Part of a ‘secret’ railway which trundled along for 76 years unbeknownst to most of the Londoners walking above it will open to the public from next year.
The Mail Rail, which began carrying post in 1927, shut down in 2003. However, a mile-long section of the line will open as part of the Postal Museum project, backed by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Due to open in 2017, the new Postal Museum is a rebranding of the British Postal Museum and Archive. Visitors to the museum will also be able to experience “an immersive subterranean ride” on the re-opened section of the Mail Rail, according to the museum.
A total of 22 miles long, the Mail Rail network runs at a depth of 70ft from Paddington Head District Sorting Office at Baker Street to the Eastern Head District Sorting Office in Whitechapel. A vital part of London’s postal delivery network for decades, it was closed in 2003 as it was not cost effective to run compared to lorry transport.
Despite being disused for nearly 13 years, the Mail Rail has, in fact, been carefully maintained by a three-strong team of workers. This is led by Daniel Casey, who, according to the Guardian, began working on the Mail Rail as an 18-year-old apprentice.
Another of the team, Ray Middlesworth, told the BBC: “It’s part of our day-to-day job, but if you think about it, it’s an unusual thing to be doing, walking on your own through a tunnel, through the middle of London with millions of people around you and you’re on your own.”
From next year, one section at least, won’t be quite so lonely.