive wheels had to be replaced. Mr. Star speaks severely to Eric and tells him he'll be acting as Henry's replacement until he's repaired. He puts Edward in charge of the harbour expansion and tells Eric he's been put on indefinite probation, and will be sent packing if he is to foul up again, regardless of how minuscule it is.

Edward then explains the Brendam Branch Line, which was the former Mainline for the Wellsworth & Suddery Railway, starts at Wellsworth and ends at the seaside city of Brendam, which has the largest port on Sodor. The Midis had ample work from passengers and goods contracts to their doorstep. Naturally, the tracks and bridges were upgraded to maintain the heavy traffic on the branch line. While the Midis had ample work, they had to contend to Bulstrode, an old, disagreeable barge. One day Douglas has an argument with Bulstrode which puts him in a foul mood for the rest of the day. Today, Mr. Zorro had informed his crew that a large shipment of China Clay from the nearby pits needed to be filled. All day long, the Midis worked hard to fill the order. All throughout the day, Douglas kept complaining about Bulstrode. Drollan mentions Bulstrode could use a relaxing time at the beach. Presently, Diesel accidentally shunts the China Clay trucks into the sea. Drollan, thinking the current will take the trucks out to sea, goes to alert the Coast Guard. Several hours later, the recovery operation was complete. While the trucks were saved, the clay was lost. Mr. Zorro punished Diesel by putting him on scrap runs for the next fortnight. The following day, Douglas was delivering a shipment of China Clay to Arlesburgh. While he hadn't seen Bulstrode, he had to suffer an annoying inconvenience.

Characters

Trivia

  • This is the first episode that wasn't remade after a previous version was already uploaded to YouTube.
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