|The Scotrail franchise has it's own identity quite distinct from Abellio who currently operate it. 380011 in 'Saltair' colours waits at |
Glasgow Central on 9th July 2015
|Lime green was a stark contrast to pre-90's liveries. A Central|
Trains 170 approaches Ely on 4th November 2006.
More recently something seems to have changed. Several large franchises have adopted somewhat more generic liveries or decided not to re-brand at all. The first area to throw a spanner into the debate was Scotland- where many of the decisions on the railways are already devolved to Holyrood. Here the Scotish government has taken the lead and specified a livery which was first applied by First Group- the 'Saltair' livery. What happened here for the first time was the removal of the rail operators image from the franchise. First Group and now Abellio (who have run ScotRail services since April 2015) have a small logo pasted onto what is otherwise a 'national' livery. There isn't even a mention of Abellio in the company name or much of their promotional material - it is very much 'ScotRail - Scotland's Railway'- and it will stay this way for the considerable future negating the cost of re-painting vehicles which has long been lamented as a wasteful by-product of the franchise system.
|A large new 'Great Western Railway' plaque on the side of|
57605 at Paddington 23/09/2015
|The new livery de-brands franchise owner First Group from|
the new and sophisticated livery. 23/09/2015
First group has now gone on to de-brand another of their franchises- the flagship Great Western route out of London Paddington to Wales and the West country. In a bold move the 'dynamic lines' of First Great Western will be replaced by a smart (if slightly dull) dark green and silver scheme harking back to the networks Brunelian routes as the Great Western Railway. It is yet to be seen if this will be another livery which will transition with a new franchisee, and while only a handful of trains have yet been repainted the re-branding of the website and station announcements from 'First Great Western' to 'Great Western Railway' has certainly been stark.
|Despite now being part of GTR the colour scheme of|
Southern has not changed. 455824, 19 May 2013
It seems that as the franchise model matures the garish paint schemes of the not-so-distant past are becoming more subdued and also maturing. Operators are becoming more focused on service and less on having the most eye-catching paint job as their train pulls into the station. This is an attitude I would support as I have long argued that the public by and large does not care whether their train is aquamarine or pink- so long as it arrives on time and provides a safe and reliable service at a fair price. All this said it is difficult to see brand conscious operators such as the Virgin group relinquishing their red and silver scheme which is as much part of the product as the train itself.