Dubbed the ‘ghost Tube‘ by Atlas Obscura, the London Post Office Railway, aka the Mail Rail, was conceived as a subterranean solution to quickly transporting mail and postal employees beneath the city’s traffic-clogged streets.
And it worked, starting service in 1927. In its heyday, the miniature 4-foot-tall Mail Rail ferried 12 million postal items every day on 23 miles of track from East End’s Whitechapel to west London’s Paddington. Amazingly, it remained operational until 2003, when maintenance costs finally became too prohibitive. All of London’s mail now goes by lorry — boringly, I might add — above ground.
But good news for postal and underground enthusiasts — plans are in the works to bring the Mail Rail back on line as a tourist attraction, part of a larger postal museum. But don’t hold your breath — opening is tentatively set for 2020.
All photos by Matt Brown.