The adventures of Thomas the Tank Engine and the other Really Useful Steamers (and a few diesels) have a salutary effect on child development, plus they're just fun in real life.

The museum has moved the Thomas events to two weekends in mid-July, and the squirts and their patient parents continue to flock to the grounds in force.

None of which stops the killjoys out looking for hidden oppression or health hazards from finding gratuitous violence or dubious transportation economics or British imperialism or false nostalgia or restarting your career by taking down the Patriarchy.

It seems as though the people producing Thomas have taken some of the messages to heart (that would make sense: this is Hollywood or its London branch, probably in regular intercourse with the rest of the Academic-Media-Virtue-Signalling Complex) and they've expanded the cast of characters.  I'm aware of Hiro, the Japanese Mikado, based on a freight locomotive, and Caitlin, a streamlined Baltimore and Ohio President Pacific, and Connor, the Aristocrat of Locomotives (a Dreyfuss Hudson, for those of you in Altoona.)  They've brought in kettles from all over the world recently, including Rebecca, a Bulleid Spam Can, Vinnie, an overbearing Grand Trunk Western streamlined Northern, Shane, an Australian Northern with that Pennsylvania T1 look about him, Ashima, a gaudy Indian tank engine, Kwaku, an East African Railways Beyer-Garratt, and Nia, a Kenyan Prairie Tank.

All those liberties with track gauge and brake compatibility apparently caused National Rifle Association personality Dana Loesch to pop off.
Even by the standards of today’s political culture, it was a startling image: the talking trains from the children’s television show “Thomas & Friends,” wearing Ku Klux Klan hoods.

That was what viewers of the National Rifle Association’s online video channel saw as Dana Loesch, a spokeswoman for the gun rights group, took the show to task for diversifying its cast.

“They’ve decided that the next stop is Virtue Town,” Ms. Loesch said Friday on “Relentless,” the NRATV program that she hosts. She was responding to news that the children’s show was adding several female and international characters.

The segment echoed complaints by some that the additions amounted to politically correct pandering. But it confounded many others who wondered why a spokeswoman for an organization known for fierce advocacy of gun rights would weigh in on programming aimed at preschoolers.
Railroads are interesting, wherever they are, whatever they haul, whether or not the deer and the antelope play on the tracks, or perhaps it's an angry elephant.  Perhaps some of the preschoolers will get their parents looking for subscriptions to Railway or Railway Gazette International or back issues of Trains featuring the overseas railroads.

It's all too much for Abby Zimet.
"Am I to understand this entire time that Thomas and his trains were white?" she squawks. "How do you bring ethnic diversity to a show that literally has no ethnicities because they're trains?!"

Loesch had much aggrieved company among white people enraged by "the crackpot lefty pc brigade." "Thomas is too white for today's retarded social warriors" who "managed to infest Thomas with your (sic) forced diversity," they sneered. Maybe Thomas is an imperialist, one sniped, or "next they will want him gay," actually a fine idea. But Loesch had others. Pretending to mull the show's "racist undertones," she flashed a bizarre image of Thomas and his snooty diverse friends wearing white KKK hoods, riding on flaming tracks. "Oh, I get it...Fine," she smirked. "Thomas the Tank Engine has been a blight on race relations for far too long."
That is the impression the culture-studies crowd has cultivated, and now they have to deal with the consequences.  I'd rather see the kids reading up on Performance and Practice on railways all around the world, rather than the adults overthinking it.  Because when the adults overthink it, this is what happens.

First, a railway operations guru tells Sir Topham Hatt, "You're fired!"

Second, Percy, Duck, Ashima, Nia, and all the other small engines will be replaced.  Two or three of these will do all the work of the small engines, without constantly requiring attention from a fitter.

I don't care what color you paint them.

It isn't going to go any easier for Thomas, Annie, and Clarabel, or Duck and the Slip Coaches, or any of the other stopping trains.

Manchester Piccadilly, 10 March 1997.

The bigger tender engines that haul longer rakes of Troublesome Trucks are also off to the museum.

That's the new Universal Freight Locomotive, and Railway concedes it did for the freight rail operators of Europe what the FT did in the States.

Finally, I have a Universal Passenger Train to see off Gordon, Caitlin, Connor, Vinnie, and Shane.

Perhaps it's better for the adults to leave Shining Time Station alone and let the kids enjoy the train stories (and perhaps think about finding preservation railways overseas as well as in their own back yard.)  Contemporary railroading technology is such that the local freight, through freight, local passenger, and express passenger trains are beginning to look very much alike no matter where you roam.

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