Red Hot (Virgin Trains East Coast branding 2015 – )

The Beauty of Transport

In years to come, we might well look back at Virgin Trains East Coast (VTEC) as one of the last great branding exercises on the privatised railway. Along with Great Western Railway and TransPennine Express (which followed shortly afterwards), it represents a bookend of the truly privatised railway, at the end of a history that started with the distinctive visual identities applied at South West Trains, Midland Mainline and GNER in the late 1990s.

Twenty years later, infrastructure operator Network Rail is officially nationalised, the DfT calls the shots of the rail industry financially, several franchises are actually tightly specified concessions, and things have reached the stage where the DfT is even defining the branding of train operations. Recent franchise brandings have all featured small areas of colour applied on top of the plain all-over grey that is the DfT’s preferred option for train exteriors. The creation of “Partnership” franchises…

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