Full steam ahead! Life-size Thomas the Tank Engine hits the tracks in Japan

Smokin': Thomas the Tank Engine has been recreated as a life-size steam engine in Japan (CEN)

First it was one Thomas The Tank Engine theme park, then it was another and now there's a life-size recreation of the steam engine from Sodor for the Japanese to savour.

The Asian nation is known for its love affair with trains and many people take day trips into the countryside to enjoy a ride on a train.

And the arrival of Thomas has made the idea of taking a train even more appealing for youngsters than going to a theme park itself.

Getting Thomas' trademark steam the right colour - white - was problematic for the train company (CEN)
Unsurprisingly, children are thrilled with the new arrival to the railway network. The rail operators expect trips on the train be sold out during school holidays this summer (CEN)

Hundreds of children have even turned up at Shizuoka Prefecture’s Oigawa Line just to catch a glimpse of their hero.

The railway line operator expects trips on Thomas to be a sell-out during the school holidays this summer.

Spokesman Tsuguto Nishi said: ‘I am not surprised Thomas and his friends are also present here, after all, they come from the island of Sodor, and Japan is an island as well that is also with beautiful countryside like Thomas' home island.’

From Sodor to Japan: Hundreds of children have already turned up to get a glimpse of the life-size train (CEN)
Race you: Thomas the Tank Engine travels alongside a car in Japan (CEN)