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European Railroad Discussion > SNCF Image Durability - Wither the Carmillon?

Date: 01/22/20 07:08
SNCF Image Durability - Wither the Carmillon?
Author: F7sForever

With rolling transportation strikes, dubious "inOui" branding, and other missteps, a discussion about problems with SNCF's image is less likely to include paint lately. Yet I am headed that direction. A few years back, SNCF, France's national railways, introduced a new corporate image, dubbed Carmillon. The paint scheme has become ubiquitous across all blocks of SNCF rail, showing up on everything from the much loved TGV high speed trains to RER local trains in Paris. When I first saw it on a TGV at Paris Gare du Nord, I was pretty smitten by it. (Despite my usual rule that white never goes on a train.) 

The scheme varies a bit based on what it's applied to, but the general gist is always the same: a dark gray and white carbody, with bold pink/red doors, and a similar pink/red contrast stripe on the nose to offset a black front surface and roof line. The scheme has been applied to a lot of vehicles, in place of a variety of other schemes. And while I like the idea of bringing some unified family image to the nationwide system, the bold splashes of color have actually turned the landscape a little more monochromatic. Either way, I think I have commented before that I was surprised by exactly how much Carmillon has been applied to everything between my 2017 and 2019 visits. When I was in France last, it was several days before I saw a TGV in something other than the new image paint scheme.

As illustrated above, the scheme wears pretty well when it's is fresh. (Photo 1: two TGV duplexes at Gare de Lyon; photo 2: an RER B line train at Paris Notre Dame station; photo 3: a Transilien cross-town train approaching Gare du Nord) But as I will follow up the next post, it has proven to be less than durable, at least on the higher speed trains.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/22/20 07:57 by F7sForever.

Date: 01/22/20 07:25
Re: SNCF Image Durability - Wither the Carmillon?
Author: F7sForever

Of the TGVs I saw, probably 3/4 of them showed some level of damage to the color stripes on the nose. This included general fading, splotches, and in some cases, similar damage to the similar colored SNCF logos on the front and side of the nose. I don't know why, specifically, but I have a theory. Like a lot of current operators, some combination of paint and decals are SNCF's preferred image method. I saw this when I worked for Siemens here in the US as well. They'd have these pretty elaborate paint schemes, but the vehicles wouldn't get more than two colors of paint, and the rest would go on with decals. If you look at the TGVs, the color stripe appears to be its own separate decal, as does the logos.

On the TGVs at speed, this area sees a tremendous amount of air flow, which would also translate to a fair amount of heat generated. The lack of durability on this particular decal could be something as simple as friction or impact damage from flying sand, bugs, water, etc. or delamination of the decals because of overheating. Either way, it is clear at this point that SNCF has an image problem, and the money being spent on appplying Carmillon to everything in sight doesn't have as good of a return on investment for the higher speed trains.

Of interest is the TGV Reseau in photo 6, which clearly had had the curved nose stripe replaced with a solid red tape of uniform thickness. I don't know how recently, of course. The black window band certainly lessens the amount of dirt visible around the upper roof line, but that's a whole 'nother rant. (Photo 4: two TGV duplexes at Paris Gare du Nord; photo 5: TGV EuroDuplex at Gare du Strasbourg; photo 6: a repaired TGV Reseau approaching Gare du Strasbourg)

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/22/20 07:55 by F7sForever.

Date: 01/22/20 07:41
Re: SNCF Image Durability - Wither the Carmillon?
Author: F7sForever

The lack of decal durability is interesting. The seventh photo here shows a POS train at Gare de Lyon that has previously served in Lyria service to Switzerland, but has been rebranded with InOui decals. The Lyria brands held up pretty well, and the outline of the old decals is still clearly visible. But the new InOui decals are already shredding. Meanwhile, the nose stripe is in good condition. Recently replaced? The InOui brand is less than two years old, and the POS fleet being moved to the brand is even more recent. So the Damage to the InOui decal is srecent. Clearly there are some durability issues with the decals being used right now. Does this extend to the nose decal supplier as well? It's worth noting that across the board, every single train that I saw in the 220kmph or slower category wearing Carmillon didn't have this problem. Literally 100% of them. So it's not a sun fading issue or something more systemic.

Either way, as much as I like the Carmillon in general, I think that the image problems are another serious problem for SNCF to address. It may be down the list a little ways, but they can't avoid it forever. I don't think it's out of line for me as a foreigner to say that the TGV high speed trains are SNCF's flagship services, and should appear accordingly. Its clear to me that the image design has some issues, and isn't working. It's either too fragile to hold up, or too expensive to maintain properly. Either way, I hope some changes will be on the horizon. Any thoughts?

Thanks for reading this rant!


(Photo 7: TGV POS at Gare de Lyon, Nov. 2010; photo 8: relatively new TER train from eastern France and a TGV Reseau at Gare de l'Est; photo 9: a TGV Reseau at Charles de Gaulle Terminal 2.)

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 01/22/20 08:00 by F7sForever.

Date: 01/24/20 20:17
Re: SNCF Image Durability - Wither the Carmillon?
Author: tq-07fan

I noticed it too when I was there in 2018 but had not reallly thought about it until your post. I liked the livery when it is new looking but yes it does look tacky faded out like it does. I notice that it wears or fades more on the older style TGV Atlantique style noses and not so much on the rounded noses. All pictures are from April 2018
1) Gare du Est
2) Lyon
3) Nancy


Date: 01/27/20 22:30
Re: SNCF Image Durability - Wither the Carmillon?
Author: gaspeamtrak

Excellent Sir ! 
This excactly what I like to see and learn about!!!
Thank you for sharing !!! :):):)

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