"I'd like to introduce you to my good friend, Nia! Nia is a steam engine from Kenya, who now works with me on the railway on Sodor. I first met Nia when I went on my big world adventure. Nia helped me find my way across Africa, but first I didn't want any help, but Nia taught me that two engines are better than one! Nia was right, everyone needs help sometimes. Now, Nia works with me on the Island of Sodor, where she helps to shunt trucks and pull passenger coaches. She's one of the cleverest engines on Sodor, and she's great at solving problems! We're so lucky Nia has joined the Steam Team on Sodor, and I can't wait to learn more about Kenya too!" - Thomas talks about Nia in Meet the Characters!

Nia is an engine who debuted in the 2018 special, Big World! Big Adventures!. She is an African tank engine who befriends Thomas during his journey around the world. Due to her old shed being destroyed, Nia moved to Sodor and lives at Tidmouth Sheds as a new member of the Steam Team.


Thomas & Friends

Nia first met Thomas in her homeland of Kenya when he stopped in her yard to collect more trucks to take to Dar es Salaam while in pursuit of Ace. Noticing how heavy his train is getting, she offered to help, but Thomas sternly refused, stating he could handle it himself. However, she later arrived to help him over a steep hill when the trucks nearly caused him to slide back down it. She later encouraged the trucks to sing to raise Thomas' mood during the journey, and to help soothe an elephant that tried to charge Thomas when it was blocking the tracks. When they reached Dar es Salaam, Nia had a chat with her friend Kwaku, but Thomas interrupted before Nia could reveal that her shed was destroyed and she was looking for a new one. After Thomas thanked her for her help, he prepared to board a ship bound for South America and the city of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. However, Nia decided to join him, much to his chagrin, having wanted to see the world herself.

Thomas remained unfriendly with Nia throughout their journey, but began to warm up to her after they rescued a crashed Ace and made it through the Amazon rainforest after some difficulty, continuing their journey through Central America and Mexico before reaching North America and the United States. As they made their way through the Grand Canyon, Ace tricked Thomas and Nia into splitting their delivery to San Francisco between them and racing to see who is the faster of the two steam engines. Thanks to Ace, who wanted to get to the Bonneville Salt Flats, Nia was separated from Thomas, and as a result, thinking that Thomas was in on Ace's trick, she became hurt and cross, and continued on alone to China.

When Thomas caught up to her in the Himalayas, she refused to listen to his explanations for what happened, still hurt and upset about it, but hearing his heartfelt apology, she realised he never meant to upset her and was truly sorry for it. Before she and Thomas could fully make amends, an avalanche caused by Thomas trying to get Nia's attention swept her off the tracks and left her dangling precariously over a cliff. Thomas attempted to pull her back to safety, but a rock underneath her was dislodged, causing her to go over the edge and nearly pull Thomas with her, until Yong Bao arrived just in time to save both of them. After Nia was lifted back onto the rails by the breakdown cranes brought by Yong Bao and The Chinese Diesel, she and Thomas prepared to return to the Island of Sodor, with Yong Bao advising they travel through Asia and Europe to get back to Sodor via The Mainland.

Together, Nia and Thomas made their way back to Sodor, unaware of a signalman in India seeing Thomas and phoning ahead to let the North Western Railway know he was coming home. When they reach the Vicarstown Bridge, Thomas realised that once he crossed it, he would be home, but Nia would have to go home to Kenya. However, Nia revealed what she had tried to tell Kwaku back in Dar es Salaam before Thomas interrupted her, that she no longer had a home to go back to. Sympathetic to her plight, Thomas offered Nia the chance to stay and work on the North Western Railway, knowing that Sir Topham Hatt would love to have Nia working on his railway. The two engines crossed the bridge, returning to Knapford to find a large group of Thomas' friends, human and engine alike, welcoming him home. After Thomas formally introduced Nia to Mr. Percival and the others, Nia prepared to enjoy her new home on the Island of Sodor.

