Mail Rail is back: Post Office's hidden rail lines open to the public this summer

Rebecca Smith
The line linked six sorting offices with mainline stations at Paddington and Liverpool
The line linked six sorting offices with mainline stations at Paddington and Liverpool (Source: The Postal Museum - Miles Willis)

The Post Office's underground rail lines will open to the public for the first time ever later this summer.

The 6.5 mile long Mail Rail network went out of use more than a decade ago, but is being revived from 4 September so Londoners can experience "20 minutes of immersive underground exploration" on its miniature trains, with the tunnels being opened up as a ride for the first time in their 100-year history.

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Ahead of then, this Friday 28 July, the Postal Museum will also open its doors for the first time after being converted from a disused Clerkenwell printing factory.

For the Mail Rail, a specially made train passes through the original tunnels and station platforms under Mount Pleasant, while passengers can also visit the exhibition providing an insight into the former working rail line.

Check out the disused Mail Rail tunnels and snapshot of the museum:

(Click or tap on the images to see them in full screen)

The tunnels, which are narrower than the Tube ones, are 70ft below street level and linked six sorting offices with mainline stations at Liverpool Street and Paddington. The service used to operate 22 hours a day.

The line operated from 1927 up until 2003, after the Royal Mail had said using underground rail was considerably more expensive than using road transport. It ran from Paddington head district sorting office in the west to the eastern head district sorting office at Whitechapel in the east, and while it did have eight stations, only three remained by 2003 as sorting offices above were relocated.

But at the end of 2013, plans were put into action to revive part of the network, after getting backing from Islington Council, with a successful test drive carried out last year.

Where did the London Post Office Railway go?
Whitechapel eastern delivery office
Liverpool Street
King Edward Street
Mount Pleasant sorting office
New Oxford Street
Rathbone place western delivery office
Wimpole Street old western delivery office
Bird Street western parcels office
Paddington sorting office

Tickets are available for both the museum and the Mail Rail now.

Read more: There's now a Tube map for people with claustrophobia

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