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24 September 2014

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You are in: North Yorkshire > Travel > The loco's new clothes

GNER train

The loco's new clothes

On Sunday 9th December, GNER is dead, long live National Express East Coast. How do you feel about waving goodbye to the well known livery for the last time? Tell us and we'll publish your thoughts on this page.

East Coast Main Line

Network Rail define the East Coast Main Line as the route that runs from King's Cross railway station in London to Waverley Station in Edinburgh.

GNER has run services on the East Coast Main Line since 1997.

GNER won the right to retain the franchise in 2005 but financial difficulties with its parent company Sea Containers and lower than expected revenues prevented it from paying the promised £1.3 billion in premiums to the Treasury during the life of the franchise.

National Express Group promise a range of improvements including free wi-fi in standard class, faster journey times and 2000 more car parking spaces.

On Sunday 9th December, GNER hands over the East Coast Main Line franchise to National Express East Coast. Gone will be the dark blue livery, red trimmings and Victorian coat of arms - which for many evoked the golden age of rail travel. It makes way for the fresh, modern white and grey of new franchise owners the National Express Group

"the new look will take two and a half years to complete"

National Express group told this website that although an interim livery will be in place by Tuesday 12th December 2007, the logistical difficulties of rebranding without disrupting services means the new look will take two and a half years to complete.

Travellers in North Yorkshire have already noticed the removal of the distinctive red stripe from the side of some GNER trains during the week preceding the National Express takeover.

The decision of the National Express group to rebrand rather than operate under the well known GNER brand has been met with surprise by some rail travellers.

National Express East Coast train

Nation Express East Coast livery

One commuter, JM Birnie, voiced the thoughts of many in a letter to the Yorkshire Post newspaper. "Please do not rebrand the locomotives and coaching stock now leased by GNER. I have got used to the present pleasing-to-the-eye livery and most passengers can pick it out from the other clutter in Leeds station. Passengers identify with the brand, the route of the Flying Scotsman." 

However, National Express Group defend their decision, saying that the new design was based upon research conducted with 2000 consumers and 250 stake holders. The decision has wider implications than those affecting passengers in North Yorkshire.

The group is also re-branding the rail franchise it operates from Liverpool Street, ditching the 'one' name in favour of National Express East Anglia. Its fleet of coaches will also be adopting the new logo in early 2008.

Philip Haigh, business editor of industry staple Rail magazine believes that how the new operator runs the service will be far more important than the new look of trains and stations.

"The easiest way to build up that brand loyalty is to run a good service. A good reputation will then follow."

last updated: 06/12/07

Have Your Say

What do you think? Will you miss the navy and red of GNER? Or do you welcome the new colours? Or perhaps all you care about is a well run franchise!

The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

ashton harris
well i think that they should keep the gner livery but put the nxec logo on but the nxec colours suit the hsts nicely and please put a matching comment

i wil miss gner so sad now come back

i wil miss gner like

Lets not get worked up about the colour of trains. There are far more important things in life.

N.E is a good company with the buses and coaches.GNER will be missed a lot as it has been running for ages. The new ones may look tacky, and people may dislike them, but remember this when you used their coaches, just think positive things

Malcolm Weiss
Yes I will miss the GNER livery. I think the Nat Express livery is certainly not classic, modern no,imagine after a few month how dirty the white will become. I prefer the legendary Flying Scotland link. Am going to Edinburg over new year. I am travelling first class,let's see whether their service has improved, that is indeed the true test

Adam Harrison
i think it looks quite smart and better tha GNER as that was a bit plain and boring

national express offers an excellent service i travel weekly with them and i havent found an issue yet!! VERY WELL DONE!

It's sadly not about colours of the trains. All the same at the end of the day they'll still be worked by the same staff, making the same mistakes. However National Express East Anglia Customer service is terrible! It is not what I expect from a TOC. Anglia Railways was far better with customers, they treated them well, alas the same can't be said for NXEA!

I will miss the navy and red of GNER with GNER being one of two of my fvourite TOC's with the other being Virgin.

