Following changes announced to standards last year, the new fleet of Elizabeth Line trains are the first to run on Britain’s mainline railways without a yellow front end in the post-steam era.
The change has allowed companies to make their own informed choice about their trains' front end colour, as long as the right risk assessment is done and all affected parties are involved, according to rail industry body, RSSB.
Transport for London will run a fleet of new Class 345 trains based on the Bombardier Aventra platform on its new Elizabeth line, which entered into passenger service this week. The new line when fully open in 2019 will pass through 40 stations from Reading and Heathrow in the west, through new twin-bore 21 km tunnels to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east.
Historically train fronts were required to have a yellow panel in order to make them more visible, a move which came in the 1950s when newer diesel and electric trains were found to be far quieter than steam. However since that time, headlamp technology has improved, and so modern, state-of-the-art trains like the Class 345 do not necessarily need yellow fronts.
Following changes to standards which came into effect last year, it's now up to the companies owning and operating trains to make sure they are sufficiently visible. For new and modified trains, this includes having the right arrangement of headlamps in line with legal requirements.
The standard describes relevant modern requirements and best practice on audibility and visibility, including where yellow warning panels still need to be used on existing trains. Indeed, the yellow front end is still a must for trains without the new arrangement of headlamps, and the spec for the yellow panel is still provided in the new standard where companies find this to be good practice.