Transformers: Robots in Disguise Episode Guide
Episode 3: Bullet Train to the Rescue
Original U.S. air date: September 12, 2001
Written by: Steve Kramer
The Linear RFG bullet train, supposedly the fastest and safest yet built because of its highly-computerized systems, begins its maiden voyage with Koji among the passengers. Worried because of recent Predacon attacks on other trains, Optimus Prime assigns the car brothers X-Brawn, Prowl and Side Burn to follow it. Sure enough, the Predacons arrive to sabotage it and take its power plant for their own use. Optimus attempts to warn the humans about the attack, but Dark Scream has already destroyed their remote communications with the train and they are unable to stop it.
Optimus instructs T-AI to send over the Autobot "Team Bullet Train" via the Autobot global space bridge: Railspike, Rapid Run and Midnight Express. The Autobots are unable to prevent the Predacons from destroying the tracks, but team bullet train is able to surround the Linear RFG and, with Optimus Prime's help, slow the train to a safe stop. When Megatron himself arrives, the bullet trains transform into their robot modes and then merge into Rail Racer, easily repelling Megatron and the other Predacons. The Linear RFG continues safely and the humans aboard acknowledge their debt to the Autobots.
News coverage of the World Trade Center attack superceded this episode on September 11, and while many FOX affiliates began again the next day, many others did not. A mention of "robo-terrorism" in the sixth episode, "The Secret of the Ruins", caused that episode to be removed completely for editing, so by the seventh episode things were back on schedule pretty much everywhere.
"RFG" is a common abbreviation for "reformulated gasoline," so it's anybody's guess why it would be applied to a bullet train, which runs on electricity rather than fuel. Of course, it's also anybody's guess why people would want to ride on a pink train that looks like it's made up of bubble gum bubbles. Obviously the story was a device to get Team Bullet Train onto the screen, as was the later episode "Secret Weapon: D-5". After that the trains are usually shown popping out of the global space bridge in mid-air or driving along the ground like oversized trucks. To restrict the team to train tracks would have deprived the Autobots of Rail Racer's muscle almost completely.
It's somewhat interesting that the bullet trains don't suffer from the size-changing issues that Generation One Transformers often displayed. When they transform to robot mode, they're twice as large as any other Autobot or Predacon. Because of how they combine into Rail Racer, their gestalt mode actually isn't much larger than the individual trains, although he is noticably stronger and faster.