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"You know Toby, I'm an important engine, everyone knows it. I'm as regular as clockwork! Never late, always on time!"
"Says you!
— James boasting to Toby

Time for Trouble is the third episode of the third season. It first aired on Shining Time Station in the episode Jingle, Jingle, Jingle in 1991.


It is a very busy time for the Fat Controller's engines, as the Island of Sodor has a lot of visitors. The Fat Controller schedules more trains to cope with the demand, with Gordon in particular having to make more journeys than usual. Gordon is eager to ensure all his trains are on time and works harder than ever to make sure this happens. Things are so hectic that at times Gordon has no sooner dropped off one load of passengers that he has to take another. Gordon does not mind however and does his increased workload without fuss. The Fat Controller however soon decides that Gordon deserves a rest and James will take his trains and the express instead. James could not be happier at the chance to show off and be as respected as Gordon.

One day in the yard, James boasts to Toby about how important he is and how he is never late. The Fat Controller arrives and tells Toby it is time for him to go to the Works to have his worn parts replaced. Toby is upset at having to go for repairs and asks if Henrietta can go with him, however the Fat Controller refuses as he needs all coaches to be available. Percy promises to look after Henrietta while Toby is gone.

Toby puffs away to the Works on the main line, however as his water tank is smaller than most of the other engines he soon feels thirsty. He is glad when he starts to approach Lower Tidmouth and stops for a drink as he does not think it will be a problem and neither does his driver. However, the signalman has never met Toby and he orders him to continue on and clear the line for James and the express. Toby sadly leaves and struggles to the next station to stock up, but runs out of water and loses steam and is left stranded on the main line.

Toby's fireman knows they need to warn James about the blockage on the line and luckily Percy comes by with Henrietta who hates leaving Toby stranded. Percy assures her she is helping Toby by carrying the fireman which cheers her up. The fireman reaches the station in time and tells James' crew what has happened. The signalman apologises for causing the trouble while James is angry, knowing this will make him late and fumes when his driver tells him he will need to push Toby as well as pull the express.

Finding Toby, James gives the tram a bump before starting to push him along. James works harder than ever, having to push and pull a train at the same time and by the time he reaches the station he is exhausted. Some children on the platform see this and joke that as the express is late and James is tired it must mean that he could not pull it alone and needed Toby's help. Toby assures James the children are only teasing, but James does not see the funny side at all.




  • This episode is based on the story Double Header from The Railway Series book, The Eight Famous Engines.
  • At the end of the UK version, James exclaims "Ha! Ha!", but in the US version he says "Huh!".
  • In some UK releases, the narration is out of sync.
  • In a rare picture, when Percy comes to Toby's rescue, he is on the line next to Toby.


  • In the first shot, Edward's eyes are wonky and in the following shot, Gordon's eyes are wonky, too.
  • Toby starts to move before James does, even though he has no steam.
  • James takes Toby to Knapford, not the Works.
  • No explanation is given as to how Percy had the time to reach Vicarstown and approach Toby from the other direction in the time it took Toby to get to the point between Maron and Cronk.
  • Percy's whistle is now one tone lower. Throughout the rest of the season his whistle sound changes several times.
  • Why would Thomas need a brakevan if he had Clarabel?


In Other Languages

Language Name Meaning
German Zeit für Ärger Time for Trouble
Japanese ほめられなかったジェームス James was Not Praised
Norwegian Nå blir det trøbbel Now There'll Be Trouble
Danish Nu bli'r der ballade Now There Will Be Trouble
Spanish James en Problemas/Tiempo para Problemas James in Trouble/Time for Problems
Welsh Helynt a Hanner A Bother and a Half
Italian Aria di guai Air of Trouble
Dutch Moeilijkheden Difficulties
Finnish Veturi Vaikeuksissa Train Difficulties
Czech Cas na potize Time for Trouble
Slovenian Nesreča Nikoli Ne počiva Accidents never rest
Polish Kłopoty Troubles
Hungarian Toby bajba kerül Toby Gets Into Trouble
Turkish Bela Zamanı Time of Trouble
Chinese 倒霉的时间 Unlucky Time
Russian Когда приходит беда When Disaster Strikes
Ukrainian Пора клопотів It's Trouble Time
Romanian Timpul Pentru Probleme Time for Problems
Slovak Čas na problémy Time for Trouble
Swedish Nå blir det bråk Now There Will be Trouble
Brazilian Portuguese Tempo para Problema Time for Problems
Thai เจมส์ไม่เต็มใจช่วยเพื่อน James Reluctantly Helps a Friend

Home Media Releases


DVD Packs


DVD Boxsets


  • Time for Trouble and other stories
  • The Biggest Ever Christmas Collection
  • The Complete Series 3

DVD Boxsets

  • Classic Collection
  • Series Three and Series Four Double Pack