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Elizabeth Line trains first to run without yellow front ends since steam era

The new Elizabeth Line trains, the first of which was introduced on the London network last week, will be the first fleet to run on Britain’s mainline railways without a yellow front end in the post-steam era.

Early last year, the RSSB announced that the colour of trains’ front ends would start being set by the companies themselves, meaning they would no longer have to adhere to the compulsory yellow hue.

Train fronts have been historically required to have a yellow panel to ensure they are visible, ever since newer diesel and electric trains were found to be far quieter than steam in the 1950s. But headlamp technology has improved since then, meaning modern state-of-the-art fleets do not necessarily need to be painted brightly.

Instead, companies owning and operating fleets are now responsible for ensuring carriages are sufficiently visible by conducting a risk assessment involving all affected parties before new colours are implemented, and ensuring new and modified vehicles have the right arrangement of headlamps in line with legal requirements.

Because of these requirements, the yellow front end panel remains “a must” for trains without the new arrangement of headlamps. The spec for the yellow panel is also still provided in the new standard where companies find this to be good practice.

Although the regulatory changes came into effect in 2016, the Elizabeth Line fleet of Class 345s will be the first to run on the mainline network without a yellow panel.

The trains, based on Bombardier’s Aventra design, feature a black front end panel and a white and purple livery.

The first of these passenger trains was introduced late last week on the line between Liverpool Street and Shenfield, marking the first of the 66-strong fleet of Class 345s to operate in the capital. By autumn, 11 trains will be running on the route.


Jimbo   27/06/2017 at 10:40

Good, this brings us in line with the rest of the world, which take a more pragmatic view on safety. Nevertheless, I wonder how long it will be until a track worker is hit by a 345 and the unions are up in arms about the lack of sufficient safety precautions. Hopefully it never happens and we can let the yellow front end fade into history.

Andrew Gwilt   27/06/2017 at 11:08

Same with the Class 710, Class 717's, Class 720, Class 745's, Class 755's and other new rolling stocks.

J, Leicester   27/06/2017 at 11:30

I always did wonder how mainline steam operations got around the obvious lack of warning panels on the locomotives - is the minimum decibel level arbitrary? I only ask because there are a number of diesels and the odd electric on the network which, in their element, are every bit as noisy as the loudest kettle - a 37 growling or a VP185 HST accelerating spring to mind, or even a 92 with a heavy load - so what's with the catch-all rules on yellow front ends for diesel and electrics in the first place? I kind of just get the feeling it was a subtle way to market the new power mode as "modern" in the 1960s, to differentiate it from the old steam traction, rather than a real safety precaution. After all, other countries have managed to get by without yellow panels all this time without any higher documented rates of accidents. That being said, to paraphrase Jimbo, I await with inevitable despair the ill-informed calls to reintroduce yellow ends from the unions and press the moment somebody goes under a 345, regardless of the reason for such a tragedy.

Matt Whyndham   27/06/2017 at 11:32

This is modern holistic engineering, rather than piecewise box ticking, so it's welcome that the regs were changed to allow this approach. The required safety performance (i.e. to be visible) is understood (assured) to be delivered by considering the solution as a whole, as opposed to making sure it's composed of parts that happen to meet their individual specifications.

Gabriel Oaks   27/06/2017 at 12:43

@The new Elizabeth Line trains, the first of which was introduced on the London network last week, will be the first fleet to run on Britain’s mainline railways without a yellow front end in the post-steam era. Except all the heritage steam services run since the end of steam and the brand new steam locomotive Tornado........

Www.Bloodandcustard.Com   27/06/2017 at 13:00

Yellow warning panels started appearing on the Southern Region in earnest late 1963 although some units (such as BIL /HAL stock) didn't receive them until 1967; by then other units were being outshopped in corporate blue with full yellow ends. Many of the Crompton diesels didn't receive yellow warning panels until 1966; D6580 being the only one to receive a small yellow warning panel due to the pull-push jumpers.

Trackworker Rob   27/06/2017 at 18:04

This is a very stupid idea thought of by designers and office bound idiots .Ive been working S&T on the Railway for 30 years (I've worked on high speed /metro/LUL/tramways) Ian's I can tell you the best safety feature for any trackworker is the yellow front end during daylight hours (every trackworker I know agrees with this)any light blends into the horizon during sunny days and can fail (colour gets dirty don't fail) the steam train argument is rubbish there very loud and can be heard miles away .Even other countries suburban railways now copy the UK like Belgium/Australia/India and many others Russia has a high vis stripe as does Italy the RMT should be straight on this the mainline speeds should come into account it's not like LUL where the fastest train is 40mph its bloody dangerous out there any safety device should like this shouldn't be played around with

Gabriel Oaks   28/06/2017 at 06:04

"RMT should be straight on this" Given their vociferous condemnation of DCO on Southern (backed by strike action) on the basis of safety I am surprised the unions seemingly haven't publically raised this from the point at which NRIL changed it's standards to omit the use of yellow warning panels.

Noam Bleicher   28/06/2017 at 11:50

Rob, a warning panel will continue to be a requirement for trains without the brightest headlights. For trains that have the right headlights however, the panel is much less visible from a mile away than the headlights. Think of a Cl 200 Voyager unit as an example.

J. Oker   28/06/2017 at 13:31

Don't the French Le Poste TGV sets have full yellow ends.... ;-)

Martin   28/06/2017 at 20:19

They did. They are no more. They were dismantled in December last year.

J. Oker   29/06/2017 at 07:12

"They were dismantled in December last year." Thanks - I must get out more!

KC1   30/06/2017 at 02:04

Errr no, new thameslink trains have no yellow fronts.

Mark Hare   30/06/2017 at 12:30

@Trackworker Rob - "it's not like LUL where the fastest train is 40mph" - LUL trains actually run at 60mph in many places and of course their trains have red front ends rather than yellow, still providing a visible warning of a train's approach.

GW   30/06/2017 at 21:50

Have you noticed how the people making the rules are not usually those out on the track day and night. If you speak to them they generally expect this change to result in deaths.

Andrew G   30/06/2017 at 22:18

Next year. Bombardier will be manufacturing the London Overground Class 710's that will also have no yellow ends and to be exactly the same design as the Elizabeth Line Class 345's but are to be built as 4-car trains that will replace the LO Class 315's and Class 317's used on Lea Valley (Liverpool St-Enfield Town, Cheshunt and Chingford) metro services & Romford-Upminster line shuttle service and LO Class 172's used on Gospel Oak-Barking Line service (if electrification is completed) and the Class 710's to replace the current LO Class 378's on the Euston-Watford DC Line service to transfer the Class 378's to East London Line services.

Roger, Sheffield & Glossop   03/07/2017 at 11:20

J, "back when" I remember us asking when we'd see a 9F or BR standard 5 with a yellow smokebox door &, if not, why not? Some of the diesel classes in the 60s were deafening, even if the worst (Metro-Vick / Crossley Co-Bos) only outlasted steam by 6 weeks.

PMH   07/07/2017 at 13:23

Actually the new Thameslink trains do have a small yellow panel. However the London Underground S-stock is a post-steam fleet which runs over Network Rail lines (Richmond branch) on a daily basis and has red rather than yellow front, so the story is not quite right. (Also the Bakerloo Line 1972-stock trains, of course.) Personally I think this is a retrograde step. Time will tell.

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