What the Foulkes?

As a fairly heavy user of trains, I was interested to hear on the radio this morning that Scotland’s trains are all going to be re-painted in a standardised Scotland-wide livery.

It sounds reasonably sensible to me. I never got why trains from the west used that old-fashioned maroon and beige colour scheme, particularly when (presumably for expediency’s sake) those trains were often used in other parts of the country. Mind you, it will be a shame in a way to lose the distinctive liveries of each franchise.

It does come just a few years after First Group decked out the old Scotrail trains in their own new colour scheme. Impressively, several trains and stations were made over overnight with the old stylised map of Scotland (I presume that is what it was supposed to be) being replaced with First logos left, right and centre.

(Incidentally, the First livery is a vast improvement on the old National Express Scotrail livery. Whoever decided that deep purple goes with peely-wally shades of orange and bluey-green must have been colour blind.)

At least the paint jobs will only be done when a train was due to be painted anyway. And it’s claimed that it will save money in the long run because if and when First Group lose their franchise the livery will remain the same. Having said that, what happens when Transport Scotland decides it’s time for a visual refresh as everyone feels like from time to time? I doubt much will actually be saved.

The reason this is a news story is that George Foulkes has been complaining about the new livery. You see, it depicts a Saltire. And because the SNP are in government this is a bad thing. Apparently it’s all part of an attempt to “brainwash people into independence”

The thing is, Labour also often used national symbols and there is nothing at all wrong with that. At least, you would expect it — particularly when Scotland has such a strong national identity. National symbols are perfect tools for governments to use in their materials / brands / propaganda / what-have-you. As Anseo over at Ideas of Civilisation points out:

What about when McConnell as First Minister had the Saltire adopted as the symbol for promoting Scotland – was this part of the plot?

How about the One Scot (Many Cultures) logo inspired by the saltire, started under the last administration…since that wasn`t under the SNP administration does this not count?

George Foulkes’s argument is further diminished by the fact that Transport Scotland have pointed out that the plans for this revamp began when Labour were still in power. Whoops.

As Ideas of Civilisation points out, this ought not to be an issue. George Foulkes is just frothing at the mouth for no good reason, as seems to be happening quite regularly nowadays.

Scotrail's new livery Anyway, am I the only one who thinks the new design looks nothing like the Saltire? I mean obviously I saw what the design was getting at because I was told it was based on the Saltire. But it looks to me more like two arrowheads pointing at each other.

I mean, if that’s meant to be the Cross of St. Andrew, it’s not because it doesn’t cross. I know that there is a gap between the two carriages that messes it up a bit, but if you continue the lines across they don’t meet. Also, that shade of blue does not look like the official shade of blue of the Flag of Scotland which is Pantone 300. In fact, it looks suspiciously like First Group’s purple. I guess that saves on costs.

Anyway, given that I have now unilaterally established that the train looks nothing like the Saltire, I do wonder what George Foulkes is on about. I find it odd that the sight of something that vaguely looks like the Saltire would “brainwash” him into becoming a nationalist.

George Foulkes being brainwashed

George Foulkes’s tie looks vaguely like the Saltire actually… Oh dear… He’s been brainwashed by his own tie!


  1. I`ve got a post on this waiting to go on but Blogger has decided that my blog may be spam! So I’m waiting for ti to be unlocked.

    Look forward to ‘Scottish Unionist’ posting a comment rushing to the defence of Baron Foulkes.

    With regards to Saltire branding…given the Scottish Parliament logo is a variation on a Saltire, does this mean that Donald Dewar etc etc were nationalists in Foulkes eyes?

  2. I blogged on this earlier today so won’t rehash that.

    Just one quick point of information. The design agency (Redpath) initially pitched to Transport Scotland in March last year. But according to The Drum (www.thedrum.co.uk) they’ve been working on the brief for just under a year.

  3. My first thought when I saw that livery was ‘X Factor’. I can see the potential – guards wandering through the 17.05 to Dyce with a microphone, inviting fare dodgers to deliver their best attempt at ‘Unchained Melody’.

    A suitable punishment, I feel.

  4. I’d be happy if the trains were not cancelled randomly, on time, and had air conditioning that worked. What colour it is painted, is waaaaaay down on my list of things to complain about to First Scotrail.

  5. I entirely agree with our comments Duncan!
    Yet the ‘saltire’ livery appears to have the “First Scotrail” logo ACROSS the doors, implying that the accommodation therein is actually FIRST CLASS!!
    YES, THAT Andrew Stephen!!