[design] Keep it cool! Alstom & SNCF present the standard livery for TGV M

Alstom and SNCF Voyageurs have presented the new TGV Inoui livery for the TGV M at the Belfort factory—a much-anticipated and important event for the TGV Inoui brand:

It was 29.04.2024, at the Alstom factory in Belfort: a few hand-picked guests, a few photographers, and a presentation on social networks of the new TGV M 1005 trainset, displaying the final “TGV INOUI” commercial livery:

Presentation of the new TGV INOUI 2025 livery at the Alstom factory in Belfort © Préfet du Territoire de Belfort (Twitter)
The commercial TGV M livery, with the black nose and the large TGV INOUI logo on the side © Christophe Fanichet (SNCF/Twitter)

About TGV M unit 1005

As a reminder, several complete trainsets have already been seen: the three pre-series trainsets 996, 997, and 998 (special test livery); 999 without livery and incomplete sections of other series-produced trains (1008, which already had the commercial livery). Unit 1005 is the first complete (known) production trainset with a commercial livery. It is also due to taking several tests over the coming months.

About the livery

To embody its “TGV INOUI 2025”, the SNCF presented a very sober livery, which nevertheless takes up specific codes from the previous livery known as “Carmillon”:

  • A three-tone light grey wave pattern covers the whole train;
  • The doors are ‘French Berry’ red, like on existing TGVs;
  • The top of the nose of the end cars is black, which camouflages dirt; there are no red lines;
  • The end car’s side windows got a little mask, a rounded black triangle;
  • A large TGV INOUI logo in Frenchberry red on the power car;
  • One TGV INOUI and SNCF Voyageurs logo per coach, in ‘French Berry’ red;
  • Small SNCF Voyageurs logos;

Overall, the train looks very bright, almost white. The few touches of red are meant to suggest previous generations. The choice of a light-coloured train is conscious: it is intended to be elegant and sober, with environmental benefits: by reflecting light, it will heat up less quickly in hot weather and consume less energy.

Alternating white, grey and beige; with the red TGV INOUI logos on the first car © Préfet du Territoire de Belfort (Twitter)
The large TGV INOUI logo on each side of the power car, in the ‘French Berry’ red © Préfet du Territoire de Belfort (Twitter)

However, we still recall the launch of the TGV Atlantique. The first train, no. 301, also had a very light livery, almost all white, but the train got dirty quickly. So SNCF changed its mind and opted for grey metallic instead. In 2024, SNCF deliberately turned a blind eye to this problem and again adopted a near-white train for elegance.

Moreover, unlike previous generations, the TGV M will be fully painted. The maintenance cost of stickers is considered too high, and SNCF has decided to change this.

The next stage is the presentation of the interior, which should take place in the Autumn of 2024.

Light colour shades are meant to be less energy-consuming during high-temperature periods, giving this very bright livery © Alstom

Railcolor comment by Simon Wijnakker: Maybe it is old-fashioned, but we live in times when it is needed again: symbolism. Introducing the most important new generation of high-speed trains in Europe could be a moment to give people a chance to be proud of their (tax money pays) latest symbol of comfort, modernity, and safety without getting too political. You could make it iconic and easy to recognise. If you do it right, you can still combine this with your marketing plan and user-friendly experience.

A light colour may be practical and elegant, but it requires a bit more to create a livery that conveys elegance. And a train gives it to you quickly; it is already long, thin, and, in this case, fast, very fast. Emphasize this more by giving it a more horizontal orientation instead of breaking it down into vertical sections. At least try to connect the motor cars and passenger coaches visually.

We would have opted for a design that would have amazed and inspired more people and made it more fabulous. Sure, this may have cost a bit more in paint, cleaning and repair, but that is the price of beauty.