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"I'm sorry about the trucks. I can't think how you managed to stop them in time."
"Oh well. My driver told me about circus people who walk tightropes, but I just didn't fancy doing it myself!
— Mavis and Toby

Toby's Tightrope is the fifteenth episode of the third season. It first aired on Shining Time Station in the episode Do I Hear in 1991.


One day at the quarry, Percy arrives to pick up stone for his trucks. Everywhere is still covered with snow and frost and the only engine in the quarry at the moment is Mavis who is sheltering between rocks looking miserable. Percy tells the young diesel to cheer up, but Mavis explains that her manager found out about her going down Toby's line and causing trouble and has confined her to the quarry. She then calls Toby a fusspot again, angering Percy who tells her that Toby knows a lot about trucks and that they must be left where he wants them. Percy then leaves to take his trucks to the harbour. Although Mavis likes Percy, she still does not understand why she cannot go down the line.

The siding arrangements at the quarry are very awkward and Mavis is forced to make several journeys to put the trucks in the correct place. Mavis is desperate to leave the quarry and makes a plan. She starts by telling her driver the work would be a lot easier if she could use a small part of Toby's line. Her driver, suspecting nothing, agrees and allows her to go as far as the first level crossing.

The weather changes, with the snow and ice melting away. This causes an increase in work and Mavis takes trains that can be so long that she has to go beyond the level crossing. She decides to go ahead with her plan to go further down the line without making it look like her fault and asks the trucks to bump her at the level crossing. The trucks agree; however, things go wrong when Toby arrives while she is gone and decides to shunt them himself. The trucks decide to bump Toby instead and when Toby reaches the level crossing the trucks push him down the line.

Melted ice and snow had caused the river on Toby's line to become a torrent and it washes away a crumbling wooden bridge after a log collides with it but leaves the rails behind which form a tightrope across the abyss. Toby's driver fights for control and by the time Toby is finally able to stop, he is on the "tightrope" precariously above the water, ready to fall any second as more pieces of the bridge crumble into the torrent.

When Mavis hears what has happened she is horrified and immediately goes to help. Toby is anchored to some rocks with chains as Mavis takes away the trucks. Eventually she is able to pull Toby to safety and later apologises about what happened with the trucks. Toby thanks Mavis, telling her that he does not fancy walking any tightropes again.

The Fat Controller sees Mavis later and congratulates her for doing well in an emergency. Mavis admits she was responsible for the trucks' behaviour but asks if she can still use Toby's line as Toby has offered to show her what to do. The Fat Controller agrees on the condition Mavis' manager allows her to, which he does. Mavis is now happier than ever and is considered to be a really useful engine.




  • This episode is based on the story of the same name from The Railway Series book, Tramway Engines.
  • A reference to Mavis is made in this episode.
  • This is one of the few third season episodes to use the brake sound effect from the Fox Film sound effects library.
  • This is the third episode to feature no character cameos. The first being Down The Mine, and the second being The Diseasel.


  • George Carlin refers to the chains as ropes. Michael Angelis made the same error in his first narration of this episode.
  • When Toby backs down onto the trucks, his eyes are wonky.
  • In the restored version, a hand can be seen pushing the trucks when they surge against Toby.
  • In a rare picture, Toby's driver is smiling when Toby is being bumped by the trucks.
  • Two of the trucks have their faces on their back end.


In Other Languages

Language Name Meaning
French Le Corde Raide de Toby Toby's Tightrope
Spanish Toby en la Cuerda Floja Toby on the Tightrope
Portuguese Toby em Perigo Toby in Danger
Dutch Toby de Koorddanser Toby the Tightrope Walker
German Toby in Gefahr Toby in Danger
Finnish Topi Nuorallatanssijana Toby, a Line Dancer
Norwegian Toby havner i vanskeligheter Toby Gets Into Trouble
Italian Sospeso nel vuoto Hanging in the Air
Catalan Toby L'equilibrista Toby the Tightrope Walker
Japanese トビーのつなわたり Toby's Tightrope Walking
Welsh Rhaff Tobi Toby Rope
Slovenian Tobi Se Znajde V Nevarnosti Toby Finds Himself in Danger
Polish Jazda po Linie Driving on Lines
Russian Тоби на канате Toby on a Tightrope
Ukrainian Тобів канат Toby's Rope
Greek Ο Τόμπι κινδυνεύει Toby in Danger
Romanian Sârma Lui Toby Toby's Wire
Slovak Toby Povrazochodec Toby rope-dancer
Hungarian Toby a Kötéltáncos Toby the Rope Dancer
Czech Toby Provazochodec Toby rope-dancer
Swedish Toby Havner i Vanskligheten Toby Gets in Spots Trouble
Chinese 托比的钢线表演 Toby's Wire Performance
Danish Toby Kommer i Fare Toby is Jeopardised
Thai โทบี้เกือบตกสะพาน Toby is Almost Falls the Bridge

Home Media Releases




DVD Packs


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DVD Boxsets


DVD Boxsets





  • Edward, Trevor and the Useful Party











Season 3
1. A Scarf for Percy 2. Percy's Promise 3. Time for Trouble 4. Gordon and the Famous Visitor 5. Donald's Duck
6. Thomas Gets Bumped 7. Thomas, Percy and the Dragon 8. Diesel Does it Again 9. Henry's Forest 10. The Trouble with Mud
11. No Joke for James 12. Thomas, Percy and the Post Train 13. Trust Thomas 14. Mavis (episode) 15. Toby's Tightrope
16. Edward, Trevor and the Really Useful Party 17. Buzz, Buzz 18. All at Sea 19. One Good Turn 20. Tender Engines
21. Escape 22. Oliver Owns Up 23. Bulgy (episode) 24. Heroes 25. Percy, James and the Fruitful Day 26. Thomas and Percy's Christmas Adventure
Canceled: Gordon Goes Foreign