Journey Beyond Sodor is the 2017 special.
One day, Henry is pulling a goods train to the Mainland, but because of a faulty signal at Vicarstown, he runs right into the back of Hiro's train and derails, dangling dangerously over the edge of the viaduct.
Meanwhile, on his branch line, Thomas is feeling bright and sunny, whistling hello to everyone he meets. As he pulls into Knapford station, he is complimenting how wonderful the day is, and feels like bursting into song. He is then promptly interrupted by James, who is boastfully singing about how he believes he is the best engine on Sodor. As James pulls up to the platform, Thomas rolls up telling him that he isn't the favourite engine and that he was going to sing a song. James calls out to everyone at the station that Thomas is going to sing, and everyone listens. Hesitant at first, Thomas is just about to sing, but James interrupts him and starts singing again about how he's the favourite engine.
Thomas meets up with James at Knapford station yard, once again insisting he's not Sir Topham Hatt's favourite engine. James begs to differ, boasting how he always gets the best jobs and teasing him for collecting pigs from Farmer Trotter.
That evening, Edward arrives at Vicarstown with Judy and Jerome to help lift Henry back to safety as Harvey handles the derailed trucks. At his office, Sir Topham Hatt is talking on his telephone and using a map and wooden trains to monitor the situation. Thomas overhears Sir Topham Hatt making plans for James to take Henry's trucks to a goods yard in Bridlington, where the trucks were meant to go. Thomas plans to tease James back over pulling a goods train, but James takes Thomas by surprise, as for the importance of the goods train, James is not bothered. Then, Thomas asks Sir Topham Hatt all about the important jobs and the taking a goods train to the Bridlington Goods Yard on the Mainland. Later that night, Thomas is upset. He complains to Percy about James' show-off attitude. Percy doesn't listen and leaves to collect the mail train. Frustrated with James, Thomas then has an idea to pay him out.
The next morning, James arrives at Vicarstown and asks Rosie for his trucks, who tells him that Thomas took them instead. James is left shocked, while Thomas, proud of himself, departs for the Mainland.
At the Steamworks, Henry is being repaired with Sir Topham Hatt supervising. James arrives and complains about Thomas' act. Sir Topham Hatt is not upset, however, and in order to keep the railway in order, decides to put James on Thomas' branch line for the time being.
On the Mainland, Thomas is marvelling at the Mainland's scenery. However, he then heads through a very busy yard. Engines to and fro and the trucks' annoying him, Thomas is left confused as to where he needs to go. Meanwhile, James overshoots the platform at Maithwaite on Thomas' branch line. Unhappy with James' rough riding, Annie and Clarabel hope Thomas returns soon.
As Thomas is determined to find his way to Bridlington, he arrives at a canal, but his track is blocked by a gantry crane named Beresford, who refuses to let Thomas pass. Asking him several questions, Thomas eventually tricks Beresford into letting him go. However, as he continues along the line, he runs out of coal and water in an old rail yard. He is greeted by Lexi, a cab-forward engine, and a geared railway traction engine named Theo. Theo shunts Thomas to the coal hopper and water tower while he and Lexi explain to Thomas that they are experimental engines. They also tell him that another engine named Merlin lives in the yard with them. Merlin is a "stealth engine" who can supposedly turn invisible, but Thomas doesn't see or hear him around the yard. He asks them for directions to Bridlington, but they cannot help him.
Thomas sets off once again and sees a factory in the distance. He makes his way over to the factory and finds that it is a large steelworks. He decides to go in to ask for directions. Two engines emerge from the building: a large tank engine named Hurricane and a diesel shunter named Frankie. To Thomas' delight, they know where Bridlington is, but they have him leave his trucks on a siding and give him a tour of the Steelworks. Thomas instantly feels welcome and the two engines give him a shed to sleep in for the night. Meanwhile, on Sodor, the engines are all wondering what happened to Thomas. James talks about the other times Thomas tricked others, fell down a mine, and crashed into the stationmaster's house. Percy suggests that James goes to look for him, but James is unsure.
