The DB pop colours

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The DB pop colours

From 1970 to 1974, the DB did experiments with new colours. Before, locomotives and cars had been painted in single, dark colours, now a livery with a coloured window band and a bright grey stripe below the windows was supposed to convey a more friendly and modern image.

Express coaches

145 express coaches were built new or repainted in pop colours. The roofs of these cars were umbra grey (RAL 7022), the area under the windows was pebble grey (RAL 7032), the underframes jet black (RAL 9005). Above the lower black stripe, most cars had fine lines in pebble grey and in the colour of the window band. The skirted dining-cars WRge 152 had yet another red line underneath the window band. There were no matching locomotives for the pop coaches.

The pop colour experiment was not lasting long. In 1974, the DB decided for ivory/ocean blue instead. The new livery of 1986 had some similarity to the pop colours of the early 1970s though; now the colours stood for the train categories. From 1996 on, only EC/IC and NachtZug (night train) cars were painted with a window band (in traffic red), and since 2001, only those of NachtZug.

A list of all numbers of the coaches with Pop livery can be found here.

The colours of the window bands

The experimental character of the pop colours becomes apparent from the multitude of colours.

RAL 2002 vermillion: 26 cars

1 Am 202, 4 Am 203, 3 ABm 223, 17 ABm 225, 1 ABwmz 227

Vermillion was chosen to be eye-catching enough for first class and first/second class cars. Some of these cars were delivered new in pop colours. The prototype ABwmz 227 was of unpainted stainless steel with vermillion window band.

RAL 3004 purple red: 17 cars

1 WRmh 132, 5 WRge 152, 6 WLABmh 174, 5 BRbumz 285

For a long time, purple red had been the colour of the Mitropa and DSG for sleeping and dining cars. It was used for several dining cars (mostly of the pre-war type WRge 152), sleeping and buffet cars.

RAL 4002 red violet: 3 cars

3 Bcm 243

For couchette cars, no agreement could be found; the colours cobalt blue, blue lilac and red violet were used.

RAL 4005 blue lilac: 2 cars

2 Bcm 243

RAL 5013 cobalt blue: 85 cars

1 Am 203, 7 Bm 232, 1 Bm 233, 68 Bm 234, 1 Bwmz 237, 1 Bcm 243, 1 Bcmk 255, 4 BDms 273, 1 Dms 902

A cobalt blue window band was used as the livery for a whole train as well as the livery for 2nd class cars. As the compartment cars Bm 234 were just being delivered at that time, a whole series of these cars were painted in cobalt blue/pebble grey in factory. Before, cobalt blue had been the colour of fast electric locomotives and first class cars. The prototype Bwmz 237 was of unpainted stainless steel with cobalt blue window band.

RAL 6020 chrome green: 12 cars

1 Am 202, 1 ABm 223, 1 Bm 232, 1 Bm 239, 8 Dm 902

A short train was painted with a chrome green window band. Afterwards, this colour was used for several luggage cars Dm 902. Before, chrome green had been the colour of slower electric locomotives and many coaches of various types.


Two new classes of DMU and EMU were delivered in the period of the pop colours. The first series of the DMU class 614/914 was in pop colours with a window band in vermillion (RAL 2002). The second series was painted in ivory/ocean blue, but some trains still have the original colours vermillion/pebble grey.

The urban EMUs class 420/421 were originally presented in three different liveries, also in the arrangement of the pop colours. The variant with a window band in pure orange (RAL 2004) became the new standard for AC S-Bahn trains until the 1980s, and was also used for the "x" cars for locomotive hauled S-Bahn trains, as well as for a number of electric locomotives class 111. The variant with a window band in purple red (RAL 3004) was meant to be used in Frankfurt, however only one train was painted like that. For Mnchen, the first series of class 420/421 were painted with a window band in green blue (RAL 5001), which was later replaced by orange, however still a few trains are operating with the original blue window band.