James is the No. 5 red engine. He is a medium-sized engine whose six driving wheels and being a showoff and love being splendid. He is also Eagle's brother and a part of the steam team along.
James was built by George Hughes at Horwich Works in 1912 as an 0-6-0 with a wooden brakes, James was once unable to stop due to his wooden brake blocks. After his first accident he had his front sandboxes removed, was rebuilt into a 2-6-0 for experimental purposes with a proper brake and a Fowler tender and repainted red with gold stripes and blue lining.
When James boasted about his shiny red paintwork, Henry got so mad he kept bumping into his coaches but when Henry began his journey home, he suddenly span out of control on the track and ended up going missing whilst Thomas was shunting trucks at the yard, he met James who told Thomas that Henry was missing and this had Thomas worried. James can be vain sometimes.
James is very proud of his paintwork. He hates pulling trucks, and believes that he should only pull coaches. He thinks himself superior to the others, and can be shallow, boastful, and vain, particularly to those who appear old-fashioned, weak, slow, or dirty. This has caused him to have somewhat of a rivalry with Toby. However, on a number of occasions he has found himself in need of help from those he has insulted, and is, in the end, apologetic.
James was the last engine to retain a prejudice against diesels. However, after stalling on a cold day, he was rescued by the Works Diesel, and James had to admit that nothing was wrong with diesels. This appears to be one of the few lessons that has stuck.
In the Island of Sodor: Its People, History and Railways, it was claimed that James is based on a rebuild of a L&YR Class 27 locomotive from the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway and designed by George Hughes, who added a Belpaire firebox and a Schmidt superheater and extended the footplate and sandbox. However, as with most of the early Railway Series characters, this information was purely retcon.
James is painted in NWR red with black lining and gold boiler bands. His dome is brass and his number is painted on the sides of his tender in yellow with black lining. In the Railway Series, James's black lining became blue after Main Line Engines. Between James the Red Engine and Oliver the Western Engine his roof color was inconsistently illustrated as either black or red; however, since Clive Spong became illustrator, James has been consistently illustrated with a red cab roof.
- Susan Roman (Thomas and the Magic Railroad)
- Kerry Shale (US, Hero of the Rails - eighteenth series)
- Stmanefyo (Series 1-12)
- A large-scale working replica of James, along with replicas of Thomas, Percy, Harold, and Jack, was created by BBC Visual Effects for a tour in 2003. The battery powered locomotive is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest model railway engine ever built, at 2.64 x 1.5 x 6.52 meters.
- In Toby's New Whistle, James revealed that he once had a three-chime steam whistle.
- In the Railway Series and television series combined, James has been painted more colors than any other engine.