Don Foster MP*
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Mail Rail: Foster Seeks Alternative Options
The Government should consider alternative uses for London’s ‘Mail Rail’ underground service, which the Royal Mail will close at the end of the month, say the Liberal Democrats. It could make a valuable contribution to London’s transport problems.

Main ImageDon Foster MP, Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, tabled an Early Day Motion in April demanding urgent consideration of alternative uses for the dedicated Post Office line which runs between mainline stations and sorting offices from Paddington to Whitechapel. MPs from across the political spectrum have supported his EDM.

Mr Foster said:

“’Mail Rail’ may no longer be economically viable to the Royal Mail, but surely this exciting transport system could be put to some alternative use.

“The existing infrastructure of ‘Mail Rail’ offers an alternative to the transportation of goods across central London. It would be extremely shortsighted to overlook any contribution ‘Mail Rail’ could make towards relieving the desperate traffic congestion and pollution problems of the capital.

“The Government should investigate all alternative possible uses for the ‘Mail Rail’ infrastructure. Getting goods deliveries off London’s roads and onto the rails would help get London moving again.”

ENDS
Notes to Editors to follow...

Notes to Editors

i) EDM 1088: THE DEMISE OF MAIL RAIL proposed by Don Foster MP

That this House laments the demise of Royal Mail’s historic and unique underground railway in London known as ‘Mail Rail’, dedicated to the transportation of letters and parcels across 23 miles of track running from Paddington to Whitechapel; notes the valuable service that Mail Rail provided by delivering an average of 4 million letters per day between nine dedicated stations including two mainline railway stations and four sorting offices; regrets that Mail Rail is no longer financially viable; and urges all parties involved to ensure its 'mothballing' does not result in additional lorry journeys, congestion and pollution on London’s streets; and urges the Government to consider the legislative changes necessary to enable alternative use of the system so that this important piece of infrastructure can continue to benefit the capital. 28th April

ii) The mothballing of Mail Rail, and the transfer of the mail it carried onto roads will require running seven extra delivery vehicles in London; these would altogether make approximately an extra 90 journeys per week.

iii) The Mail Rail route runs for 37km between Paddington in west London and Whitechapel in the East End. The line originally ran between nine stations, serving two mainline stations and four main sorting offices. Until the recent closure of Whitechapel station (31st March) the route served four stations including a British Rail main line station and three major London sorting offices.

iv) Fully automated, computer-controlled trains run on 23 Miles (37km) of 2 foot gauge electrified track 21m beneath Central London. The trains are 8.4m in length and travel at a maximum of 64km/h
vi) Royal Mail state that Mail Rail is no longer sustainable – this is due to a huge decrease in the amount of post in central London and also major changes in Royal Mail’s distribution system.
The amount of mail posted in London over the past five years has dropped by almost the equivalent of a mail centre. Furthermore, the amount of mail is decreasing due to the economic climate and an increased use of email.
Royal Mail has made major changes in its distribution system in order to process mail closer to the areas that they serve. New distribution centres have been established in areas outside of central London such as Greenford, Bromley-by-Bow and Feltham. These are not served by the Mail Rail line.

vii) This has resulted in the service becoming too expensive, costing up to five times as much as moving mail by road.

viii) Royal Mail is holding talks with businesses and other organisations about possible use for the tracks, trains and tunnels. Should nothing suitable arise from this, Royal Mail’s heritage team is also compiling an inventory of which equipment should be preserved for posterity.

Printed (hosted) by David Bellotti on behalf of Don Foster (Liberal Democrat) both at 31 James Street West, Bath BA1 2BT. _blank

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