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Alphaline

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Alphaline was a sub-brand of British Rail during the 1990s.

File:Wessex Alphaline 158863.jpg

OriginsEdit

The brand was introduced for express services operated by the Regional Railways division in the Midlands, Wales and the South West. These services linked various provincial towns and cities, complementing the more prestigious Intercity network.

Alphaline-branded services were usually operated by Class 158 diesel multiple units and were advertised[1] as providing:

  • Reserved seats available
  • At-seat trolley service of cold snacks, sandwiches and hot and cold drinks available for all or part of the journey
  • British Telecom card phone
  • Air-conditioning

Alphaline trains were shown in the timetable with an αA logo.

Post-PrivatisationEdit

Although initially retained unchanged by both Central Trains and Wales and West, the Alphaline brand has, since 2006, effectively died out. However, even in December 2007, it continues to appear in the key to symbols in the National Rail Timetable, despite no services in the timetable being branded as such.

Central TrainsEdit

Central Trains continued to show some services as Alphaline in timetables initially, but without strong promotion. By 2001, the brand had disappeared from their timetables[2]. The company later developed its own Citylink brand for express services.

Wales and WestEdit

Wales and West used the Alphaline brand throughout its existence and went as far as applying the brand to the livery of their trains. Originally adding a vinyl logo to the Express Sprinter colour scheme of their Class 158s, the company later introduced a silver livery that included a full-height Alphaline logo on the side of the carriage.

Wales and Borders TrainsEdit

In 2001, Wales and West was divided into two as part of the creation of an all-Wales rail franchise; the company that took on services in Wales became known as Wales and Borders Trains. As well as retaining Alphaline branding on existing routes, it also re-introduced the brand to the Cambrian Line services that it took over from Central Trains. This lasted until 2003, when the new franchise became known as Arriva Trains Wales and Alphaline branding was quickly removed.

Wessex TrainsEdit

Upon creation from the South West England services of Wales and West in 2001, Wessex Trains also retained the Alphaline brand. The company also continued to repaint newly-acquired Class 158 units in the silver Alphaline livery - although it changed the colour of doors from navy to maroon or purple in an attempt to distinguish itself from Wales and Borders Trains. The similarity of liveries and the company name being preceded by Alphaline led to the belief that Alphaline was the parent of both companies in early days.

By late 2003, Wessex Trains was the only company continuing to use the Alphaline brand. The brand was finally dropped after the company was absorbed into the enlarged First Great Western franchise in 2006 although 158745 and 158746 still have large Alphaline 'A's and the words Alphaline displayed on the side.

ReferencesEdit

  1. Regional Railways Central: "Cambrian Coaster Train Times", September 1995
  2. Central Trains Ltd.: "Timetable J", May 2001

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