James is the number 5 of the North Western Railway. He is a mixed goods engine and had a prejudice towards diesels, but has now overcome said trait.
When Spencer reveals to the other engines that he will be replaced by a diesel, James expresses his displeasure, ranting about how much he hated "oilers". Even after Edward tries to comfort him, James grudge remains.
He also witnesses Spencer being replaced, this time with Percy nearby. When Percy asks why James hates diesels so much, James tells Percy the story of Lady and Diesel 10, citing this as the reason behind his hatred for diesels.
James is tasked with delivering Derek's parts to the Dieselworks, much to his disgust. He "accidentally" loses the car of parts when he backs up suddenly, sending the truck into the Skarloey Railway tunnel.
Following the engines' relocation to the Skarloey Railway, James became increasingly annoyed with Diesel's presence. Eventually, he snapped and told Diesel that nobody wanted him there, causing Diesel to leave. This would turn out to be the last thing James ever said to Diesel: Diesel sacrificed himself to prevent Dodge from acting as a suicide bomber to eradicate the steam engines.
When James found out about Diesel's sacrifice, he gained immense respect for Diesel and felt extremely remorseful for his actions towards him. From that point forward, James became extremely courteous to diesels, excessively so: he once tried to give up his berth in the sheds to Daisy, to her protests. He also once tried letting her leave Knapford before him when he was supposed to go. This led Daisy to believe James was almost being too nice.
- Five models of James were used in the series, the regular version of James, the old style James for flashback episodes, Busy Bee James for the angry James face, and the James goes Buzz Buzz model used for Conflict in the Shed.
- Season 1: Sodor Day (cameo), Betrayal, Justified Retaliation, Modernization Marches On, Revolutionary, Change
- Season 2: Discipline (cameo), The UK Trip, Confirmed Suspicions