The next morning, Hurricane and Frankie wake Thomas up early. Hurricane had delivered the trucks in the morning, so Thomas says that he needs to head back to Sodor. However, Frankie convinces Thomas into staying and helping her and Hurricane in return. Thomas reluctantly joins Hurricane and Frankie and spends the morning taking ladle trucks up to the slag heap. As he is taking empty slag wagons back into the building, he bumps into Hurricane's full wagons, derailing them. The molten slag spills, and Hurricane warns Thomas about the extreme danger that it poses. However, Hurricane and Frankie are proud of Thomas' work.
Meanwhile, Sir Topham Hatt had received a notice that the trucks have been delivered, but Thomas is still missing. James asks if he can go to the Mainland to look for Thomas, but Sir Topham Hatt refuses, telling James that he still needs to work on Thomas' branch line, as he can't afford having one more engine out of work.
At the Steelworks, Thomas is out of breath from all of the hard work. To make matters worse, Hurricane and Frankie leave to make a delivery; therefore, leaving Thomas to manage the heavy workload on his own. The gates are locked, leaving a homesick Thomas trapped at the Steelworks.
Thomas tries to escape out a track that goes out of the Steelworks. The track soon ends in a forest, and Thomas gets derailed.
On Sodor, James just gets further frustrated of the slow pace of Thomas' branch line, dealing with his line blocked by Farmer McColl's sheep. Meanwhile, Hurricane and Frankie rescue Thomas and tell him that he still has lots of work to do.
At Tidmouth Sheds, James says that he should go to the Mainland to get Thomas, as he was the engine who was supposed to take Thomas' train in the first place. Edward argues that if he does that, then nobody will be left to look after the branch line, however, Percy says that James would be a hero if he brought Thomas back, so James eagerly decides to go to the Mainland.
That night at the Steelworks, during a thunderstorm, Thomas once again tries to sneak out. He ends up breaking the gates open with flatbeds of steel. The racket awakens Hurricane and Frankie; they start to set chase after him, but he succeeds into escaping into the woods. There, he hears a voice telling him to hide. The voice then reveals itself to be Merlin, the stealth-engine Lexi and Theo had mentioned. Thomas wakes up the next morning, only to find Merlin is no longer there.
James arrives at Bridlington and finds diesel shunters, asking if they had seen Thomas, but to no avail. However, James finds Thomas' trucks, who tell him they were delivered from the Steelworks by a big engine named Hurricane. James then asks if the diesels have seen Hurricane. Despite getting no answer, Hurricane, who was at Bridlington at the moment, watches on...
Trying to find his way back home, Thomas returns to the yard where he met the experimental engines. Lexi and Theo are excited to see Thomas again. Thomas is depressed about his disappointing journey on the Mainland. Theo and Lexi, however, cheer him up, telling him that they're messy and can't do anything. Claiming he can do something, Merlin reveals himself. Thomas discovers that Merlin can't actually become invisible, as his design was a failed attempt of using steam out of his three funnels to keep him hidden. Merlin responds to Lexi and Theo with positivity, saying they'd still give anything a try. They offer to help Thomas find his way back home, but Thomas decides to go alone, thanking the experimentals for their help.
Thomas leaves the goods yard and finds the canal where he met Beresford. He tries to sneak past Beresford so he won't stop him again, but Beresford sees Thomas and lifts him up by his cab with his hook. Thomas begs Beresford to put him down, but Beresford refuses, upset that Thomas had left him alone when he was trying to get to know him. Thomas convinces Beresford it's not nice to force anyone to talk to him, and that they have to do something nice for each other to be friends. Beresford drops Thomas down, only to see Hurricane and Frankie with James passing by. Thomas asks him to hide him quickly from them. Beresford hides Thomas right over the canal. After they pass, Beresford swings Thomas back. Having done something nice for him, he asks Thomas to be friends and to talk to him. Thomas tells him that he has to rescue James from Hurricane and Frankie. To Thomas' surprise, Merlin arrives at the canal asking who James is. As it turns out, he had been following him to make sure he gets home safely. Thomas says that he has to help James; Merlin decides to help Thomas rescue him.
