Thomas the Tank Engine has been blamed for a lack of women train drivers by the shadow transport secretary.

Mary Creagh said it was a ‘national scandal’ that there were so few women drivers on the railways, but was ridiculed for saying that the popular children’s story was partly to blame.

She said all the main characters in the original books–published in the 1940s–are male, and the only female characters are an ‘annoyance, a nuisance and in some cases a danger’ to the railway.

‘There is a preponderance of men in the transport industry and I am very keen to unpack some of the myths that stop women from taking up what are often highly-paid and highly-skilled jobs,’ she said.

Her remarks led Rob Wilson, a Tory MP, to suggest that Thomas’s creator, the Reverend William Awdry, ‘forgot he was meant to serve as one of Labour’s agents of social change’ when he wrote his stories all those years ago.

‘This is rather emblematic of Labour and socialism,’ he said. ‘It can’t stop meddling with things that really shouldn’t concern it–even children’s stories.’

There are 1,000 women working as train drivers, which equates to just 4.2 per cent of the total number.

Train drivers’ union Aslef is currently working to encourage more women into the industry.

Mother-of-two Ms Creagh said that the Thomas The Tank Engine books and television show were ‘wonderful’, but criticised the series for not having enough female characters.

In the original books the only female characters were coaches Annie and Clarabel, Isabel the auto coach, Mrs Kyndley, an elderly woman, and female engine Daisy.

Thomas and the other main characters–James, Edward, Percy, Henry, Gordon, and the Fat Controller are all male, although a principle character named Emily, another steam engine, was introduced to the Thomas & Friends series, which aired on Channel 5, in 2003.

Ms Creagh said that the tales of the little blue steam engine should follow the example of CBeebies series Underground Ernie, which features a main character called Victoria.

She also suggested that train companies could up the numbers of female drivers by advertising in womens’ interest magazines, or offering more part-time posts.

Hit Entertainment, which owns the rights to Thomas, said that more female characters were being developed to address a historical imbalance.

Topics:

Share This

We welcome comments that add information or perspective, and we encourage polite debate. If you log in with a social media account, your comment should appear immediately. If you prefer to remain anonymous, you may comment as a guest, using a name and an e-mail address of convenience. Your comment will be moderated.
  • Oil Can Harry

    Not only is Thomas the Tank engine responsible for the dearth of female engineers so are the Grateful Dead. After all, they recorded The Ballad Of Casey Jones.

    Stop oppressing women, you darn hippies!!!

  • D.B. Cooper

    As the white male becomes even more of a little sissy with each day, nothing is done to keep racist minorities, and male hating women in check. My solution is to hire nothing but women until all employees are female. The white male sissy of England WILL do NOTHING to stop it from happening.

  • MekongDelta69

    AmRen’s website colors are yellow and white, which causes a dearth of… uhh… something…

    I think my idiotic post makes as much sense as the above article, but I didn’t need 750 words to spit out idiocy.

  • Spartacus

    And Wile E Coyote is to blaim for suicide bombers, right ?

    • IstvanIN

      You are on to something there.

    • Alexandra1973

      I don’t know, but I’m not about to buy Acme products any time soon….

      • Lagerstrom

        Unless you need an anvil of course.

    • Dylan

      shhh….don’t give Mary Creagh any ideas.

  • JackKrak

    Which cartoon of thirty or forty years ago is responsible for the lack of sane women in politics today?

    • IstvanIN

      Betty Boop? Olive Oil?

    • AutomaticSlim

      Witch Hazel, aka Bella Abzug.

    • Katherine McChesney

      Little Lulu? She used to compete with Sluggo.

    • Gerald Michael

      Little Orphan Annie.

  • Massif1

    This feminist is beyond mad. She needs to be checked-up before she hurts herself.

    • PvtCharlieSlate

      You might say she’s off her rails.

  • IstvanIN

    I bought some Thomas items for my grandson this Christmas, including Annie and Claribel coaches. I never noticed the lack of “female” trains, either this year or last. I never even knew a train had a “sex”. But at least there is a black locomotive and tender, Hiro! And I bought him as well, so at least, while I may be sexist, I am not racist!

