Do you remember this post where I tried, in vain, to find out more about "the British Rail train identification system that won loads of awards and they always used to go on about when I was at college"?
Looking through an old D&AD annual at the weekend I have finally found out the truth about the mysterious scheme! David was correct that it was designed by Roundel in 1989. Here's the full list of actors.
Is Jane Priestman related to Paul Priestman?
And here's the D&AD Annual spread.
According to the splendid C58LG website I've found out that the individual symbols were based on the major commodity carried by that particular bit of the business. They also explain that the top left of the symbols were designed to look like an F, for freight. Although the F is easier to see in the first picture above.
C58LG go on to say:
"The Coal sector logo (black diamonds) represents coal.
The Construction logo (blue/yellow squares) represents building blocks.
The Metals logo (blue/yellow chevrons) represents corrugated iron.
The Petroleum logo (blue/yellow wavy lines) represents the fluid nature of the oil.
From what we understand, the Railfreight Distribution (RfD) logo (red diamonds/yellow) was supposed to show the four corners of the UK, but on the other hand, it might well simply be a design not based on anything…!"
Yes, the 'four corners of the UK' is a bit tenuous.
Apparently Roundel also designed a series of Depot Plaques for each of the major maintenance depots, some based on staff suggestions. They're interesting too, but I don't really have any strong affection for them.
Another great website called DepotPlaques.com has much more information on this. Bizarrely they claim that Roundel still own the copyright to the designs which means that replica plaques "are not currently legally produced". I wonder if that is (still) true?
The scheme didn't win a D&AD award, in fact it looks as though only the 'Environment Identity Guide' made it into the Book. 1989, page 217 should you fancy having a look yourself.