At the Steelworks, Hurricane and Frankie are showing James around like they did with Thomas. However, James immediately sees through their act, demanding they show where Thomas is located. They act like they have never seen him before, but when James realises that they're lying, they tell him he was long-gone but pretend he was going to come back. They tell James to do work for them until Thomas returns.
Thomas and Merlin go back to the goods yard and ask if Theo and Lexi can help them to rescue James. Lexi is eager, but Theo isn't confident. Thomas, Lexi, and Merlin all eventually persuade him into going. They head to the Steelworks and make a plan. Merlin says that he should use his invisibility powers to sneak in and rescue James, but since his invisibility obviously doesn't work, Thomas proposes that Theo and Lexi should stage an accident to act as a diversion while Merlin keeps watch and Thomas sneaks in. They set to try pull off their plan. Theo pretends to crashes a flatbed full of engine parts while Lexi calls Hurricane and Frankie for help. When they go to investigate, they're confused, as Lexi had told them that there had "been a derailment", the accident instead looking as though an engine "fell apart". While Merlin is back keeping watch, he worries about Thomas taking too long, so he tries to sneak into the Steelworks. Theo sees this and tells Lexi, which grabs the attention of Hurricane and Frankie. His invisibility evidently is not successful, so they catch him sneaking into the Steelworks.
Thomas finds James at the slag heap and tells him that they have to go. James, upset in the first place with Thomas, refuses, saying he will leave after finishing the job he is working on. However, Thomas explains that Frankie and Hurricane won't let him leave, as Merlin warns Thomas that Hurricane and Frankie are coming back. Thomas and James make a run for it. Hurricane crashes into James' slag wagons, buying Thomas and James some time.
Thomas tells James to go around the building, but he has to go onto the track that leads inside the building to avoid crashing into Frankie. Hurricane and Frankie chase James through the Steelworks, and he manages to lose them briefly, but they find him hiding behind some shelves. James continues to run away, prompting Hurricane and Frankie to become more aggressive. They begin bumping flatbeds at him, trying to block his way out. While Hurricane blocks James' track with a line of trucks, Thomas and Theo push it out of the way just in time. However, the trucks derail and hit a switch that activates a magnet, which picks Thomas up and suspends him in the air. Meanwhile, Lexi and Merlin shunt flatbeds of rails onto an intersection, blocking Hurricane and Frankie's lines and allowing James to escape.
Lexi, Merlin, and James get out safely, but Thomas is still hanging by the magnet. It brings Thomas over a vat of molten steel. Theo pushes the trucks into another button, hoping to make the magnet drop Thomas. The magnet drops Thomas, but into the vat of steel. Fortunately, another bucket hits him away at the last second. While now free from the magnet, Thomas skids on the ground and hits a slag wagon, which spills its contents onto the floor. The molten slag is dangerously close to Thomas, so Hurricane pushes Thomas out of the way. However, Hurricane ends up in the pile of slag and his front wheels start to melt. With quick thinking, Merlin pushes him out of the molten slag.
Frankie is upset and begins to cry; however, because not only can Hurricane not make deliveries with melted wheels, but the other engines are going to leave her alone without any help. She says that the only reason she and Hurricane kept Thomas and James at the Steelworks was because they wanted some help, but were unable to find anyone who wanted to. Thomas suggests having the experimental engines work at the Steelworks. Lexi and Theo believe that they can't do it, but Merlin says that they can try!
As they head back to Sodor, Thomas apologises to James for taking his trucks away. James apologises in return for his teasing about "being the favourite," saying that Thomas is probably the favourite instead. Thomas says that nobody is the favourite and that the most important thing is their friendship. Meanwhile, after Hurricane has been repaired, he and Frankie become fast friends with the experimental engines. Thomas and James go back to Tidmouth Sheds where Sir Topham Hatt and all the engines are.
Henry comes back from the Steamworks and asks what he has missed in his absence.
The rest of the Steam Team and Sir Topham Hatt and Rosie are also likely to appear.
- Vicarstown Bridge
- The Steelworks