Muscat Daily - - BREAK -

For 76 years, start­ing from 1927, the Lon­don Post Of­fice op­er­ated a fleet of driver­less elec­tric trains that scut­tled around pairs of nar­row gauge rails deep un­der the ground haul­ing mails be­tween var­i­ous sort­ing of­fices.

The Mail Rail ran from the 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. In be­tween, it had eight sta­tions, the largest of which was un­der­neath Mount Pleas­ant. At its peak, the Mail Rail op­er­ated for 22 hours a day and car­ried 4mn pieces of mail in a sin­gle day.

The un­der­ground rail­way was built to cir­cum­vent the mas­sive road traf­fic con­ges­tion of the early 1900s that was caus­ing un­ac­cept­able de­lays in mov­ing mails from one sort­ing of­fice to an­other. Un­til 2003, it was the beat­ing heart of Lon­don’s postal ser­vice. The sys­tem was even­tu­ally closed be­cause its op­er­a­tion cost had be­come far too much for the Royal Mail to bear. Us­ing the rail­way, they said, was five times more ex­pen­sive than us­ing road trans­port for the same task.

The Mail Rail is set to open again in Septem­ber, but this time it will move peo­ple in­stead of mail. When Mail Rail opens to the pub­lic in a few months, visi­tors will be able to take a 20 minute ride on 1km of cir­cu­lar track, sit­ting on new wag­ons de­signed to ac­com­mo­date peo­ple in­stead of mails.

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