While enjoying her new life on Sodor, Nia bonded with Gordon when he was upset over Edward and Henry leaving Tidmouth Sheds, after they left in order to live closer to Wellsworth and the Mainland respectively, by reminding him they were still his friends despite now living much further away from him, revealing to him that she felt the same way due to all of her friends being back in Africa. She later learned about reading numbers with some help from Annie and Clarabel. However, she also fell victim to Bill and Ben's tricks when they made up a game called "Hunt the Truck", and Edward had to step in to make them give back the truck they hid from her.

Diesel bumped into Paxton and Nia and when they looked for the clues, they told Owen where the track to the tunnel is and they found Diesel. They told Den they saw the glowing track. When Emily derailed her coach, Nia came to help her. Nia brought Darcy to the pack to see Jack, Alfie, Brenda, Oliver, Max and Monty.


Nia is an adventurous and fun engine who teaches Thomas about friendship. Whether she is in her homeland of Africa or travelling around the world, Nia is positive and thoughtful. Her eagerness to help can sometimes irritate her friends, but her truthfulness and kind heart always win them over. She is a good problem solver, although she once had trouble reading numbers until Annie and Clarabel helped her.


Nia is based on the KUR ED1 class, a class of 2-6-2 tank locomotive built by Vulcan Foundry for the Kenya-Uganda Railway between 1926 and 1930. Primarily used for shunting duties, they were also used to haul branch line trains. They were later operated by the East African Railways and were reclassified as part of the EAR 11 class. One member of this class, No. 327, has been preserved at the Nairobi Railway Museum in Nairobi, Kenya.

Nia has been modified in order to work on British railways. Whereas her original basis was metre gauge, Nia is standard gauge and she has been given buffers and screwlink couplings in order to work with the other engines.


Nia is painted orange with yellow lining. She has African patterns consisting of red, yellow, green and purple painted along her tanks and dome. Her cylinders are painted orange and green with yellow lining and her footplate is painted red. Her name and the number “18” are painted on the sides of her tanks and cab respectively in yellow.

Voice Actors


Thomas & Friends

She will appear in the twenty-fifth series.


Promotional Material

Voice Actors

  • Yvonne Grundy (UK/US)
  • Patricia Kihoro (UK/US: singing voice; Big World! Big Adventures! only)
  • Yoshino Aoyama (Japan)
  • Noa Kashpitzki (Israel)
  • Franziska Trunte (Germany)
  • Stephanie Gándara (Latin America)
  • Romina Marroquín Payró (Latin America; singing voice)
  • Heljä Heikkinen (Finland)
  • Lia Mello (Brazil)





  • TrackMaster (75th Anniversary; discontinued)
  • Motorized (regular and 75th Anniversary)
  • Minis (75th Anniversary, Anniversary and Advent)


  • Nia's name means "purpose" in Swahili. She is also the only member of the Steam Team who is bilingual, as she speaks both Swahili and English.
  • Nia is the first engine in the series to have a female crew member, the first Steam Team member to have her name written on her, as well as the first engine to have an engine crew consisting of people of colour.
  • Nia is the only member of the Steam Team to be voiced by a person of colour.
  • Nia is the only member of the Steam Team to come from a country other than the UK. She was also the group's newest member until the debut of Rebecca.
  • Nia is the only member of the Steam Team to debut in a special instead of an episode.
  • Nia's number is a reference to 2018, the year her debut series appearance, Big World! Big Adventures!, was released.
  • Nia is the only member of the Steam Team to have a snowplough that is not the same colour as her livery, with her snowplough being black. She is also the third character to have a differently-coloured snowplough, as Thomas briefly used a rusty grey one in It's Only Snow, while Spencer also has a black one.
  • Nia joining the Steam Team in “Forever and Ever” was done in order to address criticism from feminist and social justice groups over the series being “sexist” due to a lack of female main cast members. Since she is also voiced by Yvonne Grundy, a person of colour, her introduction may have also been done in an attempt to please those who accused the series as "racist" due to a lack of racially diverse engines in the series for minority groups to be able to relate to.
  • According to concept art, Nia was originally going to be named “Kessie”.
  • Nia has the shortest name of the Steam Team members in spelling terms.

See Also

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