"Thomas and the Lonely Tank Engine" is the eighth episode of the tenth season.
Thomas loves working on his branchline; he enjoys taking passengers up and down the line. But there are other jobs on the branchline besides stopping trains. Work needs to be done at the farms, and delivering goods made at the factories in the towns, and work at the harbour.
“I don’t want to go. I don’t want to go,” grumbled Thomas as he puffed into Knapford Harbour.
He was soon at work shunting coaches and trucks around the place-
“What was that?” said Thomas, slowing down as he shunted some loaded trucks into a siding.
“What’s what?” asked his driver.
“I saw a black tank engine; it was over there.”
But the engine had already gone.
Thomas eventually found the mysterious tank engine. It was resting in a shed.
“Hello there, I know I’ve seen you before-”
“And I’ve seen you before,” interrupted the tank engine. “My name’s Märklin. And you’re Thomas.”
“I never knew you had a name!”
“Nobody does; all I’m good for is being in the background.”
Thomas puffed back to work feeling a little sorry for Märklin.
Early that afternoon the workload increased.
“Where did all these ships come from?” said Märklin, shunting loaded vans of chickens, ducks, and pigs into a siding.
“There’s a storm coming; that’s what driver told me,” said Thomas, pushing loaded stone trucks to a grappling crane.
The sky soon became grey; the engines were having a rest before the final race to get ships leaving out to sea and loaded ships unloaded.
“What kind of job is your favorite?” asked Thomas.
“I like pulling slow goods trains. It suits me due to my slow speed. You?”
“Passenger trains are my favorite. Do you have a job that you don’t like?”
“Helping to laod trucks with rubbish. UGH!”
“I don’t like working with fish. It’s probably because-”
“You got that fish stuck in your tank,” finished Märklin.
Then they went back to work; Märklin was starting to realize what Thomas was doing.
“It would be nice to finally have a friend; but I’ll have to see if he truly wants to be my friend. I’ve had enough of ships saying ‘You’re my new friend Märklin’ when really they leave me behind. And when they return they don’t even want to catch up with me.”
The rain began to pound everything; the engines were working fast and hard to get the ships unloaded. The workmen were moving quickly too.
“Märklin’s coming!” shouted a workman to a shunter, who changed the points.
“Märklin, STOP!” shouted Thomas, who blew his whistle.
Märklin was in a siding when he should have been switched to move his line of empty vans over to some crates. He braked hard. The vans weren’t coupled up to him; although he’d been going at a slow speed, the vans continued to roll.
“Clumsy Märklin! Doesn’t know h-”
“Shut up! It’s not his fault!” said Thomas, puffing over to take a look at the scene.
Soon the vans were back on the rails. The storm was still starting to get worse. Everyone decided to work at their normal pace; they soon had the work done.
“Good news Thomas; tomorrow you’ll go back to working with Annie and Clarabel,” said his driver, walking out of the shed to go home.
“But I don’t want to go now; not after trying to make friends with Märklin.”
“It’s alright Thomas. I understand. I move around from place to place too. And you know, you’re the first true friend that I’ve ever made. I bet we’ll see each other again soon.”
“And I’ll make sure my friends Percy, Toby, and the other engines who help out get to know you. Everyone deserves a proper chance to make friends with others.”
Thomas was as good as his word; Percy and Toby did come and got to know Märklin, and so did many others. As Märklin went from one part of the railway to the next, everyone eventually knew who he was, and before long he was no longer a lonely tank engine.