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My Top Five Liveries

John Chandler

JOHN CHANDLER takes us through his top five liveries.

Being asked to write an article about my top five favourite liveries set me thinking; do I even have a top five? There are so many varied liveries, even within the same operating groups; which to choose? Also given, as is well known, my interest in continental railways, what constitutes a livery? Does it have to be consistent over the whole train or just reflect how the coach was last painted?

When I first jotted my list, it included such iconic trains as the Australian Ghan and the American Southern Pacific Daylight Express. The liveries I offer have knocked these into a ‘cocked hat’ for the purposes of this article.

5: Le Capitole

Livery Operated by: Trans Europ Express

Livery Details: Red with white stripe.

Le Capitole

Le Capitole, towed by a BB 9200 locomotive.

Le Capitole, besides being a ‘named train’ was integrated into the Trans Europ Express network of prestige trains; its striking mostly red with a white stripe livery stood out from the crowd as it streaked from Paris to Toulouse often with passengers’ cars in-tow (on appropriate wagons before anyone comments!).

4: Le Mistral

Livery Operated by: Trans Europ Express

Livery Details: Stainless-steel body with red stripe above windows.

Le Mistral

La Mistraltrailed by a CC 6500 in the Donzère Gorge.

Number four poses a conundrum; is it a livery or not? I offer Le Mistral! This train has been both steam and electric hauled between Paris and Nice since 1950. Its name is taken from the strong wind which blows from the Camargue up the Rhône Valley towards Avignon. The conundrum is that the stock comprises mainly unpainted stainless steel body shells with just a hint of red stripe where the Trans Europ Express logo is applied towards the top.

3: IC2000

Livery Operated by: Schweizerische Bundesbahnen (SBB)

Livery Details: Locomotive in red or advertising livery. Coaches in white, with dark grey roofs and stripe along bottom of coach. Red doors.


SBB Re460 pulling a rake of double-decker IC2000 coaches.

Livery number three will come as no surprise whilst remaining a complete shock – it is not number one! I refer to the SBB IC2000 livery.

The powerful Class 460 Re4/4 "Slab" (as it is known by many enthusiasts of Swiss Railways) usually appears in the red IC2000 livery but is equally 'at home' in a variety of advertising liveries. The clean lines of the grey and white IC2000 Coach livery I find striking!

2: TGV La Poste

Livery Operated by: SNCF (Société nationale des chemins de fer français)

Livery details: Yellow.

TGV La Poste CC -mecdepaname

TGV Postal near Chevry, in the suburbs of Paris.

My number two livery is not only distinct but plain. I refer to the TGV Poste original livery which was replicated on all the intermediate wagons.

Initially, 2½ TGV Sud-Est sets were converted so that they carried standard freight cages; a third set was added in a later livery but, like the Royal Mail trains in the UK, all have now been consigned to history. One did venture to St. Pancras in March 2012 for the introduction of the concept of transporting freight on high speed lines, but this remains an on-going project. Disbanded or not, every time I pass the Technicentre just out of Paris Gare du Lyon, I still look for the yellow livery!

1: TEE Red and Cream

Livery Operated by: Trans Europ Express

Livery details: Red body with cream band along window lines.

Trans Europ Express CC -Roger Wollstadt

VT 11.5 in April 1970 in München.

My favourite livery is the classic red and cream of the Trans Europ Express. Seen all over Europe between 1957 and 1989, these prestige trains only had first class accommodation and all carried names.

Initially, seven national railways (CFL, DB, FS, NS, SBB and SNCF) formed the TransEuropExpress Committee in an attempt to regain long distance international traffic from the air industry. ÖBB joined later.

Comprising, at first, diesel sets (DB's V11.5, for example), the spread of electrification led to several locomotives and sets in the red and cream livery including SBB's RAe TEE II and Re4/4 as well as several classes of DB locomotive including the E10, E120 and the iconic E03. Coaches, including for the Rheingold service, a dome observation car, were provided by various of the member countries in this livery.

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