Bert and the Poor Railway
Far away, in Russia, there is a railway known as the Fire Power Railway. The FPR is located in the hills of Abaza. The railway wasn’t doing too well. The tracks were rusty, and so were the coaches. The engines were in bad condition too.
A diesel engine named Quat was pulling an evening train, when his engine broke down. “Not again,” he sighed. “I’ve just returned from the Works with new brakes.” “We must tell the passengers,” said his driver.
A bus was brought to take the passengers away, but they were all cross. Another diesel engine named Clarence took Quat to the Works.
The FPR Controller was very concerned. He wanted to keep his railway in sevice. “How can I restore the railway to its glory?” he wondered. Then he realized something. “Having another engine here would be just the thing. But which one of my friends runs a miniature railway?” He opened a phone book, and looked trhough all the names, until… “Ah, yes! Fergus might be able to spare an engine of his!” He pulled over the phone and began to call Mr. Duncan.
Mr. Duncan, controller of the Small Railway on Sodor, was in the middle of a railway board meeting. A butler came into the room. “Pardon the interruption, but Sir Duncan, someone wants you on the telephone.” “Please continue our discussion on our progess this month. Just inform me when I return.” He followed the butler to the phone. “Hello?” “Mr. Duncan!” “Oh, yes! How are things?” “Not good. I was wondering if you could spare one of your engines to come and help me.” “Of course I can. I’ll send someone I know you can trust.”
The next morning the engines were being prepared for work. “Where’s your driver Bert?” asked Frank. “I don’t know.” “Maybe the Small Controller has taken you out of service!” teased Rex. “No he hasn’t,” grumbled Bert. “Now now old timer-“ began Mike. “-Old timer?” “Shh!” hissed Jock. “He’s coming.” The engines all looked at the Small Controller. “Bert, I’m sending you to Russia. I have a friend who runs a miniature railway, called the Fire Power. They need help. Frank will shunt you to the junction, where Ryan will take you to Arlesburgh Harbor.” “Thank you Sir,” beamed Bert. The others all looked at him, jealous they weren’t going.
A few days later, Bert was unloaded at the harbor in Moscow. Then he was taken by lorry to the town of Abaza, where he was unloaded at a railway yard he didn’t know. A man came up to him, looking excited. “Hello. I’m the FPR Controller. Nice to meet you Bert!” “Thanks Sir.” “Clarence will shunt you to be fueled up.” Clarence arrived and took Bert to the yard. “What an interesting place,” he chortled as he fueled up with water and coal. “Yes it is,” said Clarence grimly. He rolled away to do other work.
Bert went to the station. The passengers were impressed to see him. “What a lovely engine,” they said. “Better looking than the others.” “I’m just as good as the others,” said Bert, as his coaches were shunted behind him. “Thank you for bringing my coaches,” called Bert. But the tank engine just blew steam and angrily puffed away.
Throughout the entire day, Bert met other engines. He was excited to see them. He would shout “Hello!” but they would just wheesh steam at him, or ignore him.
That evening he went to the sheds. “Hello everyone!” he said, feeling a little uncertain if he was welcomed, “may I join you?” “You can stop acting kind,” snapped a tender engine. “We know you’re just pretending.” “But I’m truly being nice!” protested Bert. “Really?” snorted a diesel. “Fine! I’ll sleep in the yard with the coaches! At least they’ll speak to me!” He puffed crossly away. Clarence left the sheds and followed Bert to the yard. “Bert? May I join you?” “Sure. At least you respect me. Why don’t the others do the same?” “They aren’t used to shiny engines being nice,” said Clarence kindly. Then Bert realized something. “So they think that since I come from a wealthy railway, I’m not nice?” “Sadly yes. I don’t agree with them. But I understand why they’d think this way. Before you arrived, other shiny engines came. They bullied us.”
“The bullying got worse as the railway went into bad condition. All the engines are pleased to see a foreigner, but they fear being hurt again.” “But why has your railway gone into bad condition?” asked Bert. “It’s the Controller. He doesn’t listen to the public. They request for new timetables, but he doesn’t listen.” “Do you do other goods or services?” “Nope. We only do passengers.” Bert pondered this for a long time. “I think…I think I know how to help.” Clarence was curious, but he decided not to ask.
When Bert returned to the Small Railway Mr. Duncan was waiting for him at Arlesburgh Junctino. “Welcome home Bert!” “Thanks Sir. But I have news to share with you.” He explained everything, along with his plan. “I’ll see what I can do,” said the Small Controller.
The Small Controller helped the FPR Controller make a new timetable. He also sent Bert and Jock to the FPR to help restore the railway. The FPR engines were still mean at first, but when they found out about Bert’s plan, they started to treat him and Jock kindly.
Finally the work was completed, and the Small Railway engines went back to Sodor. The FPR is now a beautiful railway, and many passengers come to visit the railway year-round.