A train that’ll regularly call at the home of the UK’s spy centre, GCHQ has been named after the World War Two codebreaker, Alan Turing.
The Great Western Railway (GWR) train will regularly call at Cheltenham Spa station, about a 20-minute walk from GCHQ’s famous doughnut shaped headquarters building where modern code breakers expand the legacy set by Alan Turing at Bletchley Park during WWII.
Alan Turning was not just a legendary code breaker and mathematician, he was gay at a time when that was illegal, and tragically took his own life after being convicted. Therefore, the train that’s been named after him is also the GWR’s Trainbow train, the one with the rainbow flag for gay rights. The trainbow has also been updated to reflect changing times, and now includes 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.
Intercity Express Train is also train number 800008, which pays a nod to the WWII codebreakers and their mastery of palindromes. And, as you might expect with something related to Alan Turing, there’s a code/cypher hidden in the letters that fill the trainbow.
The naming ceremony was planned to take place in 2020 on the 75th anniversary of VE Day as part of a wider naming of trains after wartime heroes, but Turing’s train was delayed by the pandemic, and it was only this week that all the parties involved were able to come together.
Included in the naming ceremony were two of Alan’s nieces, and Inagh Payne, speaking on behalf of the family, said “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.”
Following the launch of a campaign in 2009, Alan Turning was granted a posthumous royal pardon four years in 2013. A subsequent legal amendment, known as ‘Turing’s Law’, pardoned 65,000 other convicted gay and bisexual men.
GWR first unveiled the trainbow livery in 2018, and it has been adopted by a number of other train companies.
Reflecting on the addition of the trans colours, Plymouth City Councillor, and the first trans Councillor, Dylan Tippetts said that it’s an important symbol of the batter being fought today for trans rights, and that newspaper headlines today are invoking the same fears as they did in the 1980s about gay men, but today it’s trans rights.
He added though that the trainbow is one of “the things that bring us together and not those that divide us”
The naming ceremony took place at Paddington station, not far from where Alan Turing was born, and was broadcast on GWR’s Facebook page here.