Prior to nationalisation, railways in the United Kingdom were awash with different logos, typefaces and identities.
With the formation of British Railways in 1948 came the opportunity to standardise corporate image, but that has changed once again following privatisation in the 1990s.
You can read our short article on British Railway Fonts: Past & Present here or download typefaces and fonts below.
Gill Sans / British Railways era
In 1949 the Railway Executive (a division of the British Transport Commission) decided on standard types of signs to be used at all stations.
Lettering was to use the Gill Sans typeface on a coloured background, which was determined by the regional division. This style persisted for nearly 15 years.
A copy of the Gill Sans MT font can be downloaded below as a zip file. As far as we are aware, the font is free to distribute for personal use.
★ Gill Sans MT
Rail Alphabet / British Rail era
The original Rail Alphabet typeface is a commercial product, however a free version of two similar fonts was made available a number of years ago via the Railways Archive website and can be found on a variety of other websites and forms.
These fonts are a very close likeness to the original typeface and are ideal for a variety of railway modelling needs. A copy can be downloaded below as a zip file. As far as we are aware, whilst the original typeface Rail Alphabet remains copyrighted, these fonts are free to distribute for personal use.
★ British Rail Light Normal
★ British Rail Dark Normal
Joanna Typeface / Regional Railways era
Regional Railways was one of the three passenger sectors of British Rail created in 1982 (the other two being InterCity and Network SouthEast). Alongside the organisational changes came a new logo and livery.
A unicode version of one of the Joanna typeface fonts is widely available. This provides a reasonable likeness for normal and bold text in replicas of platform notices etc. However, it is not heavy enough for recreating the specially-drawn Regional Railways or ScotRail logos.
If you wish to make up your own logos, you may wish to consider using the Jessica-Serial font. As shown below, this is a fairly close match, but will require bold weighting and alterations to leading, tracking and some individual characters’ horizontal and vertical scales.
A zip file containing the following fonts is available. As far as we are aware, the fonts are free to distribute for personal use:
★ Unicode Joanna
ITC Officina Typeface / Transport Scotland era
In September 2008, the Scottish Government’s transport agency, Transport Scotland, announced that the franchised Scottish rail services would be permanently renamed ScotRail and a new livery would be applied to all of Scotland’s trains and ScotRail-operated stations.
For locomotives, multiple units and rolling stock, the new livery features a dark blue background, with grey doors and a white dotted ‘Saltire’ Scottish flag. For station names and general signage, dark blue becomes the predominant colour and is used alongside a new typeface called ITC Officina.
This ITC Officina font family is widely available for free download and four of its fonts are available here:
★ ITC Officina Std Book
★ ITC Officina Std Book Italic
★ ITC Officina Std Bold
★ ITC Officina Std Bold Italic
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