Hero of the Rails is a 2009 Thomas and Friends special. It is the first Thomas and Friends production to be fully produced in CGI.
One summer on the Island of Sodor, Spencer arrives to help the Duke and Duchess with the construction of their new summer house. After being an absolute nuisance to all of the other engines by teasing and bossing them around, Thomas accepts Spencer's challenge to a contest of strength, taking heavy cargo around the island. Thomas's brakes fail after climbing a tall hill, and he runs out of control through an overgrown, abandoned line. There, Thomas finds an old abandoned Japanese engine named Hiro. Hiro doesn't want the Fat Controller to find out, fearing he will be scrapped, so Thomas promises to keep him his secret and work to make Hiro "Master of the Railway" once again. Later, he's taken to the Sodor Steamworks for repairs, where he finds old parts for Hiro. He takes them with permission from Victor, the Steamworks engine, only to discover that Hiro's hiding place is dangerously close to the Duke and Duchess's new summer house.
The following day, Thomas tells Percy about Hiro, and asks him to do his own job while he helps Hiro. Percy misplaces his own mail trucks and breaks down while doing Thomas's job, so Thomas brings him to the Steamworks. The Fat Controller finds out about this and scolds Thomas by forcing him to do Percy's work. With nobody else to ask for help, Thomas tells the rest of his friends about Hiro. They all work together in bringing Hiro new parts, distracting Spencer, and keeping the operation a secret from the Fat Controller while Thomas and Percy try to find the missing mail trucks. Hiro makes friends with all of the engines, but gradually grows homesick. On the day that the last necessary part for Hiro is to be delivered, Spencer discovers Percy's mail trucks, only to be cornered by Thomas, James and Toby. The Fat Controller accuses Spencer of stealing the trucks and demands he return them to Percy.
While Thomas and Hiro wait for Percy with the last part, they hear Spencer's whistle and run. Spencer finds them and gives chase, but without the last part, Hiro falls apart and is forced to a stop. Spencer is suddenly distracted by Gordon while Thomas moves Hiro to a new hiding place. The Duke and Duchess are furious with Spencer for abandoning his own work, and Thomas asks to assist him, in order to keep his eye on Spencer and to gain the trust of the Fat Controller. Meanwhile, the other engines visit Hiro to keep his spirits up. When Thomas finally decides to tell the Fat Controller about Hiro, Spencer tries to stop him, but he is foiled by a rickety bridge which collapses beneath him.
When Thomas explains Hiro's situation to the Fat Controller, he reassures Thomas that he would never have scrapped the "Master of the Railway", and the following day, Thomas and Percy bring him to the Steamworks. There, Victor and his assistant, Kevin the Crane, work together to restore Hiro. Once he's as good as new, Hiro with Rocky rescues Spencer, and they work with Thomas on the summerhouse. Spencer apologizes to the two engines, saying they are "both fine engines and fine friends." Hiro misses his home island, so the Fat Controller arranges for Hiro to return home. A farewell party is held at the docks, and Thomas promises Hiro that Sodor will always be his home too.
- Michael Angelis as the Narrator
- Ben Small as Thomas and Toby
- Keith Wickham as Edward, Henry, Gordon, James, Percy, Sir Topham Hatt
- Teresa Gallagher as Emily, Mavis and the Duchess of Boxford
- Matt Wilkinson as Spencer, Victor, Rocky, Kevin and the Duke of Boxford
- Togo Igawa as Hiro
- This is the first appearance of Victor, Kevin and Hiro.
- This is the first episode where characters have voice actors.
- This is the first Thomas and Friends DVD to have the 2009-2015 ABC For Kids Logo.
- The DVD was sold in a double pack with The Complete Series 10 at one point.
- The special was later shown on ABC Kids months before The Christmas Tree Express aired.
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