2018-03-11 14:54:20 UTC
I'm sure many people here have already visited and ridden on Mail Rail
museum, which opened last autumn. I finally got around to it last
week. This was my second visit to the railway, having been on an
organised visit about 40 years ago, when it was in full operation. Of
course, I didn't get a ride that time.
For anyone who's interested, but hasn't yet been, here are a few
observations and pictures:
- You still need to book in advance, but only a few days. You must
book tickets for a particular, timed train, and turn up 10 mins
- They normally run one of the two new trains Mon-Fri (services every
20 mins), and both at weekends (services every 10 mins).
- The staff told me it's better to come on a weekday, as it's much
quieter (fewer rampaging kids).
- The museum entrance is very discreet, and it's easy to walk right
past it. They've had to put a little sign on the pavement to identify
- There are lockers in the entrance, which are worth using, as bags
can't be taken on the cramped train. There is also an unlocked cage on
- The exhibition and tourist train platform are in the old depot,
which is very close to the surface. It's only one flight of stairs
down, so most people won't need the lift.
- The exhibition in the old depot is interesting, and includes a
virtual reality viewer of how it used to be. The can swing the screen
round, zooming in and out and even seeing through a wall. There are
several items of rolling stock to look at, and various other displays,
confusingly including the main line TPO Bag Exchange catcher nets and
mast, as seen on the Night Mail film. It could fool people into
thinking that there were used on Mail Rail.
- The train ride lasts 15 minutes, including two stops in the Mount
Pleasant station for audio-visual shows.
- The distance covered is small. Basically, you never leave Mount
Pleasant, starting out in the deport to the north west of the main
station, passing through the station, looping round immediately after
passing through the platform, and then returning through the other
- The trains are battery-powered, and are charged overnight. They do
up to 19 circuits in a day, which one charge can manage.
- The driver and controller alternate roles. They told me that it's
boring being the controller on a one-train day, and they much prefer
driving (who wouldn't?). There's also someone to open and close the
train doors and canopies, and to flip the tram-style seat backs.
- The clearance between the trains and the tunnels is very small in
places. Obviously the doors and canopies can't be opened during the
ride (the driver warns you that the train will stop if you put too
much pressure on them).
- They told me that the rest of the railway is still owned and
maintained by the Royal Mail. There is at least the theoretical
possibility of the museum trains doing a longer circuit, perhaps to
the next station, but there appear to be no current plans for such an
expansion. It would obviously need Royal Mail's agreement, and there
would be a significant costs. The current trains may not have the
battery capacity for the extra distances involved.
- The Mail Rail and Postal Museum are in different buildings on
opposite sides of Phoenix Place, about 90m apart. You have separate
tickets for both.