| EXIT | Railnet |

In its history, mail by rail has taken many forms, but none is more noticeable than the fabulous Royal Mail red livery of the Class 325 Electric Multiple Units (EMUs) as in the above photo.

By the mid 1990s a bold new strategy for carrying mail on the railways was devised. 'Railnet' was developed to aid bulk handling of mail by having purpose built depots both for the marshalling of trains and the transfer of mail bags to and from the road network. As a result of the rationalisation, it was no longer necessary for TPOs to be based at main line railway stations.

Thus the £150 million Railnet project was financed by Royal Mail (before privatisation) with the aim of having a network of 'state of the art' rail to road handling depots, planned for 'economies of scale' to efficiently handle large volumes of mail.

The Railnet hub for London was built at Stonebridge Park which is between Wembley Central and Harlsden stations on the Bakerloo Line. The hub has easy access to the North Circular Road and Willesden rail junction. The centre is better known as the Princess Royal Distribution Centre (PRDC), Wembley and was developed by the company Broadway Malyan, for Royal Mail Property Holdings.

The PRDC alone cost £30 million.

Broadway Malyan describes the project...

"The road/rail 'hub' lies at the heart of joint planning by Royal Mail and British Rail for a fully integrated mail distribution system. The apparent simplicity of the road/rail hub building measuring 13,500m² (145,000ft²) belies the complexity of Royal Mail's operational requirements and reflects the close co-operation between client and architect in formulating the brief and cost control."

Stafford Railnet
Railnet on display in the BPMA Store at Debden.

Photo: A container from Stafford Railnet at Debden Store © Light Straw Archive May 2014.

With special thanks to Steve Jones and the Post Office Vehicle Club.

[York containers POVC Jan 1994]

GB Railfreight is part of FirstGroup plc.

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