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This article is about the episode. You may be looking for the magazine story.
"If you can't behave, I will take away your red coat and have you painted blue!"
— The Fat Controller
James and the Coaches/
James Learns a Lesson

David Mitton


David Mitton
Robert D. Cardona


Reverend W. Awdry
Britt Allcroft
David Mitton


Ringo Starr (UK/US)
George Carlin (US)

Air date

October 30th,
1984 (UK)
April 15th,
1987 (AUS)
February 19th,
1989 (US)
May 22nd,
1990 (JAP)
September 3rd,
1993 (George
Carlin US
March 2nd,
1998 (GER)
January 4th,
2008 (HUN)

Previous episode

Thomas and the
Breakdown Train
Thomas Saves
the Day

Next episode

Troublesome Trucks/
Foolish Freight Cars

James and the Coaches, retitled James Learns a Lesson in American releases, is the eighth episode of the first season. It aired in the US on the Shining Time Station episodes, Pitching in and Helping Out in 1989 and The Mayor runs for Re-Election in 1993.


James is settling into his new life nicely. The Fat Controller tells James that he is a mixed-traffic engine, so he can take coaches or trucks easily but must learn from his mistakes. James, who had a nasty accident with trucks on his first day, knows exactly what he means by that.

James' first job of the day is to double-head a train of coaches with Edward, who warns him that the coaches do not like being bumped. People have arrived on the platform to admire James, who quickly gets full of himself and lets off steam without warning causing a shower of water to fall on the Fat Controller's brand new top hat. It is time for the train to leave and James tries to get out as fast as he can which angers Edward and the coaches. This causes trouble at the first station, when James causes two of the coaches to run beyond the platform forcing the train to reverse to let the passengers out. However, it seems that no one knows what happened with the Fat Controller, much to James' relief.

Next James and Edward stop at the station on Thomas' new branch line, where the tank engine greets James before leaving. The train then passes the field where James had crashed. Finally, the journey ends and after unloading the passengers James and Edward head for home, with James still wondering what the Fat Controller will have to say about his top hat.

The next morning, the Fat Controller visits James in the shed and severely warns him that if anything else goes wrong, then James will be punished by being painted blue. James does not want that to happen.

However, rather than calming down, James gets very angry and later bumps his coaches while bringing them to the station, grumbling that he should not have to fetch them himself. To make matters worse, none of the passengers dare go near James, which makes him even crosser.

James pulls the coaches very roughly while trying to go as fast as Gordon. Eventually, the coaches force James to stop. His driver explains that James' rough treatment has caused a leak in the coaches' pipes. The crew inspects the damage and the guard's only recommendation is to plug the leak with newspaper and a leather bootlace. However, none of the crew have a leather bootlace on them. They ask the passengers and the guard finds a man with a leather bootlace, who initially refuses to give it up. The guard explains that without the bootlace, the train cannot continue. The other passengers get very angry, both at the man and at the railway. Under pressure, the man finally hands over the bootlace and the damage is temporarily repaired allowing James to finish the journey.

James proceeds on his way with the coaches, knowing that he is going to be in a lot of trouble with the Fat Controller and decides never to bump coaches again.




  • This episode is based on the stories James and the Top-Hat and James and the Bootlace from The Railway Series book, James the Red Engine.
  • A flashback of Thomas and the Breakdown Train is used.
  • A train passing Edward and James, when they are in front of the Fat Controller, has a truck with "NE" painted on the side.
  • The two coaches at the end of James' train are Annie and Clarabel (in that order).
  • George Carlin's US narration was not released on home video until 2002, when it was included on Best of James.
  • After the narrator says "James was still wondering what The Fat Controller/ Sir Topham Hatt would have to say about his top hat/ new hat," James uses his whistle sound, which is actually the same audio of James whistling in Thomas and the Trucks, when Sir Topham Hatt asks Thomas what he is doing, however, the 1st note of James' whistle is cut off slightly.


  • It is mentioned that the events of the previous episode happened on James' first day. However, James had appeared in every single episode leading up to the airing of the aforementioned episode.
  • Clarabel is facing the wrong way when Thomas leaves the junction.
  • When James is getting his branch line coaches ready, the brake coach is in the middle of the train.
  • A member of James' crew is blond at the beginning, but when his crew wonder how to fix the leak all three have dark hair.
  • When the train passes James and Edward, a brakevan is in the middle.
  • When James and Edward overrun the platform, they are at Dryaw, which is on Thomas' Branch Line.
  • When James and Edward pass by the field where James crashed, the narrator says that the fence was mended, but there never was a fence.
  • In the restored version, when James bumps the coaches at Knapford on the second day, the bumping sound is out of sync.
  • James and Edward are seen coming down Gordon's Hill, however they are also seen travelling between Dryaw and Elsbridge, while Gordon's hill is between Wellsworth and Maron, and there are no lines connecting the two routes together.


In Other Languages

Language Name Meaning
German James und die Personenwagen James and the Cars
Croatian Jurica i putnik Kola James and the Passenger Wagons
Finnish Jaska ja Matkustajavaunut James and the Passenger Coaches
Danish James og passagervogne James and the Passenger Coaches
Dutch James en de personenwagons James and the Passenger Coaches
Italian Sbagliando s'impara You Will Learn From Mistakes
Spanish James Aprende Una Lección / Thomas y los vagones James Learns a Lesson / James and the Wagons
Norwegian James og passasjervognene James and the Passenger Coaches
Brazilian Portuguese O Conserto The Fix
French James et les wagons James and the Wagons
Hebrew ג'יימס והקרונות James and the Wagons
Japanese ジェームスのあやまち James' Mistakes
Welsh James a'r Cerbydau James and the Vehicles
Slovenian Jakob in potniški vagoni James and the Coaches
Polish Kuba i Wagony James and the Wagons
Chinese 詹姆士和车厢 James and the Cars
Korean 제임스의 실수 James' Mistake
Hungarian James és a Vagonok James and the Wagons
Swedish James och Personvagnarna James and the Passenger Carriages
Romanian James şi Vagoanele James and the Wagons
Slovak James a vagóny James and the Wagons
Russian На ошибках учатся Learn from the Mistakes
Czech James a vagóny James and the Wagons
Serbian James i vagoni James and the Wagons
Thai เจมส์อารมณ์บูด James' Mood

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