Royal Mail Post by Train

Discussion in 'UK Railway Discussion' started by bcarmicle, 8 Aug 2018.

  1. Highlandspring

    Highlandspring Member

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    The class 325s came about as part of the huge “Railnet” project in 1995/96 which modernised the Royal Mail railway operations in partnership with Rail Express Systems (by then part of EWS) and Railtrack. I’ve got a very interesting booklet about the project from 1996 but at 14 pages it’s a bit long to upload here in full. The main aims of Railnet were to introduce distribution of presorted mail in York Containers, which were/are the standard Royal Mail cage trolly, automation and mechanisation to minimise handling, dispensing with loose mailbags except on TPO services and ending the use of ordinary passenger trains to distribute mail. The whole point of the class 325s was to carry York Containers exclusively, no loose bags and no personnel*. There was a lot of invesment - £150 million at 1996 prices - in new dedicated terminals and York handling equipment, new and refurbished rolling stock (including the 16 class 325 units) and it was a 10 year contract running from September 1996 to September 2006.


    *Although interestingly the 325s do have a PA system, which the original Adtranz Operating Manual suggests should be used to ressassure anyone trapped on board while the train is moving and instruct them not to try to open the roller shutter doors. There isn’t a passcomm but there is a motion detector system which was intended to detect a person on board the train (accidentally or intentionally) after the doors are shut. In practice it is far, far better at detecting wobbling York trollies, which is why almost every class 325 you see moving will have the blue hazard lights illuminated showing that the motion detector system has been triggered.
     
  2. michael74

    michael74 Member

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    Certainly from Scilly to the mainland the mail bags went on the ferry to Penzance then onto a wagon, but thinking about it, it may have gone again on a flight to Orkney from Inverness, its been a while since I watched it.
     
  3. InterCity:125

    InterCity:125 Member

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    There’s this magical invention called a ferry:
    34FAC36D-0548-45F3-A530-69B04B3639C1.jpeg
    Here’s the one for the Scillies.
    B2005461-59A7-4EAC-9E35-D6D8977937B6.jpeg
    And the orkneys.
     
  4. Tim R-T-C

    Tim R-T-C Established Member

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    Wow, learnt something new, thanks.
     
  5. Stampy

    Stampy Member

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    The major RM hub in the Midlands is NDC (National Distribution Centre) at Crick, near Rugby.
     
  6. Dr Hoo

    Dr Hoo Member

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    Fair enough. I hadn't realised that Royal Mail used ferries for the island bits and only flew mail over land (which seems a bit counter-intuitive). I also thought that the Isles of Scilly ferries only ran on certain days of the week and/or certain times of year. But they must have got it worked out.
    Anyway, rather OT given that there have been no Mail trains anywhere near Penzance or Thurso for quite a while.
     
    Last edited: 9 Aug 2018
  7. michael74

    michael74 Member

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    In years gone by, the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company when sailing into the River Mersey from the Isle of Man, would fly a special pennant denoting the fact they were carrying the mail, this allowed them priority up river and to dock 1st at the Pier Head.
     
  8. InterCity:125

    InterCity:125 Member

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    They probably fly it to the orkneys to be fair but the only planes flying to the Scillies are tiny and the ferry sails every day during to summer.

    Mail is definitely transported by ferry to the Isle of Wight, I was parked next to a large Royal Mail lorry on the Yarmouth to lymington service last time I was there.
     
  9. KingJ

    KingJ Member

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    I happened to stumble across this presentation from DB Cargo. Does quite nicely delve in to the history and current usage of the fleet and the overail rail-based mail services.
     
  10. Condor7

    Condor7 Member

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    Below is a clip (not mine) on YouTube which about 10 mins in shows a Royal Mail 325 being hauled by a class 67 last month, although no reason is given as to why, maybe a breakdown. As has already been mentioned the December loco hauled trains are made up of VGA wagons and while every December (to the best of my knowledge) extra trains run they are not always loco hauled.
     
  11. Highlandspring

    Highlandspring Member

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    No, that was due to extensive traction motor problems affecting the fleet during the GBRf tenure. Some units even operated loco hauled with the PMV vehicle removed at the height of the troubles.
     
