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London Post Office Railway

From Academic Kids

The Post Office Railway, also known as Mail Rail, is a narrow gauge driverless private underground railway in London built by the Post Office to move mail between sorting offices. Inspired by the Chicago Freight Subway, it was in operation from 1927 until 2003.

It runs east-west from Paddington Head District Sorting Office in the west to the Eastern Head District Sorting Office at Whitechapel in the east, a distance of 6.5 miles (10.5 km). It has eight stations, but by 2003 only three stations remained in use because the sorting offices above the other stations had been relocated.

A memo leaked in April 2003 revealed that the system would be closed and "mothballed" (i.e. removed from active service) at the end of May that year. Royal Mail had earlier stated that using the Post Office Railway was five times more expensive than using road transport for the same task. The Communication Workers Union claimed the actual figure was closer to three times more expensive but argued that this was the result of a deliberate policy of running the system down and using it at only one-third of its capacity. Despite a report by the Greater London Authority in support of the continued use of Mail Rail, the system was taken out of use in the early hours of 31 May 2003.

See also

External links

  • Brief introduction to the London Post Office Railway (http://homepage.ntlworld.com/c.karslake/mailrail/html/home.html)
  • Detailed information on construction and operation. (http://mikes.railhistory.railfan.net/r023.html)
  • Postal Heritage Trust page on Mail Rail. (http://www.royalmailgroup.com/heritage/english/history/train_mailrail.asp)
  • Guardian article (http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,3604,940742,00.html) on proposed mothballing.
  • GLA report (http://www.london.gov.uk/approot/assembly/reports/pubserv/mailrail.pdf) on the closure in PDF format.
  • This is Local London (http://www.thisislocallondon.co.uk/news/topstories/display.var.301893.0.final_delivery_for_mail_rail.php) news report on the closure.de:Post Office Railway
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