Neil was an engine who worked on the Sodor and Mainland Railway.
Neil was built in 1856 and was one of the six engines who ran the Sodor and Mainland Railway.
Neil and his five brothers continued working on the railway until 1910 when it went bankrupt and was shortly afterwards bought up by the North Western Railway. Following the S&M's bankruptcy, three of his five brothers were scrapped, leaving him and his two remaining brothers Clive and Matthew. Although Neil was saddened by his brothers scrapping, Edward eventually help him get over it.
Shortly before it opened in 1915, Neil, Clive and Matthew helped to construct the North Western Railway. On the new railway, they were used as shunting engines as well as doing various odd jobs such as pushing the Brakedown train to the scene of an accident. However, in 1941 Sir Topham Hatt stated that the Second World War had financially obstructed him from keeping Neil and his brothers running. Instead of of having them scrapped, he made a deal with some Indian executives to work as goods engine near Bombay, India, much to the engines excitement.
Neil, Clive, and Matthew left Sodor from Knapford Harbor in September 1941 and arrived in India about six months later. Although transportation wasn't as developed compared to Sodor, Neil, Clive, and Matthew found themselves to be very useful by carrying freight around the area. Neil made friends with the engines from the railway, including a friendly engine named Ahmadabad, who was named after the city he was built in. Ahmadabad states that if they keep up their hard work, they will be on the railway for a long time.
Indeed, the engines were there for a long tome. As time progressed, industry flourished, factories were built and the amount of work increased. However in 1980, a rude diesel engine named Rijul insults Neil and states that his time is coming to an end. Although diesel engines have existed in India since 1957, they were at first only used for passenger service and didn't pose a threat to the steam locomotive working there. However, throughout the 1980s, Neil and his brothers were beginning to be used less as they became more expensive to operate and maintain. Then in 1990, the railway manager tells the three engines that he can no longer afford to keep all three of them operating. He tells the engines that one of them will be sold to a small railway in Somalia that is in despite need of an engine, but can only afford one. The other two engines will be relocated to a nearby power plant. Since Clive and Matthew were wearing out, they were sent to power plant while Neil gets sent to Somalia. The following week, Neil was shipped to Somalia a week and he would later state that it was a worse fate than being scrapped.
For the first few years, working in Somalia was alright, Neil was proven to be really useful again and the transportation was even less developed than India's. However the Somali Civil War put the country in chaos as a result of the extreme poverty in the country, violence everywhere, industry was very weak, and government was gone. Then in 1996, a group of warlords who were despite in need of money to pay their bosses attacked the factory where Neil was staying at. Many people were killed in the chaos, which traumatized him. Various engines were hijacked and were never seen again. Neil still had to do his work despite the events happening around him. Many people came to the factory with weapons just to feed their families. Neil wished he could've been scrapped to put him out of his misery.
Several years passed and Neil was planning about getting himself blown up to end his life, but the factory went out of business. Sir Topham Hatt eventually found out about Neil and brought him back to Sodor. But even back home, he isn't happy due to all the horrors he had experienced while working in Somalia. However, BoCo, Edward, Henry, Gordon and Stepney attempted to tell Neil that life is worth living, but told them that they don't understand. But when the Troublesome Trucks sang "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life", Neil enjoyed it and it made him smile for the first time in years. He now knows that the engines of Sodor will always be there for him.
Later on, Neil was withdrawn from normal service due to his age. However, he found sitting around the yard practically all day to be very boring, so he demanded the Sir Topham Hatt he could have an increase in his work load. Neil's request was answered and he later was promoted to be one of Sodor's main shunting engines.
In December 2017, Edward was thinking about retiring from normal service after an accident, but Neil told him that he should only have a decrease in his normal workload due to retirement being boring stating "You'll have to drag me off the tracks before I retire!".
In 2018, Neil was reunited with his two brothers, Clive and Matthew, who returned from India.
Neil was described by Skarloey as "ugly but kind". He is usually a very friendly engine. However, he is not afraid to stand up to other engines if they act rude twords him or misbehave. For example, back in 1924 when Alfred and Gordon fought, he angerly told Alfred to leave.
Neil's personality changed while he worked in Somalia. He was traumatized by the events that happened in 1996 when a group of warlords attacked the railway he worked on in and killed innocent people and hijacked engines. Following these horrible events, he gained suicidal thoughts and wished that he could've been scrapped to put him out of his misery.
Back on Sodor, BoCo, Edward, Henry, Gordon, Stepney, and the Troublesome Trucks all helped to cheer Neil up and succeeded.
Neil is based on a Neilson 0-4-0 box tank, a simple and robust class of engine built in Glasgow, Scotland in 1856 and was sold all over the world.
- Engine Unknown
- A Tale of a Small Green Engine
- The Runaway Railcar (cameo)
- Attack of the Railway Pirates (credits cameo)
- Oliver's Tiny Tale (cameo)
- Thomas1Edward2Henry3: Engine Unknown-Present
Neil only appeared in the Railway Series book Very Old Engines.
- Towards the end of the episode Engine Unknown, Neil mentions that it has been 170 years since his time began. However, he was built in 1856 and would have been 158 years old in 2014 when Engine Unknown takes place.