"I've found the oldest engine on Sodor. His name is... Hiro!"
— Thomas
Hero of the Rails

Greg Tiernan


Nicole Stinn


Sharon Miller


Michael Brandon (US)
Michael Angelis (UK)

Music by

Robert Hartshorne
Ed Welch


HiT Entertainment (US/UK)
Lionsgate (US)
ABC for Kids(AUS)
UHE (Taiwan)
Barnas Favoritter
(Denmark, Sweden,
and Norway
Moefie Klub! (Dutch)
Europa Mini (Germany)
Sony Creative Products
Big Picture (Spain)
HVN (Malaysia)


September 8th, 2009 (US)
October 12th, 2009 (UK)
June 25th, 2010
October 7th, 2010 (Sweden)
October 20th, 2010 (Norway)
October 22nd, 2010
November 2nd, 2010
November 12th,
2010 (Finland)
September 20th, 2011
(The Netherlands)
October 11th, 2011 (Spain)


60 mins

Preceded by

The Great Discovery

Followed by

Misty Island Rescue

Hero of the Rails is a feature-length Thomas and Friends special.


Thomas is taking on water when Spencer rushes past. All of the engines soon have similar experiences and gather at Knapford to figure out what is going on. Halfway through their conversation, Spencer arrives. It turns out that he is staying for the summer to help the Duke and Duchess build their summer house. Needless to say, nobody is pleased with the news, especially when Spencer rushes around with his work, teasing the other engines. That night, all of the engines are tired and cross because they had all been teased by Spencer.

The next morning, at Brendam Docks, Spencer teases Thomas about his size and strength. Thomas has had enough, and the other engines agree with him. Spencer then challenges Thomas to a race to take place at dawn the next day. All of the engines gather in the yard to wish Thomas good luck. Thomas and Spencer are coupled to their loads, and Edward announces the start of the race.

Spencer and Thomas race across the Island. Spencer draws ahead while Thomas struggles up a hill with his load. Then the inevitable happens - Thomas' brakes fail and he thunders down the hill and along the main line until he races onto a rickety, old track. After stopping, Thomas finds an old, abandoned engine named Hiro. Thomas is amazed and asks Hiro what he is doing there. Hiro tells how he once worked on another island far away and how he was known as the "Master of the Railway". He sailed to Sodor on a big ship. Sodor was nothing like his old home, but he was still very happy. However, as the years went on, he began to show his age and Sodor did not have the necessary parts to repair him. He was hidden to avoid scrap, but the parts never came from his island, and he was quietly forgotten. Thomas' immediate reaction is to tell the Fat Controller, but Hiro believes that if the Fat Controller finds out, he will be scrapped. So instead, Thomas promises to not tell the Fat Controller until Hiro can be a Really Useful Engine once again.

After he finds Hiro, Thomas goes to the Sodor Steamworks to have his brakes mended. The Steamworks is a busy, bustling place, with all sorts of work being done. One particular engine lives there, named Victor, a kind and enthusiastic engine. Thomas is soon repaired, and then Spencer puffs into the Sodor Steamworks. Spencer starts to boast, but Thomas simply congratulates him on his win. Victor scolds Spencer for taking up space and sitting around chattering. Spencer leaves, very cross about having been spoken to in such a manner.

Kevin then drives clumsily over to Thomas and Victor. Victor scolds him for rushing around, while Thomas notices some engine parts on a flatbed. Thomas finishes his day's work and then comes by later to take the parts to Hiro. Victor says it is only taking up space anyway, so Thomas rushes off with it.

As he leaves, he hears Spencer behind him and quickly hides in a siding covered with trees. Spencer rumbles past, and does not see Thomas. Thomas drops the parts off at Hiro's hideout and sets for home when he notices that the new summer house is dangerously close to where Hiro is hidden. Thomas knows he promised Hiro that he would look after him, but now he is worried.

That night, all of the engines are at the Shed. Thomas tells them all about his race, and is about to mention Hiro when the Fat Controller arrives. The Fat Controller tells them that there is a lot of hard work in the morning, so they need to be up early, and he tells Thomas not to rush around with heavy trucks for no reason; he wants Really Useful Engines - not Really Broken Engines, which makes Thomas worry more about Hiro.

