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For the August 1985 edition of Railway Digest, 'Candy' livery designer Phil Belbin wrote a fascinating account of the development and implementation of the then-new colour scheme.
The article and accompanying images are reproduced here with the kind permission
of the publishers, the
Australian Railway Historical Society (NSW Div).

State Rail's Candy colour scheme is three years old this month. Designer of the livery, Phil Belbin, outlines the behind-the-scenes developments prior to its introduction and lists the motive power now adorned in these colours.


The Candy Colour styling had its origins in 1980. At Comeng, John Dunn was in charge of the concept design of the XPT, including exterior styling and colour scheme. I was asked by John to produce a colour illustration of the train in royal blue and gold as shown in his original layouts.

The then Public Transport Commission asked Comeng to prepare alternative schemes using reds and browns as the dominating colour. Between us, John and I produced some 50 different colour suggestions from which the State Rail Authority's (as the rail arm of the PTC had now become) Chief Executive, David Hill, made his choice in September 1980. The selected livery was then painted by John as a 1:25 scale side elevation in order to correctly proportion the various colour bands to suit the dimensions, shape and aesthetics of the XPT design.

This whole project was a radical departure from the traditional colour treatment of NSW trains and established an entirely new image. So successful was the visual impact of the XPT on the public that the SRA Executive decided to revamp the whole of their locomotive and passenger rolling stock fleet with an entirely new paint scheme.


In the latter part of 1981, the SRA appointed me to this even more formidable project. Changing the image of the entire fleet, and particularly, making one concept conform to such a diverse collection of equipment was a real challenge.

Under the direction of the Chief Executive, David Hill, and the Chief Mechanical Engineer, John Brew, meetings of those to be involved were held and preliminary details ironed out. For all of us, the prime concern was safety and accordingly the front-end treatment for locomotives and railcars was given considerable attention.

The original NSW Indian Red with yellow whiskers livery, introduced with the 42 class in late 1955 (diesels prior to that wore a green livery like express passenger steam locomotives), was unwittingly a perfect camouflage, and the yellow-nose reverse scheme applied from 1979 to 1982, derived from Great Britain and ideal in that lush green landscape, was less than satisfactory in the yellow tones of the Central West and Riverina districts in summer.


Some 120 colour concepts were prepared and opinions were invited from all levels of the SRA's staff and the general public at large. Four of those proposals are illustrated opposite. Figure 1 shows a scheme that found some favour with those of a more traditional mind featuring a predominance of Tuscan Red with a thick orange band and lesser bands of yellow and white. In many ways this livery is very similar to the scheme that was finally chosen. In Figure 2 the accent was on blues with yellow relieving bands separating the tones. The safety aspect of this livery was provided by having white around the windscreen and on the pilot with yellow in the number-box area. This scheme I personally quite liked. Figure 3 shows an all-green livery punctuated with white bands which found favour in an unexpected quarter, while Figure 4 displays a brown, white and orange scheme similar to that applied to British Rail's Advanced Passenger Train. In all cases, these proposals are shown on a side elevation of a 442 class locomotive. Other schemes not shown included an all white body with red and black bands which, I recall, was favoured by one senior executive, while the XPT power car livery was also mooted, it being rejected as not being compatible with all the locomotive classes.

I recall a discussion in the Executive Suite on the latest batch of designs when the tea lady appeared with refreshments. David Hill spread the drawings over the carpet and earnestly sought her opinion. Being of the Irish persuasion, the livery she picked was a foregone conclusion.

The combinations were seemingly infinite but gradually the choice was narrowed to about half a dozen. Models were made and painted, and full size mock-up side panels constructed. Colour experts were lurking at every corner, poised to pounce and condemn any scheme that looked more up-to-date than a black 38 on a HUB set (my personal favourite, incidentally). Finally the nod of approval was given to the Candy Coloured livery, also known in some quarters as the "Lollipop" scheme.

I always liked the term "Candy Colours". It conjures up images of brightness, sweetness and pleasure, and in an increasingly depressing world a spot of colour in a drab landscape can help to elevate the spirits.
My only reservation with this basically red livery was the poor record of bright reds for permanence. With this in mind, the SRA 's Redfern laboratories conducted a very thorough series of weathering tests, eventually recommending polyurethane red with acceptable durability.

