JB RNLI-GWRNamingPaddington23052024-4934

Great Western Railway partners with Royal National Lifeboat Institution to celebrate the charity’s 200th anniversary

Great Western Railway will play safety messages at its stations near popular holiday destinations and has applied a commemorative RNLI 200 livery to a train as part of a special partnership celebrating the Royal National Lifeboat Institution’s 200 years of saving lives at sea.

A special ceremony at London Paddington today saw an RNLI 200 logo unveiled on the side of Intercity Express Train, 802008, which was named after the Penlee lifeboat RNLB Solomon Browne.

Solomon Browne was lost at sea on 19 December 1981 when it launched to rescue the passengers and crew of the vessel Union Star. In all, 16 people died, including eight volunteer lifeboat crew.

Current crew members from the Penlee lifeboat were among the guests at Paddington station.

JB RNLI-GWRNamingPaddington23052024-4834

The RNLI 200 commemorative livery features 172 RNLI locations across the GWR network, stretching from Angle in south-west Wales to Selsey in West Sussex, and from Sennen Cove in Cornwall to Portishead in Bristol.

Following the unveiling, 802008 formed the 1004 service to Penzance. On arrival in the Cornish town, the train was greeted by colleagues and volunteers from the RNLI and GWR, before a cake-cutting ceremony in the first-class lounge.

JB RNLI-GWRNamingPaddington23052024-4606

GWR Customer Services Director Rachel Geliamassi said:

“Much like ourselves, the RNLI has a long and proud history and we wanted to pay our own special thanks to an organisation responsible for saving more than 146,000 lives over the past 200 years.

“The railway celebrates its own 200th anniversary next year and, with the Great Western Railway serving so many fantastic coastal destinations, it is fitting we have been able to form this very special partnership with the RNLI.

“The safety of our customers is always of paramount importance, and we’re pleased to be able to help the RNLI in spreading their safety messages further by reminding people about the dangers of the sea.”

British naturalist, explorer and TV presenter Steve Backshall has recorded the announcements to be played at more than 50 stations across the GWR network. Steve worked with the RNLI’s Water Safety Team to record the announcements that will be played at regular intervals on the station platforms, catching rail users’ attention as they disembark the train, heading towards the coast.

Steve said:

As a family we take every opportunity to enjoy the water, so I have always had an admiration and respect for the RNLI’s lifeboat crews and lifeguards, and everything they do to keep people safe at the coast.

“Catching people as they get off the train is a perfect opportunity to advise and remind them of how they can stay safe while enjoying our wonderful coastline with their friends and family.

“Simple tips such as; head to a lifeguarded beach, swim between the red and yellow flags, and instructions on how to raise the alarm if they see someone in difficulty, and how to help yourself by using the Float to Live technique.”

JB RNLI-GWRNamingPaddington23052024-4780

Adrian Carey, RNLI Head of Region for the south-west, said:

As a charity the RNLI has been saving lives at sea for 200 years, through its rescue service and sharing water safety messages with the public about how to enjoy being on and around the water.

“Kickstarting a long-term partnership with Great Western Railway with the stunning new livery and water safety announcements is an exciting opportunity for the charity to share our important water safety messages with rail users across the GWR network and has the potential to save lives.

“It’s wonderful to have Steve, who is a long-time ambassador for the RNLI, and his sense of adventure and passion for enjoying the outdoors come through as he delivers the important safety announcements. His instantly recognisable voice will be sure to inspire beach goers and water users to take those extra steps to ensure they enjoy their time at the coast safely.”

Penzance 1 Phil Monckton

Contact Information

John Carter

Media and Communications Manager

Great Western Railway

0845 410 4444


Notes to editors

Pictured, from top: The Penlee lifeboat crew alongside the RNLI 200 logo and a tribute to Solomon Browne; the new RNLI 200 logo; Rachel Geliamassi, Adrian Carey and Mark Dowie; lifeboat crew from Penlee, Salcombe, Torbay and Minehead stations; lifeboat and lifeguard colleagues at Penzance station.

RNLB Solomon Browne

802008 commemorates two heroic feats and was named during a poignant ceremony at the Long Rock train depot open day in Penzance on 13 April 2019.

It remembers Solomon Browne, the Penlee Lifeboat lost at sea during a daring rescue attempt in 1981, and Rick Rescorla, a Cornishman who saved thousands of lives during the 9/11 terror attacks in New York.

Solomon Browne was launched to the aid of Union Star after the cargo ship’s engines had failed in heavy seas and wind speeds of up to 100mph.

The lifeboat radioed that ‘we’ve got four off’, but that was the last heard from either vessel.

The names of coxswain William Trevelyan Richards, Stephen Madron, Nigel Brockman, Charles Greenhaugh, John Blewett, Kevin Smith, Barrie Torrie and Gary Wallis feature on the side of the train.

Born in Hayle, Cornwall, Rick Rescorla became a US citizen in the 1960s and was head of security for Morgan Stanley, a bank based in the south tower of the World Trade Center in New York.

When the terror attack happened on 11 September 2001, Rick evacuated more than 2,500 employees, singing Cornish songs as he went. He then returned inside and was last seen on the 10th floor looking for more people to evacuate.

The 62-year-old was one of 2,605 people who died when the two towers collapsed. His body was never recovered.


First Greater Western Limited, trading as “Great Western Railway” (GWR), operates trains across the Great Western franchise area, which includes South Wales, the West Country, the Cotswolds, across southern England and into London. GWR provides high speed, commuter, regional and branch line train services, and before the covid-19 pandemic helped over 100 million passengers reach their destinations every year. GWR has been awarded a National Rail Contract to continue operating the Great Western network, which shall run up to 21 June 2025, with the potential for a further three years at the Secretary of State’s discretion. Find out more here: https://www.gwr.com/about-us  


The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and, in a normal year, more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service.  

RNLI at 200 

On 4 March 2024, the RNLI celebrated 200 years of saving lives at sea – thanks to volunteers giving their time to save others, all funded by voluntary public donations. Throughout its 200th anniversary year, the charity is running events and activities to commemorate its history, celebrate the lifesaving service it provides today, and inspire generations of future lifesavers and supporters. For more information visit RNLI.org/200.  

For more information, please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the RNLI News Centre


Bath Spa
Bodmin Parkway
Bristol Parkway
Exeter Central
Exeter St Davids
Marsh Barton
Nailsea & Backwell
Newton Abbot
St Austell
St Erth
Yeovil Pen Mill