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Najbrt is nice

Aktualisiert: 28. Apr 2020

Najbrt! What sounds like a tongue-twister or a "buy a vowel" word structure from the Wheel of Fortune gameshow in English, is actually a renown design studio in Prague. Established by typographer and frontman Aleš Najbrt in 1994, the studio created a nationwide splash with the Ostrava!!! tripple exclamation point logo and visual identity for the namesake city in 2009.

Already a year earlier, Najbrt had been tasked with overhauling the somewhat stale and outdated visual appearance of České dráhy (Czech Railways). This was a follow-up to Najbrt's previous assignment of creating a brand-new corporate identity for the spin-off ČD Cargo. For both ČD Cargo and ČD's passenger business, Najbrt's lead designer was Petr Štěpán and in both instances the primary visual concept was based on different layers of light and dark blue.

This new livery was applied to many of ČD Cargo's vintage electric and diesel locomotives and to most of the passenger rolling stock over the course of several years. Only some older DMU's were not proactively repainted in these new "house colors" of the Czech Railways.

While the Najbrt concept is primarily horizontal for ČD Cargo, diagonal lines were also applied to passenger vehicles, as seen below on a Class 242 electric in Plzeň, coupled up to coaches with the old white and olive green livery that Najbrt's paint scheme eventually replaced wholesale.

The trapezoid-shaped color blocks on the side of the vintage 1960s or 70s locomotives looked a bit out of place though, while the emphasis on the color white made them more prone to dirt and grime.

By 2011, a horizontal replacement scheme was therefore introduced by Najbrt, which also made predominant use of light blue rather than white. Since then, this template has taken precedence, although the trapezoid patterns were never replaced or re-painted and still remain in use.

ČD's updated horizontal locomotive livery was showcased on this "Goggle" type diesel locomotive at the Czech Raildays trade fair in Ostrava in June 2012, before the concept was broadly applied to the fleet.

As seen from this picture taken at Brno hl. n. in February 2020, both the trapezoid (left) and horizontal (right) Najbrt livery for ČD passenger locomotives remain in widespread use around the country.

For the latest EMUs, such as this InterPanter train, the diagonal lines do look more naturally fitting and stylistically appropriate, although they are only in use for the front-end of the vehicle, while the rest of the carriage body has horizontal color distribution.

In short, in the Czech Republic, the term Najbrt has become synonymous with ČD's blue and white trains. Even in neighboring countries, the name has become recognizable among railway enthusiasts. Compared to ČD's drab olive green and white color concept from the mid 1990s, the Najbrt livery is definitely fresh and modern, even 12 years after its launch.

The RegioNova DMUs have been among the last vehicles to receive the Najbrt livery. This photo from April 2020 shows both the newer blue and white version and behind it the original yellow and green sheme from the early 2000s.

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