There is a tendency in some areas of railway colour styling to have disruptive logos and staccato lines doing a St. Vitus' dance all over the train. I hoped a smooth flow of colour throughout the train would create the illusion of a single unit and avoid such fragmentation or the line. To achieve this I made a detailed study of all the locomotives and cars to be treated. The position of the colour bars was critical, as was the necessity to include the white band in each case. The latter was a vital safety factor; however dirty the white band may be, it is still more obvious than any other colour.

Locating the orange and yellow bands required a lot of research in order to have them lie correctly over and around the varied shapes of the different locomotive and carriage classes, and yet leave space for the numerals. When the height of the bands was finally decided, it was found necessary to vary the chosen dimensions from the norm on units such as rail tractors.

All the measurements of the Candy Colour scheme are taken from the railhead with the black extending to a height of 1,168 mm, followed by the 356 mm white band finishing at 1,524 mm, then the orange being 264 mm thick and reaching a height of 1,788 mm while finally the narrow 75 mm yellow band finished 1,863 mm above the rails.

The rest of the body was finished in red to the roof line, the roof itself originally to be painted silver, but this was to last only on carriages with the locomotive's roofs varying with white, grey and all over red being applied depending on the particular class.

A most obvious area for improvement lay in the numeral size and style of typeface, both of which were extremely dated. Again these had to be compatible with the locomotives and cars, and flexible enough to adapt to all configurations of area available. I based the face on Compacta Bold, but restyled all numbers to suit the job.

The original logo appeared to indicate take off and landing as much as horizontal travel and so this was updated with a more modern shape. To be ruthless is a virtue in a project of this kind. Restyling the Silver City Comet's nameboard for example; or, cutting off the NSW crest and mounting from the nose of 442 class units in order to accommodate the new large numbers.


For each locomotive and carriage class a colour drawing was made of its front and side elevations. The SRA Drawing Office then produced detailed drawings for distribution to the various paint shops.

The first item of rolling stock to see the light of day in the new Candy Colours was air-conditioned
economy class car SFS 2277, towed out of Eveleigh Carriage Works by their all-yellow rail tractor X201 in mid-July 1982, and I must admit this car took years off my life expectancy. To begin with, something was radically wrong with the red. A garish pink hue had emerged due, we later learned, to a problem batch of paint. My depression was diluted momentarily by the 100 decibel disapproval of an enraged railfan workshops employee of large physique and menacing disposition.

Things now began to move reasonably quickly with a number of items of rolling stock being repainted for the official press release, and at 11.30 on 17.8.82 locomotive 44100, along with passenger cars FH 2230, SFS 2277, TFX 1935, MHS 819 and brakevan MHO 2636 were unveiled to the public at Sydney Terminal's platform 5. While some of my fellow enthusiasts found it difficult to accept such a complete change, the scheme received general approval from the public and the press. Even those who did not particularly care for the scheme felt it was preferable to the previous livery. Since then there has been a growing acceptance and interest in the Candy Colours.

When first implemented, it was proposed that some 49 locomotives would be repainted by the end of 1982, with 174 reliveried by the end of 1983. At this stage it was proposed that the 42 class would be repainted even though it was obvious to many that the class was on its last legs.

CPH railmotors were also considered but it was suggested at the time that the painting capacity would be better utilised on other railcars and main line carriages. For one fleeting moment single-deck suburban cars were also suggested but in the end this also was not to be.

The suburban suggestion did not fall totally on deaf ears though, for it was not long before the decision was taken to extend the styling to the double-deck suburban fleet. A. Goninan and Company Limited of Broadmeadow, who were (and still are) currently engaged in building new suburban cars, commissioned me to style the first car's livery and this was duly approved by the SRA. The ends of these cars had always been utilitarian in appearance and the new paintwork created quite a favourable transformation (see the front cover of the March 1985, Railway Digest). This design has since been progressively applied to new interurban power cars being supplied by Comeng.


Early in 1984, the SRA invited me to submit a preliminary styling concept for a new generation of double-deck suburban cars. During the first week of March 1984 the colour drawings were unveiled to the public. The colour treatment for this proposal was again used in May 1985 on the Goninan's submission for the new generation cars, known as "Tangaras" (see page 160, June, Railway Digest).