The next morning, Thomas is taking machines to Farmer McColl, but he wants to help Hiro. Percy shows up, and Thomas tells him everything. He asks Percy to deliver the machines for him while he goes to help Hiro. Percy does so, shunting his mail coaches into a siding in the meantime.

As Thomas heads to Hiro's Hideout, Spencer appears, wondering why Thomas is not working on his Branch Line. Thomas makes up a quick lie about going to the Docks, and rushes off. Thomas waits a while before seeing Hiro again. Once there, his engineer and his assistant put the new part on Hiro. Hiro is very grateful, and Thomas heads off. He finds Percy down the line, having broken down while delivering the goods to Farmer McColl. Spencer teases them, but Thomas takes no notice, and brings Percy to the Steamworks.

At the Steamworks, Thomas and Percy tell Victor all about Hiro. Victor wonders why Thomas does not tell the Fat Controller, but promises to help. He tells them that every day, he will leave some trucks in a siding with parts for Hiro. But that night, the Fat Controller is very cross. Percy's mail coaches have mysteriously vanished, and nobody can find them. Thomas promises that he will find them, but he knows this means he won't be able to help Hiro. So as soon as the Fat Controller leaves, Thomas tells the rest of the engines about Hiro.

The next day, Thomas is hard at work. Spencer is not; he is spying on Thomas to see what he is up to. At the same time, Gordon sneaks along and delivers more parts for Hiro. Thomas is beyond grateful, and rushes to the Steamworks. There, Percy has been fixed, but the Fat Controller is still cross about the missing mail coaches. Victor tells Thomas he will have something for him later, and the two engines rush off.

Thomas takes Percy to see Hiro. Percy is nervous about Hiro at first, but when Hiro complements him, the two become fast friends. Hiro tells them how he misses his friends from home, and also jokingly talks about how he finds Gordon's face to be very unusual. The two later head back home. As they do so, Spencer watches from the siding, determined to find out what they are up to.

The next day, Thomas and Percy go out to search for the missing mail coaches, under the Fat Controller's orders. Meanwhile, Spencer tries to harass Emily for information, but she tells him to go find out for himself. Spencer is so cross that he does not notice Percy and Thomas passing on the bridge behind him, with Edward coming down the other way.

Hiro, now in a very "patchwork" design, is feeling much better. Hiro mentions that James would be coming tomorrow, Percy comments on how he feels about James, sending Hiro laughing for the first time in years.

The next day, Thomas and Percy head to the Quarry to search for the mail coaches. Spencer had secretly followed them there. But before he can do anything, Mavis appears and offers to show him around, but she is really shooing him away from Thomas and Percy while James sneaks away with more parts for Hiro. Spencer ends up under a chute, and his funnel gets filled with slate.

Thomas and Percy are later getting coal and Emily is puffing off to give Hiro more parts. Edward and Henry pass with Spencer in tow, bringing him to the Steamworks. While Spencer is being taken care of, Thomas arrived. Kevin starts dropping things, which causes Spencer to wince and shut his eyes. As he does so, Thomas sneaks away with more parts.

But that night, the Fat Controller is furious. The summer house is nowhere near done, Spencer has been wandering around the Island, the mail coaches still have not been found and Thomas is not working on his branch line. All Hiro needs is one more part before he is completed, so the other engines promise to guard Hiro until Percy delivers the last part.

The next morning, Spencer is up early, searching around to find out what Thomas is up to. Just then, he finds Percy's mail coaches in a siding, and whistles loudly believing that Thomas had being hiding them. James and Toby, meanwhile, are guarding Hiro, and puff off to protect him. Spencer races along with James and Toby whistling behind him, just as Thomas arrives in front of Spencer, blocking his way. The Fat Controller scolds Spencer for playing around with Percy's mail coaches, and orders him to give them back at once. Spencer's infuriated, and vows to make sure Thomas does not get away with it.

Thomas finds Hiro, and tells him that Percy's on his way with the final part. The two are excited, until they suddenly hear Spencer's whistle. Thomas encourages Hiro to puff away from Spencer on his own. As the two make their escape, Spencer appears. Hiro speeds past him, and Spencer is very surprised, having seen Hiro for the first time. As Hiro struggles on, parts begin to fall off of him. He cries out for Thomas to help, who can only beg him to keep going. Eventually, Hiro knows he can't go on, and comes to a stop. Spencer can hardly contain himself. He tells Thomas that the engine is bound to be scrapped. Suddenly, Gordon rushes by with the Express, challenging Spencer to race him. As Spencer speeds away, Thomas notices a siding where he can hide Hiro. He tells him that everything will be alright, but Hiro feels worse than ever.