Its a tragedy! National Express East Coast, how tacky does that sound! The new livery already looks appallingly filthy, and is usually a nice shade of brown or black, rather than white or grey.. They should of kept the GNER brand and livery, something people, including their staff respected, unlike this rubbish!

Bernard Gibbon
Sad to say NE have no regard for rail history and the named locos they have retained can only be identified if you are stood next to them. A trainspotters travesty!

david buckley
i like national express

I think that the new livery stands out and that National Express will perform very well. I personally didn't like GNER

I will miss the old livery but will enjoy the new livery too. I'm a bit drawn between the two but now, GNER is dead and National Express East Coast Lives!

I think this is a great decision. Just because the old people are old fashioned, young people like to have modern trains

dr alan fitter
the new light colours will in the summer soon show lack of washing, will smudge and look tacky. the new company could well have kept the classical colour/livery of gner. not only have we lost the name GREAT EASTERN but have resulted to a tacky livery. devon

Richard Adams
I miss GNER and as a regular traveller to and from school I do realise the difference. So far I think NXEC is doing a good job but please bring back the old GNER colours and branding even if it is with a part of the national express group badge.

Nick P
Sad to see the end of an era, GNER was run by people who cared about the past & embraced the future.Delta 91 was the finest example of working together to improve performance.Good luck to NEX I some how think you will need it.

The GNER brand could have been kept but instead would have stood for "Great National Express Railway"

When we ssid goodbye to GNER we said goodbye to a whole chunck of history and the idea that companies of years gone =by had eg LNER GWR. The best plan would have been for the GNER branding to stay and be operated by NX

3 months on and what do you think ? , i know what myself and the work force think ! , like many others GNER was a good company , it done its best , its a shame it had too go . nxec ? , unfortunatly things have gone down hill....may be itll get better .

jim scott
i think the new livery is rubbish national express should keep the white line

New tacky livery,same old unreliable expensive trains.Try Swiss trains for affordable, clean and above all punctual transportation.And they do have snow!

I really am disappointed that GNER is no longer, but i agree with what Jack said about the colours of GNER.

Andrew Moore
Who cares what the name or colours are or who's running it as long as it runs on time and it isnt knee deep in free newspapers.

Why don't these people stop re-painting the trains and run a proper service. I say, re-nationalise all of them as soon as possible, like the Dutch did.

Martin Hampson
The livery change is to something drab and nondescript. Looking through the reaction to the livery change shows it to be a crass decision by managment. Just goes to prove that you do not have to be bright to be a manager

Kevin Devine
More importantly, I'll miss the excellent service provided by GNER - some crazy decision by myopic civil servants in the Dept of Transport - that dept is not fit for purpose in strategic direction of railways. Bring back the SRA.

M Shaw
As usual a tasteful livery and corporate image is replaced by a tacky substitute which appeaars to be the work of some idiot graphic designer inked-up in the space of a bored rainy afternoon. No doubt National Express will pay a substantial sum for this "artwork".

i think that the National Express livery is a horrible mismatch of grey tones and Basic shapes. The GNER livery was much more subtle. they should have made a much more conservative step towards modernity, like First Great Western did with their new livery.

i will miss the GNER colours because its the colours of great britain and i think national express should have the Gner colours but still be called National express.

I am dissapointed that the GNER livery is being replaced by disgusting modern colours! Its such a shame!

It is a shame to loose the only Coat of Arms the British Rail network has left!And why are National Express encouraging people to skip capitals with their "national express" paint-work (NEXT have done this recently- next)!

Bring back the colours of GNER, NXEC have cheapened the quality image that GNER manged to build.

after reading many of these posts, I cant agree more. The smart blue and red streaking past will be sorely missed. these trains will always look filthy... although there could be hundreds of jobs going soon for 'train scrubbers'

Dave McBridge
Such a shame to see a cheap, tacky livery replace GNER's impressive colour scheme.I remember the first time i ever travelled GNER from London to York and the livery stood out from all the commuter services - impressive and grand amongst the dull, 'modern' colour schemes. The train looked like it was going somewhere important, sadly the National Express livery just looks like any other suburban commuter brand now.

National Express livery is a visual sign of the deterioration in the level of service that will be delivered to the customer - gone is the grand, regal look - in with cheap and nasty.

