Published on July 29th, 2015 | by admin
Mail Rail Is Back On Track
Little known to most us, there is a disused railway tunnel in London that stretches for several miles. Known originally as the London Post Office Railway existing deep under the streets of the capital, the Mail Rail as it became known from 1987 onwards, played an integral role in transporting millions of packaging and mailing items across London.
In fact during the heyday of the London Post Office Railway, we learn that its driverless trains carried 12 million postal items daily on the line stretching from Whitechapel in East London all the way to Paddington to the west of the city.
World renowned railway
Operating for 19 hours every day, the Mail Rail was recognised as one of the most successful railways in the world having first opened in time for the 1927 Christmas mail surge and was the world’s only electric underground railway dedicated to moving mail from one location to another.
Post Office (London) Railway Bill
In light of the fog and congested streets which made moving mail from one location to another in London extremely problematic, a Government Departmental Committee set up in 1911 recommended the construction of a railway below the streets of London.
Three years after construction began in 1914, the tunneling work was finished but due to the First World War, the Mail Rail wasn’t actually operational until 5th December 1927. However the constructed tunnels did have a use in the interim – to store valuable works of art normally housed at the National Portrait Gallery and the Tate Gallery.
Museum plans to re-open the line as a heritage attraction
The financial viability of the Mail Rail eventually led to its closure in 2003 but now the British Postal Museum & Archive hopes to open the underground railway once again and is planning to open a new museum near Mount Pleasant station and convert a section of the line into a ride by 2016.
Known simply as The Postal Museum, it is expected to chart the story of the Post Office and the Royal Mail dating back almost 400 years from the reign of King Charles I right through to the present day.
So watch this space!