TQOTD – Which Historic Livery Would You like to See Again?

Seeing this beauty sweep past the bottom of the garden the other day made me wonder about what other historic liveries would bring a smile to a Curbivore.

It’s a 6,500hp class 91 electric locomotive, designed and engineered for the electrification of the East Coast Main Line from London to the North and Edinburgh by GEC (that’s the (British) General Electric Company, now dispersed and defunct, and not the unrelated American GE) and built in British Rail’s own workshops at Crewe (founded in 1840). They have an unusual asymmetric design, with a streamlined cab at one end and a blunt vertical one at the other, which matches the profile and styling of the Mark 4 coaches they haul.

Nominally capable of 140mph but restricted by signalling capacity to 125mph, 31 entered service in 1989-91, and they have hauled the premier express trains of a succession of operators on the route ever since, most recently London North Eastern Railway. In 1989, one achieved 162mph – still a British record. But now they are beginning to fade away as the new LNER Azumas (Hitachi multiple units, built at a new factory in County Durham) take over – the 91s were the last British express passenger locomotive, and deserve a CC for that alone.

To mark their passing, LNER has restored no 91119 to the original British Rail InterCity livery of 1991-96. The loco was also named Bounds Green after the London depot that maintained them and is now closing as the new units sweep the 91s (and the East Coast’s HSTs) away. And it looks superb.

Other British train operators have done similar things of late. Great Western repainted HST power car no 43002 – the second of the production series of this magnificent vehicle – in BR’s 1976 colours for its last couple of years of operation.

43002 was named to honour Sir Kenneth Grange, designer of the iconic power car’s nosecone, and Great Western made sure it was the last HST to leave London Paddington, when the Western’s HSTs headed to the roundhouse in the sky in May this year – although 43002 will live on at the National Railway Museum, and deservedly so.

Classmate 43185 Great Western was also treated to a special look, with the same BR InterCity livery as 91119. She powered the penultimate HST from Paddington

Similarly, suburban operator Southern Railway painted the last of the 1977 built class 313 electric multiple units into original BR blue and grey colours for its last year.

And even the rubbish Pacer has got in on the act, in a typically underwhelming but for once in the Pacer story very welcome way!

Across the Atlantic, Union Pacific were the first of the American railroads to present modern diesels in heritage paint schemes, with these magnificent six in 2005. Units were painted not in precise copies of historic schemes, but in a ‘New Mini’ version – how the predecessor railroads might have looked if they hadn’t been swept into UP but had continued to develop their own styles, and with the slogan ‘Proud History – Powerful Future’. Stunning.

This is no 1983, for the Western Pacific

And 1989, for the Rio Grande – best of the lot, I think

And 1995, for Chicago and North Western.

And 1996, representing the Southern Pacific. The numbers assigned to these units represent the year the ancestor joined UP.

And, in 2012, Norfolk Southern followed, painting 20 new units in meticulously researched and applied liveries of ‘fallen flag’ predecessors, including such names as Delaware Lackawanna, Erie, Lehigh Valley, Nickel Plate, Pennsylvania, Southern, Wabash and others, right up to Conrail.

Here’s the New Jersey Central.

And the Reading.

And the Norfolk and Western.

And New York Central.

And it isn’t just trains. British Airways celebrated the centenary of its oldest ancestor, Aircraft Transport and Travel Limited, which operated the first scheduled international air passenger service in the world between London and Paris, by repainting four jets – an Airbus 319 and three 747s – in historic schemes from its own past and from predecessors BOAC and BEA.

They do look pretty special, especially coming into Seattle.

And the BEA Airbus looks very smart.

American Airlines has a programme similar to NS – predecessor schemes on modern jets. Here’s TWA.

And even tiny Aer Lingus have had a go, with this very traditional looking scheme on a 737

And, finally, Jetblue, founded in 1988, has a retro livery, showing what its designers think a 1965 Jetblue would have looked like. I guess this is the ‘Reverse New Mini’ approach.

And they have this one too, honouring the New York Fire Department.

These planes and trains are all out there working in the real world, earning their keep alongside their conventionally painted brethren.

So, the QOTD is – who and what should be next?

But it’s a Trick Question. We all know that the livery we want to see come back is the Santa Fe Warbonnet.