From an initial standardised corporate image, several sub-brands emerged for marketing purposes, and later in preparation for privatisation. These brands covered rail networks, customers services, and several classes of new trains.
With the size of British Rail's fleet, due to the time required to repaint rolling stock, in terms of the physical trains brand switchovers could be lengthy affairs lasting years. This worsened into privatisation, with the same services often using 3 or 4 different liveries.
The double-arrow symbol introduced with the creation of the British Rail brand in the 1960s, still remains after privatisation, as a unifying branding device used by the privatised National Rail network, and shown on most tickets, stations, timetables and publicity, but not trains.
Under the Transport Act 1962, responsibility for the state railway operation, British Railways, was transferred from being a trade name and subsidiary of the British Transport Commission, to a separate public corporation, under the British Railways Board.
As the last steam locomotives were being withdrawn (completed in 1968) under the 1955 Modernisation Plan, the corporation's public name was re-branded in 1965 as British Rail, which introduced the double-arrow symbol, a standard typeface (named Rail Alphabet) and the BR blue livery, applied to nearly all locomotives and rolling stock.
In the 1980s under sectorisation blue livery was phased out as the organisation converted from a regional structure to being sector-based. The Intercity brand was relaunched, and passenger brands Network SouthEast and Regional Railways introduced, seeing these divisions introduce many sub-brands. Freight operations were split into the Trainload Freight, Railfreight Distribution and Rail Express Systems sectors.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, new multiple-unit train designs being introduced to replace rolling stock also brought new brand names, often linked to other branding exercises, such as the Networkers specially built for Network SouthEast.
In the 1990s, BR created the European Passenger Services division, to run passenger services through the Channel Tunnel, under the Eurostar brand. After construction delays, this was operated from 1994, until it passed to the London and Continental Railways consortium in 1996 as Eurostar.
In preparation for privatisation, the freight sectors were further split into smaller business functions, as regional splits of Trainload Freight, or further splits along customer market, such as inter-modal traffic, each with their own branding. With almost all freight businesses going straight to EWS, most of these brands were short lived.
|Brand Name||Unit Classes|
|Heritage||100 to 131|
|InterCity 125 (or High Speed Train)||253, 254 (later Class 43 and Mark 3 hauled coaching stock)|
|Pacer (or Skipper on Western Region)||140, 141, 142, 143, 144|
|Super-Sprinter||153, 155, 156|
|'Express-Sprinter' or 'Express'||158|
|South Western Turbo||159 (Network SouthEast)|
|Network Express Turbo||166|
|Advanced Passenger Train||370|
|Blue Train||303, 311|
|InterCity 225*||91 and Mark 4 hauled coaching stock|
|Networker||365, 465, 466|
+ The Clubman was never operated by British Rail. Network SouthEast planned it was their new service to Birmingham (via the Chiltern Main Line) and nicknamed it the Clubman but privatisation intervened. New private operators, Chiltern Railways (former Chiltern Line managers) ordered 5 168/0s, which were only cosmetically different from the units planned by NSE, in 1996.