Thomas the Tank Engine has stunned the world of children’s television by announcing that he reserves the right to explore his gender identity in any future episodes of the hit show.

It’s understood that the popular piece of rolling stock was recently converted to Christianity by a goods wagon acquaintance, and that his decision has been influenced by the Church’s recent pronouncements that nursery school children, a group that Thomas sees as his core fan base, ‘need to be able to play with the many cloaks of identity and to explore the possibility of who they might be’.

The move is believed to have thrown the show’s producers into a spin with one insider commenting. ‘We all love the little fella but he just might effectively have done a ‘Beeching hatchet job’ and closed down the entire Sodor branch line here.’

However speaking in Rail Magazine Thomas was unrepentant: ‘Look, these youngsters look up to me and that means I can’t let them down. Therefore I think it’s important for me to set an example. So say that in a future episode I’d like to be seen wearing a tiara and high wheels, then that’s what I’ll do. Just don’t be surprised if you see Daisy doing a lot more of the heavy shunting in future.