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KMRC Skrifa – The 'Epoch' or 'Era' system explained

The model railway hobby has for a while been using the ‘Epoch’ or ‘Era’ system to group models into a defined time period. There is no standard system as such, and the grouped time periods varies slightly not just between manufacturers but also geographically e.g. between mainland Europe or North America or the UK. In this post we take a look at the UK time periods and the 'Era' system now being used by manufacturers and ourselves within the product descriptions. 

The UK eras commence with the birth of railways in the early 1800s and the ‘Railway Mania’ that followed on from the Liverpool and Manchester Railway Act in 1826. The plethora or railway companies were ‘Grouped’; in 1923 into the ‘Big Four’ most recognisable companies, the Southern Railway, the London Midland and Scottish Railway, the London and North Eastern Railway, and the Great Western Railway.

Nationalisation occurred in 1948 with the formation of British Railways and this has subsequent gone through many changes that started with Sectorisation then Privatisation and the current Railway Franchising and operators.

The table below shows these Eras as defined by Bachmann and Hornby (as there are slight variations between them).

Era
Bachmann Era - date ranges      
Hornby Era - date ranges
Description
1
Pioneering
1804 - 1875 
1804 - 1869 
Pioneering - Railway Mania 
2
Pre Grouping
1875 - 1922 
1870 - 1922
Pre - Grouping - many companies -  such as:
GWR, LSWR, LBSC, Midland, North Eastern, Great Eastern, LNWR Caledonian, Great Central, Somerset & Dorset to name a but a few.  
3
The Big Four
1923 - 1947 
1923 - 1947 
Grouping - The Big Four -  the Southern Railway, the London Midland and Scottish Railway,
the London and North Eastern Railway, and the Great Western Railway
(plus a small number of joint railways).
4
BR Early Emblem
1948 - 1956
1947 - 1956 
Nationalisation - British Railways - Initial 'British Railways' lettering and the early lion and wheel Emblem
5
BR Late Crest
1957 - 1966
1956 - 1968
British Railways - Late rampant lion and wheel crest - early green diesels 
6
BR Blue Pre TOPS
1967 - 1971
1969 - 1971
British Railways - Blue - Pre TOPS numbers 
7
BR Blue TOPS
1971 - 1982
1971 - 1986
British Railways - Blue - TOPS numbering era
8
BR Sectorisation
1982 - 1994
1982 - 1997
British Railways - Sectorisation - such as:
InterCity, Regional Railways, Network South East, Railfreight (Coal, Petroleum,
Metals and Construction), Trainload and Rail Express Systems. 
9
Post Privatisation
1995 - 2006 
1996 - 2008 
Post Privatisation - such as:
English Welsh & Scottish (EWS), Freightliner, Load Haul, Great Western Railway,
Midland Main Line, West Coast, Chiltern Lines, Network SouthCentral, Thameslink,
West Anglia Great Northern, Anglia Railways, Scotrail, South Western Railway
10
Network Franchising (TOCs)
2006 - 2017
2006 - 2017
Network Franchising (Train Operating Companies) such as:
South West Trains, First Great Western, Chiltern Railway, Virgin East Coast (GNER),
Virgin West Coast, East Midlands Trains
11
Current Operators
2014 - onwards   
2014 - onwards 
Current Day Operators - such as:
Great Western Railway, Avanti West Coast, East Midlands Railway, Cross Country,
Great Northern, Greater Anglia, LNER, Southern, South Western Railway,
South Eastern, Scotrail, Transpennine Express, West Midlands Railway.


It should always be noted that Era information is provided as a guide to the time period when a model or livery would have been seen. Normally the era has started at the date of a significant change in the industry such as Grouping in 1923 Nationalisation in 1948, or in livery policy for example by British Railways in 1956.

Since Sectorisation for example the date range of the Eras means that they include an era for every livery change. As with any modelling activity you should always conduct your own research and ideally work from dated photographs of a particular prototype that you want to recreate.

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