Sunday, 14 June 2015

The Revolutionary Reign of the Red Lamppost [2]

Paint, Punctuality and Publicity!
Looking back, it all seems very obvious. Brighten up the stations, make he trains run on time and sell the empty off-peak seats. Launch day was June 10th 1986 when two Network SouthEast [NSE] repainted trains pulled into platforms 1 and 2 at Waterloo.
Platform 1 was a class 50 diesel plus a set of coaches destined for the Exeter line, now the province of the class 159 multiple units.
The other was a recent delivery; a class 455. In their smart red livery and internally "refreshed" these are still the mainstay of many inner suburban routes today.
The 455 took guests to Richmond station which was one that had been done up in the new NSE style, virtually overnight. Waterloo had also been "Networked"!

Each of the main NSE routes had at least one train available for the launch.

The book's authors were Chris Green ...
... bought down from his "Scotrail" job to "sort out" London and the South East. So he ought to know what he was talking about, eh? He looked a lot younger then! His co-writer was Mike Vincent ...
... who died tragically in 2013. Inexplicably he left his home in Chudleigh on 31st October 2013 and was never seen alive again. He as just 64. Sad.

The NSE clock ...
... and litter bins ...
... and pimply-bum benches ...
... were all part of the brand. The book recounts one story of a big-wigs tour of inspection in the early days when the NSE staff were short of litter bins. Undaunted a couple of men were commissioned to collect up the bins from a visited station, leapfrog the inspection party in an anonymous van and set them out on the next set of platforms.
NSE branding in model form

But the big PR change was to paint all the station "streetlamps" red as fast as possible; even those that had recently been replaced by aluminium poles "to save money". At first ridiculed by the media, this was a really clever move. It showed, as Chris Green was wont to say, that NSE was a "railway in a hurry".

Punctuality was improved by using a mixture of staff training and infectious enthusiasm. The book quotes impressive figures.

As the weeks passed it was the publicity which began to excite both media and passengers alike.

The network card ...
... the one-day Travelcard, surely an inspiration in pricing and, fondly remembered, the first Network Day.
Each of these projects is explained and illustrated in the book. The list of initiatives goes on and on. It is fair to assert that the Railway had never seen anything like it before and has certainly never seen anything like it since.
fbb heartily recommends this book. It is worth every penny. And there are "pre-owned" versions on sale on Amazon.

If you want to seek out some of these NSE artefacts still in daily use, you could start with the NSE Society's "Survivors" web site (here).


And for another bit of delightful nostalgia; you can download or view a computer re-creation of the NSE clock complete with clunks! (here) And a real one changing at midnight.
Enjoy some more!

Back to the Todmorden Curve tomorrow.
From the Local Paper
Our East Devon attempt at a freebie weekly is called "The Midweek Herald" and it is a merging of bits of several paid-for Friday rags plus the obligatory Estate Agents' pages, but published on Wednesdays. Its reporters struggle with public transport matters.
This piece concerns a man who was so incensed by the actions of the conductor/guard that he stood in front of a train at Whimple station preventing its departure. It's the description of the train that is worthy of comment.
He stood in front of the engine (!) ...
... presumably under the bogie. Or perhaps the writer was thinking otherwise.
Class 159 diesel units began replacing class 50 diesel engines ...
... in 1993.
 Next rail blog : Monday 15th June 

1 comment:

  1. I see from the Network Card map that originally it didn't include Exeter as it only shows Honiton. Does anyone know when and why it was extended as that seems the only change to the area except Worcester which always seemed odd to me.