Gordon and Spencer race to the station. Spencer is exhausted, having been running around all day. Gordon wins the race, and who should step out of the coaches but the Fat Controller and the Duke and Duchess! While they scold Spencer, Thomas arrives, saying he will help Spencer finish the summer house. The Duke and Duchess are pleased, but Spencer's pride is shattered.

Hiro is miserable, knowing that he'll be soon sent for scrap. Thomas begs him not to give up, as he knows how to make everything better. That night, Percy apologises to Thomas for hiding his mail coaches so close to Hiro. However, Thomas tells the other engines that he'll work so hard on the summer house that the Fat Controller will be pleased, hopefully pleased enough to understand Hiro's case and have him restored. Meanwhile, he encourages the other engines to visit him and keep him company. Thomas works very hard, and the summer house is almost finished. While Spencer is talking to the Duke and Duchess, Thomas sneaks off to tell Hiro that soon, everything will be alright. He returns just in time to say goodbye. But as Thomas leaves, Spencer knows where Thomas is going and what he's about to do, and decides to chase him down. The two engines race to the Station. The two soon cross a bridge that goes over marshland, but one part is broken and can't hold Spencer's weight. As he crosses, it snaps beneath him, and he slithers into the mud.

Thomas makes it to Knapford Station, and the Stationmaster calls the Fat Controller, asking for him to come right away. When he arrives with the Duke and Duchess, Thomas tells him all about Hiro. The Fat Controller is not cross, nor does he want Hiro scrapped; in fact, Hiro is a very famous engine, the "Master of the Railway". He tells Thomas to bring Hiro to the Steamworks at once. Spencer, meanwhile, has to stay where he is, as punishment for disobeying the Duke and Duchess of Boxford's orders not to leave the summer house.

Thomas heads over to Hiro to tell him the wonderful news, and the two engines are overjoyed. Thomas and Percy bring him to the Sodor Steamworks the next day. The Fat Controller and Victor promise to have him running like new again. And so, Hiro's restoration begins.

When Hiro is completed, all of the engines are there, and they are amazed at how wonderful Hiro looks. Thomas and Hiro quickly leave to find and help Spencer, who had been stranded where he is for some time. Spencer does not even recognize Hiro when he sees him. He is more than shocked when he finds out that the engine rescuing him is an engine he tried to have scrapped.

Rocky gets hooked up to Spencer, and as he pulls, Hiro pulls Rocky, and Spencer is soon free of the marsh. They then bring him to the Steamworks. After Spencer is repaired, he works with Thomas and Hiro on the summer house. He also apologises for his behavior. The Duke and Duchess absolutely love their nice new summer house.

That night, Hiro confesses to Thomas that despite everything, he has become very homesick. Understanding, Thomas tells the Fat Controller, who promises to take care of everything. Some time later, a big farewell party is held at the docks in Hiro's honor; the Fat Controller had arranged for him to return to his homeland. The engines whistle at him, and he whistles back. Before he leaves, he talks to Thomas and Percy one more time. Thomas hopes to visit Hiro's railway someday, and Percy wonders if Hiro would ever return. Thomas promises that Hiro would always have a home on the Island of Sodor, and with that, Hiro puffs away to his ship.





UK and AUS


Bonus features


  • "Thomas and Spencer" Racing Game
  • "Who's Pulling into the Station" Game
  • "Thomas and Friends Bedroom Makeover"
  • "Go, Go Thomas" Karaoke Music Video


  • Down at the Station - Passengers
  • Engines Quiz
  • "Go, Go Thomas" Karaoke Music Video


