Thomas the Tank Engine comes to Australia

The much loved Thomas & Friends children's TV show is receiving a major revamp.
The much loved Thomas & Friends children's TV show is receiving a major revamp.

Britain's favourite tank engine is set to get some new Australian mates as part of a major overhaul for the long-running Thomas & Friends program.

Promising a more multicultural and gender diverse line-up, the revamped series also features four new Australian characters.

And Thomas is about to leave Sodor for the first time in 73 years to travel the world, with four episodes set Down Under.

Thomas fans will already know Shane, the green-and-gold Australian engine from the movie The Great Race. Shane will return to the show as a regular character.

He'll be joined by Isla the aeroplane, who is part of the Flying Doctor Service, new green-and-gold coaches Aubrey and Aiden, and Tamika the rainforest engine.

The new-look Thomas & Friends will also feature characters from Kenya, India and China.

The previous narration voiced by Ringo Starr and Mark Moraghan is being replaced by narration from Thomas himself, and the theme song has also been upgraded.

Thomas & Friends senior producer Ian McCue says the show is evolving to remain relevant to a new generation.

"The changes and new additions of characters and geographies will make the show more entertaining, inclusive and global - whilst ensuring all the favourite characters and storylines that fans around the world love remain at the heart of the action," he said.

The new series launched on the ABC this week.

Australian Associated Press