The Age of the Train

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The Age of the Train
Langstone - GWR 43002 down Royal Duchy.JPG
The InterCity 125 train
AgencyAllen, Brady & Marsh
ClientBritish Rail
MarketUnited Kingdom
Release date(s)1980
  • "This is the Age of the Train"
Written byRod Allen
Followed by"We're getting there"

"The Age of the Train" was a television advertising campaign in the United Kingdom created by British Rail in the late-1970s to promote its InterCity rail travel service. The adverts were presented by DJ and BBC presenter Jimmy Savile and featured the then-new InterCity 125 high-speed train.[1]


Although a state-owned corporation at the time, British Rail was under pressure to operate on a more commercial basis. In attempt to revive its loss-making business, BR chairman Sir Peter Parker commissioned a series of commercials from Peter Marsh of the advertising agency Allen, Brady and Marsh (ABM).[2][3] The agency reportedly won the pitch to BR by keeping their visiting executives waiting for a long time in a dirty room surrounded by overflowing ashtrays and coffee-stained furniture; after the executives' patience came to an end and they were about to leave in disgust, Marsh entered the room to greet them, explaining that their treatment had been a ruse to illustrate the customer experience of BR, and that his agency would be able put it right.[4][5]

The reason Savile was selected to front the advertising campaign, was because at the time, he was perceived as being both a popular and family-friendly television personality.[6] The slogan, "This is the Age of the Train", is credited to the advertising executive Rod Allen, also of ABM.[7]

The advertisements continued to be produced until 1984, when they were replaced with a new campaign based on the slogan, "We're getting there".[1] In 2012, during the Jimmy Savile sexual abuse scandal, it was alleged by a former BR lawyer that the decision to drop Savile from the adverts had been made due to suspicions he was a necrophiliac.[8]


  • "The Age of the Train". The Age of the Train. 13 September 2012. BBC. BBC Four. Retrieved 2 July 2016.
  1. ^ a b Moran, Joe (2008). Queuing for Beginners the Story of Daily Life from Breakfast to Bedtime. London: Profile Books. p. 27. ISBN 9781847650658.
  2. ^ "How Jimmy Savile helped revive rail travel 30 years ago". BBC News. 20 September 2012. Archived from the original on 3 November 2012. Retrieved 30 June 2016.
  3. ^ "TV Commercials". Southern Railway Publicity. Archived from the original on 1 April 2016. Retrieved 30 June 2016.
  4. ^ Williams, Luke (2011). "5. Making a Disruptive Pitch". Disrupt: think the unthinkable to spark transformation in your business (1. print. ed.). Upper Saddle River, N.J.: FT Press. p. 151. ISBN 9780137025145.
  5. ^ "Obituary: Peter Marsh". Herald Scotland. 19 April 2016. Retrieved 1 July 2016.
  6. ^ manager, Tanya Jackson ; foreword by Chris Green, former British Rail (2013). "2. Some sort of an Organisation". British Railways The Nation's Railway. Stroud: The History Press. ISBN 9780752497426.
  7. ^ "Rod Allen, Advertising 'jingle king'". the Independent. 13 September 2007. Retrieved 30 June 2016.
  8. ^ Faull, Jennifer (26 November 2012). "The ad that was axed when British Rail heard rumours Savile was a necrophiliac". The Drum. Archived from the original on 3 July 2015. Retrieved 30 June 2016.

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