  • The Japanese title is "Densetsu no Hiro" (伝説(でんせつ)のヒロ), meaning "The Legendary Hiro".
  • The Norwegian DVD cover states that the special is named "Dagens Helt", which means "Hero of the Day". However, the narrator and the end credits state that the special is named "Skinnenes Helt", which means "Hero of the Rails".
  • In the Japanese version of the film, all of the images from Hiro's flashback of his home are replaced with footage of Hiro talking. However, the black-and-white footage of his arrival on Sodor is kept.
  • This is the first time since Season 9 that Thomas' Branch Line is mentioned.
  • This marked the first time the Duchess speaks.
  • This movie was the first production of Thomas and Friends to be directed by Greg Tiernan.
  • The Sodor Oil Tankers' logo of the word OIL was replaced with a picture of an oil rig with oil coming out of it.
  • The arched bridge on the other side of Gordon's Hill is seen again for the first time since season eight.
  • Spencer has his first two accidents (first getting covered in slate at the quarry, then landing cab first in a marsh).
  • In the scene where Spencer is staring at Emily, Thomas and Percy pass on the bridge with nothing behind them. In the trailers, however, the same scene is shown, but Thomas and Percy are pulling flatbeds full of engine parts. It can be assumed that the trailer showed a deleted version of the scene.
  • In the first trailer, there is a scene where Victor says, "You've come to the right place, my friend". This is not featured in the movie, it is from the Season 13 episode, Creaky Cranky.
  • This is the first time that Hiro's island, Japan, is shown. It is also the first time that a location outside of the UK is shown.
  • This is the first movie not to feature Diesel 10.
  • In the first UK trailer, Thomas has a different voice than his current UK one.
  • Some lines are different in the US and UK version. Some lines that are different are:
    • At one point, Kevin says "me hook" in the UK version, and "the hook" in the US version.
    • Victor says "chatting" in the UK version, and "gossiping" in the US version.
    • In the UK version, Spencer says "Stop that noise," when Kevin is dropping things. This is not heard in the US version.
  • Only the Japanese trailer mentions that Hiro is from Japan. The UK trailer merely mentioned he is "from a far-off place."
  • This was the first DVD to be released in widescreen in the US.
  • Go, Go Thomas was played during the end credits in the US, but not in the UK version.
  • This special takes place between the twelfth and thirteenth seasons.
  • This special aired on PBS for Christmas in 2009 and on Nick Jr on October 27th, 2012 in the UK.
  • The opening sequence is rendered in an art style strikingly similar to that of LNER posters.
  • In the US trailer, Sir Topham Hatt says "We must help Hiro at once" while standing on the gantry of a signalbox. This scene was never shown in the special.
  • The opening theme is played by the Sodor Brass Band in King of the Railway.
  • HiT originally planned to release the film on Blu-Ray, but the release was canceled for unknown reasons.