  12. ainsworth74

    ainsworth74 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Interesting, thank you :)
     
  13. infobleep

    infobleep Established Member

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    What do they do in winter? Tell the residents they have to wait until the summer? Haha

    I wouldn't expect a massive amount of mail. Of course once there how do they securely get it to each Island?
     
  14. DarloRich

    DarloRich Veteran Member

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    I have been on that one and it had royal mail vans on board with us. In true mail by rail style they rushed aboard at the last possible moment!

    by van, all year round, on the internal island ferry systems. I have been on plenty of Cal Mac island services and you often see the postie in his van waiting for the ferry.
     
    Last edited: 10 Aug 2018
  15. InterCity:125

    InterCity:125 Member

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  16. al78

    al78 Member

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    Ferries to the Orkneys and other populated islands around Scotland run during winter.
     
  17. DarloRich

    DarloRich Veteran Member

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    Indeed - I understand the crossing to the Orkneys can be "rough" in the winter. it was choppy enough in April when I went. We went out via Scrabster (Northlink as shown above) and back via Gills Bay ( Pentland)

    The islands arent cut off! I wonder how the poster quoted thinks the people of, say, Barra survive the winter months!
     
  18. Muzer

    Muzer Established Member

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    Really interesting info in this thread - I knew a lot of the broad strokes but I love the fascinating detail people have provided. Thanks!

    And it doe make me wonder if the mail network will expand further. Unfortunately it seems the boom in online shopping came just at the wrong time for parcels-carrying rail services to be saved - if there had been more overlap between the times when email replaced letter-writing and the times when online shopping (in part) replaced shopping in stores, I imagine more of the services would have been saved.
     
  19. DarloRich

    DarloRich Veteran Member

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    I think one of the big issues was the ability of the railway to deliver the mail train timetables due to engineering works. Afterall the mail must always get through.................
     
  20. infobleep

    infobleep Established Member

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    But they don't run to the Isles of Scilly is my understanding.
     
  21. gsnedders

    gsnedders Member

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    Yeah, this is my understanding with some of the movement away from rail; if you're going to own trucks for when the trains can't run, why are you paying for two sets of assets, one of which is sitting idle?
     
  22. InterCity:125

    InterCity:125 Member

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    I have a feeling people are mixing up posts about the Scillies with the orkneys and vice versa!
     
  23. Clip

    Clip On Moderation

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    Well thats very scily of them
     
  24. Surreytraveller

    Surreytraveller Member

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    They stank of sewage too
     
  25. Brian1979

    Brian1979 Member

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    It was indeed DHL. Ran between Inverness and Walsall. I used to shunt the train at Law Junction about 14 years ago. First job we used the class 67 on if I remember correctly.
     
  26. LOL The Irony

    LOL The Irony Member

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    This video may be of help to some
     
  27. Highlandspring

    Highlandspring Member

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    There was also a portion from Law Jn to Aberdeen - ran as 1S03 on the way north and 5D03 on the return.
     
  28. DarloRich

    DarloRich Veteran Member

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    there is a boat from Penzance to the Isle of Scilly. It is called RMV Scillonian III - It is A Royal Mail Vessel and it runs on a daily basis. i believe in the winter an alternative ship takes over but offers only very limited passenger accommodation

    here is a picture:

    [​IMG]Penzance by DarloRich2009, on Flickr

    That isnt the only ferry route to the Orkney. There is also Pentland Ferries:

    [​IMG]St Margaret's Hope by DarloRich2009, on Flickr
     
    Last edited: 11 Aug 2018
  29. David57

    David57 Member

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    Mail from the NDC at Crick, the driver (me on a few occasions) books on at 04.00 to take the mail to Portsmouth ferry terminal to meet the Chanel Island boat, and changes trailers.
    At Busy times, Mail is trunked up to Warrington to connect with the train to Scotland (and also connect with lorries heading to Birkenhead, for the Belfast ship),and also loads there for Southern destinations.
    At quieter times, a trailer change (several times a day) takes place in Preston RM depot.
    A little known flow is via the Daventry rail terminal, a few (10?) containers a day at busy times, returning equipment (York cages etc) from Scotland.
     

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