John Manley
Never mind a new livery: the East Coast Main Line is well overdue for NEW locomotives and carriages

David F Colley
Nat Ex a symphony in grey. Alas GNER we knew you well

where i live there is nothing better to see than the GNER livery, anything alse on that service is just killing it, it only comes to hull twice a day but it is the best thing in hull when it is here

Jen Cash
Train travel is too expensive in this country, and a new brand image won't change that! So until rail fares come down, I, for one, will be sticking to my car.

I will miss the GNER livery. The new isn't as nice as the GNER livery but at least it isn't as bad as the Anglia One livery. That is hidious but I still think that the old Transpennine Express livery was best with the big gold N on the side

Billa Abdub Wario 11
I like the GNER livery at the moment of blue with a red stripe.Though i do think it is a bit of a boring look sometimes.Though i do like the new look of white and silver but why not gold and silver .I'm bored of my local trains beign white and boring colours of south easten trains [SET].I hope national express [nxec] will carie on GNER'S impecable service and running of trains.

The thing I liked about GNER was that they seemed to actually make an effort, in contrast with other train operators. Their staff were helpful, the trains were smart and well-maintained and the overall operation had a quality feel about it. NEEC sounds like something to do with the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, (which is nowhere near the East Coast route), the new livery is unimaginative and the carriages will like a dirty Transit van after their first trip. Fantastic! Well done National Express for shooting yourself in the foot. Ever heard of 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it?'

A revolting new livery..looks like a bus.The GNER colours were much better than this new look,which will be a nightmare to keep clean

I will miss the GNER colours but t quite like the new livery. At least they didnt call the franchise something silly like c2c or one or give the trains a wild livery

David Spence
I liked the GNER blue and red and it is a shame to lose it. There is probably a way of national express reusing it but changing the names.

I travelled with GNER rarely but when I did I felt like royalty when I stepped on to those wonderfully rich coaches. Now I would feel like stepping on a cheep fair ground ride. It's not National Express it's National Disgrace!!!!!

David C
Branding? GNER had a brand that stood out and stood for something. NXEC's paint job looks like any number of bus and train companies - let's hope their service isn't!

Mick Gilbert
Have these people no sense of history, romance and pride. The new livery is an utter disgace. The prestige of the line has been sadly undermined.

Mark Lawton
This new livery couldn't possably look any worse. Just when the UK had a little on the rail front to be proud of (St Pancras etc)some bright spark comes up with this shoddy joke. An absolute outrage.

I miss the livery but NOT the sky high fares. Lets hope the next lot are more realistic!

Owen Vaclavik
I will miss GNER red and blue the new colurs are to modern

The grey livery is really horrible, boring and very unimaginative. Where has the style and elegance gone?

Chris S
I think the livery that NX are attempting to roll out is certainly one approach to raising the groups profile... but the llivery is just not bold enough, and niether is it dark enough to hide the dirt that it will no doubt accumulate.One of the things that helps you notice services run by the other big names ie. First and Stagecoach is that the liveries are bold, bright and use primary colours... not grey and more grey

I am sorry to hear that the lovly red and navy colours of GNER are gone. But I hope National Express can cut faster journeys to York and Scotland. The new livery is more modern and light. Goodbye GNER hello National Express East Coast.

I really liked the GNER livery: probably the only company with a stylish-looking colour scheme reminiscent of railway days of yore. It made me want to use their trains. It is very disappointing to see that even more dumbing-down of rolling stock design is now likely.

Ian Murray
What a waste of money! All of the current trains have been repainted very recently, and there's also the cost of uniforms, letterheads, station signage. Farepayers money being used to promote National Express. The current system does not work and Gordon Brown should have the courage to change it, likewise the Metronet shambles where millions continue to be wasted on paying administrators fees every day.

GNER generally provided excellent service and the Blue and Red livery gave the impressing of a high class organisation, The NEEC looks cheap and and as with white cars, white buses and white vans will luck very mucky unless cleaned daily. Having travelled on the train since the change over the uniforms also look like something off of "On the Buses", no not Reg Varney more like Olive!

