Exclusive: By Geoff Courtney
THE innovative and eagerly awaited Mail Rail project in central London took a major step forward at the end of October, with the delivery of new trains, which next year will take visitors for the first time through the subterranean depths of a former railway that linked the west of the capital with the east.
It is part of a £26-million transformation of Royal Mail’s Mount Pleasant site near King’s Cross station that will also see the conversion of the railway’s former maintenance and repair depot into an exhibition centre and the creation of a new postal museum.
Mail Rail will be a ride of nearly a mile on part of the former 2ft gauge Post Office Underground Railway that ran for 6½ miles 70ft beneath the streets of London from Paddington in the west to Liverpool Street and Whitechapel Road in the east.
It opened in 1927 and was operated by driverless electric trains moving millions of letters and parcels a day, calling at eight stations that handled mail from central London sorting offices. It never carried members of the public, and indeed many of the capital’s residents and visitors were unaware of its existence, leading to it being dubbed ‘London’s secret railway.’
Read more in Issue 222 of Heritage Railway