Poulter signals all change for railway franchise look

Midland Mainline is to steam ahead with a corporate and brand identity by Leeds-based Poulter Partners as part of the railway franchise’s £70m regeneration programme.

The identity will roll out from January 2004 across the livery of the company’s new-build Meridian trains and on wayfinding and signage at its seven stations and two travel centres. This constitutes a ‘continuous programme of refitting’, says Poulter Partners head of design James Acton.

At the same time, the new look will be applied across the company’s internal and external communications material.

Acton says the work was inspired by market research, which revealed that passengers ‘really admired European rail travel’. ‘They thought it was slicker, safer and more efficient than [rail travel] in the UK,’ he says.

The revamped identity plays on these perceptions. Fresh colourways and a sleek logo, which echoes the shape of an approaching Meridian train, create an ‘overt sense of efficiency and speed’, Acton says.

The Mainline typeface, created specifically for the project by Paul Hickson, connotes ‘solidity, strength and depth’, he adds.

Poulter Partners won the work in May 2002, following a five- way, creative pitch believed to include the incumbent Saatchi & Saatchi. Creative director Geoff Crumack and lead project manager Toby Dalton were creative leads on the project.

Midland Mainline, which operates between London, the East Midlands and Yorkshire, is owned by the National Express Group. It was awarded a £70m investment package by the Strategic Rail Authority in 2002 after the company’s franchise was twice extended. The current franchise runs until 2008.

The Meridian trains, developed by Brussels-based Bombardier, feature interiors created by Seymour Powell (DW 23 January).

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