Sarah K
I will miss the GNER livery. It had a classic look and made the line stand out against the cartoonish appearence of the competitors. The new livery looks like it belongs on a little local line rather than a long distance train.

Robert McPhee
Yes will miss it. The GNER branding portrayed a feeling of quality, the NXEC livery is 'modern' but could quickly look grubby. As for actual quality (perceived or otherwise)we will have to wait and see.

H Flint
From many rail travellers I have come into contact with say that the change of livery and re-branding is not necessary- spend the money to make sure the customer can travel in style.NXEC???????!!!!!!Not very user friendly.

Another naff image job from National Express. When will they learn how to gain respect?!

What dull livery! National Express East Coast NEEC? no one will ever beleive that they can be better than GNER, GREAT North East Railway, were great, what a pity about their parent company, hope they can get back their rightful place at the next review!

I shall really miss GNER. The livery and colours on their trains, were so much better than the competition and were really classy - on the route of the "Flying Scotsman",It was such a well-known brand, people would say "Oh, here comes the big GNER from London". I don't think "NXEC" has quite the same ring to it.As for that horrible grey...enough said. Comes to your senses National Express, and keep GNER!

Len Coupland
Let's get basck to British Rail or even the old LNER.

David Williams
The NX livery is yet another botched attempt at putting modern branding on older rolling stock. The hotch potch of silver and grey doesn't suit the older Rolling Stock (which still exceeds many new trains for comfort).The Blue and Orange of GNER was simple, classy and cleaner looking. The accumulated dirt from 400 miles of running will show up far more on the lighter background. GNER was a fantastic company and they will be sadly missed.

Rob the Guard - we can't publish your comment without doign some more research. Please email us at Thanks.

I hope that the names given to all the GNER trains are not removed. It is something that was fairly unique to the GNER brand and very popular with customers. The new gray livery sounds very dull and will undoubtedly end up looking dirty and tired. The smart blue of GNER could easily be adapted to National Express at much less cost, and with a better end result.

Johnnie Moss
I shall miss the dark blue GNER livery - I bet the new livery will end up as more of a grimy-grey than white

The GNER trains always looked classy compared to other trains and it always seemed very refined in the carriages. The new livery for national express looks cheap and dare I say it a bit "chavvy" whereas GNER was elegant and sleek

Sorry to see the GNER name go. another part of history gone

Geoff Cadman
Re-Branding? Oh Dear, more mutton dressed up as lamb? I hope the cost is justified because all people want is a cost-effective, efficient and co-ordinated public transport system. I was once a lover of rail transport and I really do want to be enticed back.

I'm hoping that with the rebranding comes realistic rail prices, instead of the extortionate ones we have to pay at the moment! Ridiculous!

Kevin Hullah
I can only bring to mind Devine Comedy's lyrics!

Paul Hepworth
I should have bought shares in a paint company, rather than Railtrack ones, at Privatisation!!

Ben Hawthorne
Sad that the livery is going. Its become synonymous with the East Coast Main Line, and in particular its hub at York station. Hopefully NXEC will keep up GNER's high standards and good work.

Nicholas Smith
such a shame to hear that the GNER trains are no more! I'm a student at York Uni and the trains for me symbolise the excitement and pleasure of going home for a weekend to see family every now and again.

I work for GNER & i am very sad that they have lost the franchise. We have had our difficulties like most companies but we have always tried to do our best & been passionate about our jobs, even through all the ups & downs & the low morale. GNER have been great to work for & i just hope that National Express continue with the good work GNER have done. We have a great team of people all across the route & i sincerely hope that we will all be ok. Goodbye GNER.

Peter Smith
Yet another waste of money. Each time a franchise changes hands, millions are spent on new uniforms, liverys, station colour schemes etc. It's about time the government stipulated the branding of the franchise and each new holder had to stick with it. This would prevent fares from rising as much

Edward Ramsden
Hi i think it's really sad that GNER will soon no longer be with us, the livery is fantastic and the colours are the best, and are far better then any other train company.

Whilst I shall miss the simplicity of the distinctive orange stripe, these says it's all about branding. National Express need to exert their own distinctive brand onto their carriages... we'll get used to it - just like everything else.

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