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GWR honours WWII codebreaker Alan Turing and unveils new ‘Trainbow’ livery

Great Western Railway (GWR) has honoured World War Two codebreaker Alan Turing by including his name on its popular ‘Trainbow’ Intercity Express Train.

Members of Alan’s family officially named the train at London Paddington station today (Thursday 26 May). The ceremony also saw the unveiling of GWR’s new ‘Trainbow’ livery celebrating the LGBTQ+ community.

Alan famously led a team in ‘Hut 8’ at the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) at Bletchley Park, Britain’s codebreaking centre during the war.

In 1942 he and his team cracked the vitally important and most difficult German Naval Enigma. His work in the field of computer science was groundbreaking and paved the way for modern computing.

Alan is also an admired role model within the LGBTQ+ community and his legacy has helped change social attitudes in Britain.

Although laws during the 1950s made it illegal for him to be openly gay, Alan did not shy away from his sexuality. He was arrested for gross indecency which resulted in a sentence of chemical castration.

Two years later Alan died of cyanide poisoning. Following the launch of an internet campaign in 2009, he was granted a posthumous royal pardon four years later. A subsequent legal amendment, known as ‘Turing’s Law’, pardoned 65,000 other convicted gay and bisexual men.

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‘Trainbow’ was first unveiled in 2018 to support Pride events across the network and demonstrate GWR’s support for the LGBTQ+ community.

Its livery has now been updated to include black, brown, light blue, light pink and white, bringing focus on inclusion for trans individuals, marginalised people of colour and those living with HIV/AIDS.

For B-roll footage of today's ceremony please email john.carter1@gwr.com

Intercity Express Train 800008 also pays a nod to the World War Two codebreakers and their mastery of palindromes. And, as you might expect with something related to Alan Turing, there is more to the design of the new livery than first meets the eye.

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Alan’s niece, Inagh Payne, speaking on behalf of the family, said:

“Alan was very special to us and we are so incredibly proud of everything he did. Despite not being fond of neither fuss nor social occasions, he would have been delighted to have a train named after him.

“We have our own fond memories of him as a loving and caring uncle and it is wonderful to see this tribute to him, and that he is remembered, and his life celebrated by so many people.”

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GWR Managing Director, Mark Hopwood, said:

“It is an honour for us at GWR to name this Intercity Express Train after Alan Turing as we continue to remember those who gave so much during World War Two.

“We at Great Western Railway have a long history of naming trains after Great Westerners, the past and present heroes from across our network.

“It is also great to see this fabulous new Trainbow livery, celebrating not only Alan Turing but also the LGBTQ+ community across the GWR and indeed our colleagues within the rail industry.”

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Plymouth City Councillor for Compton, Cllr Dylan Tippetts, said:

"Thank you so much to GWR for always standing with the whole LGBTQ+ community and celebrating our diversity; the things that bring us together and not those that divide us."

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Research Historian at Bletchley Park, Dr David Kenyon, said:

"It gives me great pleasure to add the endorsement of Bletchley Park Trust to the naming of this locomotive. We hope that it will remind travellers of Turing himself, but also of the thousands of others who worked alongside him to bring signals intelligence to Allied commanders and help bring victory in the Second World War."

GCHQ Historian Dr David Abrutat said:  

"Turing’s scientific genius helped to shorten the war and influence the technology we still use today. Today illustrates his status as one of the most iconic LGBT+ figures in the world.   

“Turing was embraced for his brilliance and persecuted for being gay. His legacy is a reminder of the value of embracing all aspects of diversity, but also the work we still need to do to become truly inclusive.”

Contact Information

John Carter

Media and Communications Manager

Great Western Railway

0845 410 4444

07715 040424

John.Carter1@gwr.com

Notes to editors

GWR is commemorating remarkable individuals involved in the Second World War.

In 2020 it marked 75 years since VE Day by honouring Odette Hallowes, a French citizen who lived in London and on the Devon/Somerset border. Odette became a Special Operations Executive (SOE) and is the most highly-decorated spy of the war.

D-Day veteran Harry Billinge was honoured at an emotional ceremony at Penzance station in October 2020. Harry said having a train named after him would remind people of the fine men who fought on 6 June 1944, some of whom never returned home. Harry sadly passed away in April this year, aged 96.

The family of Cpl George Sheard were present as the ‘Cockleshell Hero’ was honoured at Plymouth station in October 2020. Cpl Sheard was among a group of young Royal Marines who volunteered for hazardous service planting mines on enemy ships off southwestern France. He drowned in the daring mission, aged 27.

In May 2021 Bomber Command pilot Ken Rees was honoured at Swansea station. Wing Commander Rees played a vital part in the ‘Great Escape’ from German prisoner-of-war camp Stalag Luft III, helping to dig the tunnel from which a daring escape was made in March 1944.

Tulbahadur Pun VC was recognised for the part he played in the war in the far east. His son and daughter were both present in June 2021 to officially name the train along with actress and Vice Patron of The Gurkha Welfare Trust, Joanna Lumley.

PICTURES FROM TOP

1 Alan's nieces Janet Robinson, left, and Inagh Payne
2 Celebrating the new Trainbow livery and GWR's support for the LGBTQ+ community
3 Janet Robinson's painted sketch of the new livery
4 An up-close view of the new livery
5 Cllr Dylan Tippetts
6 Dr David Abrutat, left, and Dr David Kenyon

Pictures by Jack Boskett

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 was awarded an extension to its direct award franchise (called DA3), which shall run up to 31 March 2023, with an option to extend for a further year.