  • HiT advertised that this was the first time the engines had their own voices, but this is not so, as they were individually voiced in Thomas and the Magic Railroad.
  • The US release says the movie is in full screen, but it is really in wide screen.
  • The earliest Hiro could have been built and shipped to Sodor would be 1936; Thomas and Edward were on Sodor by 1915, making it impossible for Hiro to be the first engine on Sodor. To add to that, Skarloey and Rheneas were already on Sodor by that time on the Skarloey Railway, and Duke was already on Sodor on the Mid Sodor Railway as well.
  • When Thomas, James, and Toby block Spencer, they should have collided with each other.
  • After the narrator says, "Spencer thundered away", part of James' tender is missing.
  • Hiro is surely the same weight as Spencer, probably heavier. How did the Fenland Track not collapse under his weight then?
  • Spencer defies the laws of physics when he slows down on the hill to make fun of Percy and Thomas. He should have stayed at his current speed until he reached the top.
  • It was impossible for Toby to miss his green light.
  • Thomas and Percy were missing their teeth while they were talking at the shunting yards.
  • When Thomas is going down the old track towards Hiro, he has a different whistle. This is assumed to be an experiment with the "Doppler" effect.
  • When the Steamworks first appears, Mavis is seen outside, but seconds later, she is inside the Steamworks facing the opposite direction.
  • In real life, Thomas would have derailed when he banged into the trucks.
  • How did Thomas move further into the woods and stop when his brakes were broken?
  • It would not have been safe for Thomas to go all the way to the Steaworks from Hiro's Hideout with bad brakes.
  • When Diesel goes into Sodor Steamworks, he is front first. When he is leaving, he somehow turns around, with no turntable in sight.
  • It is very unlikely that no crew members of any of the engines told Sir Topham Hatt about Hiro.
  • Thomas and the other engines should know very well that the Fat Controller would not scrap any steam engine.
  • Near the end of the film during Thomas and Spencer's final race, the points were not switched, but Spencer is still able to change lines.
  • Spencer defies the rail-traffic laws when he stops in the middle of the mainline, backs up, and switches tracks.
  • How did Sir Topham Hatt, the Duke, and Duchess not see Hiro, when they were in Gordon's train?
  • After Gordon and Spencer's race, Thomas, who had been once behind Gordon and facing the same way, somehow appears in front of him at the station.
  • The narrator states that Hiro cared that Henry needed "Special Coal", despite the fact that Henry has not needed "Special Coal" since his rebuild in 1951. This error was also made previously, in It's Good to be Gordon.
  • Hiro's crew should have known better than to run him while he was in such poor condition, especially when he was missing a part as vital as the water injector. Also, the water injector should have already been fitted to Hiro when his boiler was fitted; and even if the water injector was fitted, it would not work as Hiro's tender was unrestored.
  • The narrator talks about Hiro's engine breaking down, but Hiro is a steam engine, and thus is the engine.
  • Spencer's crew would have been hurt in the accident. Also, rescuing the crew would have been the main priority before rescuing Spencer.
  • When Edward speaks to Hiro in his second hiding spot, Hiro's green smoke deflector is on and the green lid for his piston cylinder is also back, but Hiro lost them in the chase with Spencer.
  • It was very unsafe for Rocky to pull Spencer along a parallel track. Spencer should have been placed on a flatbed.
  • How were many of Hiro's parts put on? Surely they would be much too heavy for workmen to lift, and there would not be enough room for a crane in the hideout to place them on.
  • In real life, bushes would not slow Thomas down.
  • Hiro's cylinder blocks should have been on his main body when he was reunited with his wheels.
  • How does Emily get to Knapford station when she was probably off the rails after Spencer shot past her?
  • Hiro should not be in steam when he was going to board a ship to go home to Japan. Hiro should have arrived at Brendam Docks with another engine taking him to the ship.
  • Percy should have known that if he hid his mail trucks, the mail would be severely delayed.
  • Percy should have been able to pull Thomas' load as well as his own, considering he did just that without difficulty in Thomas and the Golden Eagle; so it seems illogical he would pop a valve by pulling just one truck.
  • Thomas leaves his load on the main line when he should have placed it into a siding out of the way.
  • No explanation is given to how Thomas got to the Steamworks after discovering Hiro.
  • Gordon and Spencer somehow switch tracks during their race to Maithwaite.
  • Thomas leaves his load with Percy at the Steamworks when he should have taken it to Farmer McColl before taking Percy to be repaired.
  • When Thomas visits Hiro after he leaves the summerhouse, Hiro has his dome, but it fell off when he was chased by Spencer.
  • It would have taken longer than a few days to complete Hiro's overhaul.
  • For some unknown reason, Lady Hatt is not seen with the Fat Controller and the Duke and the Duchess of Boxford when they are having their evening meal at the Hatt's home.
  • In the UK version, the Duke of Boxford and Spencer call Sir Topham Hatt "the Fat Controller" when he is with them at Maithwaite.
  • Brakevans should have been added to Thomas, Percy, Emily, Spencer, James, Edward, and Gordon's trains.
  • From the chase with Spencer until Hiro's overhaul at the Steamworks, the golden stripes on Hiro's boiler disappear.
  • The brake coach is in the front of the express throughout the film.
  • When Thomas explains to the Fat Controller that Hiro wants to go home, the clock at Knapford reads 4:20. It is very unlikely the Fat Controller would be awake at that time of the morning.
  • When Thomas crashes into the potato trucks, a signal is in the middle of the track next to Thomas'.
  • When Hiro and Rocky rescue Spencer, his tender is still attached. But, considering the angle that Spencer fell into the mud, his tender coupling would have been damaged.
  • When Hiro pulls Spencer to the Steamworks, Hiro's number stops moving whilst Hiro keeps moving, so it appears to be sliding off.
  • In several scenes, some of the characters are not rendered properly as they overlap the trucks. This occurs with:
    • Diesel and two trucks, when he oils over the bridge as the narrator says, "Spencer watched Thomas' every wheel turn and piston pump".
    • Spencer's tender and the mail trucks, during the chase when the narrator says, "Spencer had never seen engine as old and strange as Hiro before".
  • In several scenes, engines' side rods do not move as they do. This occurs with:
    • Hiro, during his black-and-white flashback.
    • Victor, when he is first introduced.
    • Rosie, as she enters the Steamworks.