Can it really be 20 years since the Railfreight division of British Rail launched the triple-grey sub-sector livery at a damp press event at Ripple Lane in East London? Gareth Bayer makes the case for this being the best colour scheme ever applied to a British loco fleet, before opening up the debate to readers, who can also vote for their favourite below.
PRIVATISATION HAS BROUGHT with it an explosion of different paint jobs. It barely seems like a month goes by before another locomotive or multiple unit is rolled out in a new and expensive designer scheme, but sadly most disappoint.
The humorous and satirical livery mock ups that did the rounds before the 1994 break up of BR have come back to haunt us now ten fold, as trains liveried in a mess of vinyl bus designs rub shoulders with schemes that look like they have been put together using Microsoft Paint. So you can forgive those enthusiasts of a certain age, somewhere between 32 and 50, who might hark back every now and then to the launch of the Railfreight sub-sector brand in 1987.
While earlier liveries are remembered with nostalgic fondness, especially the likes of large logo and corporate blue itself, it is difficult to argue that they were always a success. This is especially true of the all-encompassing Rail blue dip, which cut the famous ‘Deltics’ down to size and would have just looked silly on the later BR Type 5s.
Roundel’s masterpiece, meanwhile, was designed around the soon to be introduced Class 60, and continuing BR’s philosophy of commissioning a new paint scheme every time it bought a new loco type, was cleverly backwards compatible and looked as good on the grilled up Class 31s and 37s as it did on the US-inspired ‘easy access’ body style of the Class 58s and the minimalist Brush Type 5s – even more so when correctly fitted with cast arrows and depot plaques.
The quality of the design has been re-inforced with its adaption into Transrail ‘big T’ and by the application of EWS’ ‘zoo’ branding, which when applied well almost looks half decent. It is also no surprise that one of the more popular liveries of recent years has been Fastline Freight’s two-tone grey, which borrows so heavily from Roundel’s design that you’d think a licence fee had changed hands.
So that’s my opinion. Whether you agree or disagree, you can make your opinion heard by commenting below. RAIL EXPRESS has also set up a rather unscientific vote to determine what readers consider to be the best colour scheme ever applied to British diesel and electric locomotives.
Just click on one of the liveries below, which will automatically create an e-mail with a pre-formatted subject line. Please don’t change this if you want your vote to count. You can, however, add a comment in the body of the e-mail relating to your favourite livery. Vote away, and please don’t spam us!
PLEASE NOTE: THIS VOTE IS NOW CLOSED.
British Rail era:
Original British Railways green
BR Rail blue
BR Rail blue (with silver/grey roof)
Large logo blue
Original Railfreight (grey/yellow)
Derby RTC (red/blue)
GWR 150 green
Network SouthEast (revised)
Railfreight triple-grey sub-sector
Foster Yeoman (silver/blue)
Provincial (and Regional Railways)
Rail express systems
Civil Engineer’s ‘Dutch’ (grey/yellow)
Mainline Freight (aircraft blue)
Transrail ‘Big T’ (triple grey)
Colas Rail (yellow/orange/black)
Direct Rail Services
Direct Rail Services Compass logo
EWS (maroon/gold, inc. EW&S)
First Group ‘Barbie’
FM Rail/Fragonset black
Freightliner original grey (with red triangle)
Harry Needle Railway Co. triple grey
Mendip Rail (green/orange)
Network Rail yellow
Riviera Trains blue
South West Trains
Virgin Trains ‘Thunderbird’
Waterman Railways black
West Coast Railway Co. maroon
If your favourite livery isn’t on the list above, drop us an e-mail and we’ll add it to the list.