  • Where does one look in order to determine the sex of a railroad locomotive?

    • Ella

      That was your best joke here! I’m still laughing and will never forget this one.

    • PvtCharlieSlate

      Well, if it’s steam driven there’s a firebox …

  • willbest

    Its a national scandal that some guy that died 15 years ago, who came of age in the 1920’s wrote a bunch of books about trains in the 1940s and didn’t include any women of note? Perhaps… and I am just going out on a limb here… he wanted his books to conform with the reality of the time in order to make his fiction relate to the reader.

  • Alexandra1973

    Should see poor Wendy in the Bob the Builder show. She gets stuck in the office as a secretary and only occasionally helps Bob on the job.

    Note the sarcasm.

    And I only noticed this because my son constantly has a DVD going. Well…at least the show isn’t *terribly* diverse….

  • Tim_in_Indiana

    There are fewer female train engineers than men, so of course children’s books reflect this fact, and therefore the books are the “cause” of the “imbalance.”

    That’s twisted lefty “logic” for you.

  • Kenner

    I’m proud to post on a blog that won’t tolerate any ‘Tina the Train Tunnel’ comments. ‘Cause we is classy.

  • Pro_Whitey

    How do you pronounce her name. “Crack”? It seems like she’s on crack.

  • Ella

    I have always had a desire to work in the most seediest areas of town driving a train into stinky industrial plants and dockyards. Thomas the Tank Engine, a fictional character, has crushed my vision and dreams to be a train engineer. Lol

  • ShermanTMcCoy

    I suppose it goes without saying that this woman is an idiot.

    Rather dry wit from the Tory, though, I must say.

    • Lagerstrom

      Yes, his reply was very good. He probably wasn’t even trying to be witty.

  • OhWow

    The lack of males in the education system is a real tragedy. Both as teachers and students. 90% of schools today are filled with young women gossiping and promoting their feminist ideology as the young boys fall behind and have no male role models.

  • I did some checking online and the only locomotives that had masculine names were the 25 “Big Boy” 4-8-8-4 types built for Union Pacific by the American Locomotive Company in 1941 and 1944.

    The name seems somewhat apt:

  • I looked online and the only railroad locomotives I could find with definitely masculine names were the 381-ton 4-8-8-4 “Big Boy” locomotives, 25 of which were built for Union Pacific by the American Locomotive Company in 1941 and 1944.

    The name seems apt.

    • DNA Explains It All

      That machine could sure kill the unwary dead in about 1,000 different ways.

  • Don’t worry, ladies. The trains are all emasculate screw-ups. They never get their orders right, and in the end all they can expect is the bland acknowledgement of ‘being really useful’. Their lives are hell, an endless loop of drudgery and incompetence.
    Try watching the damn show for once, and you will realize that Sodor is nothing but Mordor – for tots.

  • SFLBIB

    “Lack of lady train drivers is ‘a national scandal’.”

    “Someone once defined a social problem as a situation in which the real world differs from the theories of intellectuals. To the intelligentsia, it follows, as the night follows the day, that it is the real world that is wrong and which needs to change.” – Thomas Sowell

  • RyanP

    “She also suggested that train companies could up the numbers of female drivers by advertising in womens’ interest magazines, or offering more part-time posts.”

    Offering part-time posts would appeal more to women? Why is that? Could it be that men and woman tend to have different priorities? That very statement demonstrates the absurdity of demanding equal outcomes.

  • Pelagian

    My children were little when Thomas the Tank Engine and Barney were regnant. And I have to say, they were relatively non-PC compared to all the stuff paid for with our tax dollars (Sesame Street and the Electric company and Arthur and all the rest). They were enjoyable, well-made shows too, if not “big budget”. Ah, ‘the Late 1990s’ .. pretty much the last gasp of non-PC America. Now, I am told by parents with younger children that children’s TV shows now always have one gay character, minimum. And instead of having a few token blacks, they’re down to token whites.