As the painting programme progresses, the present unavoidably heterogeneous colour combinations will gradually disappear. I hope the uniformity of the original concept will then become more apparent.
Following is a list of locomotives and railcars that have received the new livery as at 30.6.85.


42101 7.9.83
42102 9.1.85


42208 16.8.83
42209 10.8.84
42210 9.9.83
42211 6.3.84
42213 5.3.84
42214 10.2.83
42216 17.6.85
42218 28.4.83
42219 1.2.85*


4403 31.12.82
4415 10.11.82
4424 1.11.82
4460 21.2.83
4461 8.3.85
4464 24.4.85
4492 28.1.83
4496 25.7.83
4499 8.4.83
44100 14.8.82


44201 18.9.84
44202 -23.11.84 44203 25.6.84
44207 12.10.84 44237 9.6.83
44238 11.3.83
44239 3.1.84
44240 29.10.82


4503 22.9.83
4504 2.12.82*
4506 .29.7.83
4510 20.11.84
4512 31.7.84
4514 15.8.83*
4515 27.10.83
4516 13.1.83*
4517 12.4.84

4518 11.1.85*
4519 9.12.83
4521 25.11.83*
4527 27.4.84*
4534 10.8.84*
4535 6.6.85*
4539 16.3.84


4607 2.3.83*
4608 7.10.83*
4612 11.1.84*
4613 5.9.84*
4615 29.3.85*
4617 30.6.85
4625 29.5.84*
4627 26.2.85*


4701 1..11.84
4703 21.6.85
4704 25.1.84
4708 16.7.84
4714 26.4.85
4720 5.4.84


4808 7.2.83*
4811 6.9.84*
4827 15.8.84*
4833 18.11.82*
4834 8.11.83*
4838 2.7.84*
4839 16.12.83*
4841 4.9.84*
4842 6.6.85*
4844 3.8.83*
4845 14.9.82*
4874 9.5.83*
4875 18.3.83*
48100 22.2.85*
48103 2.9.82*
48106 6.6.83*

48107 24.9.82*
48108 24.5.83*
48110 8.2.83*
48112 2.4.83*
48115 18.8.83*
48117 13.12.82*
48119 3.3.83*
48120 7.3.85*
48121 27.10.82*
48124 20.7.83*
48125 24.9.82*
48126 12.1.83*
48127 9.8.83*
48128 30.8.83*
48129 24.11.83*
48130 10.2.84*
48132 13.7.84*
48133 11.10.83*
48134 8.8.84*
48135 8.11.83*
48136 22.12.83*
48137 21.1.84*
48138 16.5.84*
48139 8.11.84*
48140 18.4.84*
48141 8.3.84*
48142 11.10.84*
48143 27.3.84*
48145 7.5.84*
48147 21.1.85*
48148 14.12.84*
48149 20.11.84*
48151 1.6.84*
48156 17.12.84*
48157 17.4.85*


4903 16.12.83*
4908 13.9.84*
4909 8.6.84*
4912 14.5.85*
4913 12.12.84*


7007 7.83


7315 9.82
7335 21.9.84*
7336 12.10.84*


X101 3.85


X203 3.83


8101 - 8169


8601 - 8644



101 22.12.82


604/704 10.4.84
606/706 6.4.84


622 6.12.84
623/723 19.10.84
625/725 19.4.84
626/726 22.2.84
627/727 28.5.85
628/728 21.9.82
629 30.1.85
630/730 8.9.83
631/731 11.4.84
632/732 18.6.85
635/735 9.8.83
637/737 29.3.85
638/738 11.4.84


661/761 4.9.84
665/765 6.3.85
668/768 23.11.84
670/770 9.3.83


901 14.12.84
903 11.3.83
904 28.11.83  
908 11.3.83
909 28.6.83
951 16.11.82
953 10.8.84
954 25.9.84
955 6.2.85
956 9.11.83
957 20.4.83
958 9.8.83
959 5.6.84


801 26.4.83
802 10.8.84
803 6.10.83
851 2.12.82
852 5.6.84
853 27.5.85
854 3.6.83
855 16.8.83/11.4.85
856 20.7.83
857 22.11.83
861 31.10.84
862 21.2.83

* Denotes painting date.
Otherwise ex Gen. O/H.
©Belbin Video Pty Ltd - ABN 54 085 323 351