The Anonymous Widower

The Return Of Red Star Parcels

In the 1970s, I used to use Red Star Parcels regularly. As there was no Internet, if I wanted to send a software update of Artemis to London, I’d go into Ipswich, pay a fee to register the parcel with Red Star and they’d put it on the next train to Liverpool Street. I’d phone the train time through and someone in London would pop over to Liverpool Street station and collect it.

C and other lawyers in her Chambers, also used the service to get briefs between London, Colchester, Ipswich and Norwich.

The service worked very well and there is nothing to match it today, except for paying for a courier with a high-speed bike or car.

Perhaps, the best story about Red Star was one that appeared in the Sunday Times.

Parents had bought one of the first Andrews Maclaren baby buggies for their child, but the frame had broken at the back, a day before they were going on holiday. A call to the firm in Derby, told them to Red Star the buggy to Derby station, which they duly did. A few hours later, they were phoned by the company to say that the buggy would arrive in London on the 19:00 train.

The story was true, but you wonder how much was spin on the part of Andrews Maclaren and British Rail.

Network Rail are trying to make their assets sweat. I did see a report a couple of years ago, where Colas Rail and TNT were experimenting with bringing freight trains into Euston for deliveries to shops like Sainsburys and Ryman using electric and low carbon delivery trucks.

A company called InterCity RailFreight is now starting a service using high-speed passenger trains. This is said on their web-site.

We have proven that using passenger trains works – for everything from ultra-time-critical tissue samples delivered to testing laboratories, to fresh seafood carried from fishing boats into the kitchens of top London restaurants.

Not only is our service fast, frequent and reliable – it is cheaper and greener

It sounds very much like the reincarnation of Red Star Parcels.

They are helped by some of the rolling stock that work the services. The InterCity 125s have a generous amount of space in the power car for luggage and some of the driving van trailers used to Norwich can take a copious amount of goods, but what attracted me to the service was this article in Rail Magazine, which is entitled Plans submitted to modify Mk 3s as freight vehicles.

Mark 3 coaches don’t seem to know, when the time is right, to make a dignified exit to the scrapyard.

They would certainly make very good high-speed freight cars for high value goods. We might even see some complete InterCity 125s converted to freight to bring sea food from the far South West or England and the far North of Scotland to places, where they will be consumed.

Could we also see Royal Mail using them as long distance mail and parcel carriers?

February 1, 2016 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , ,


  1. I was offered a contract to work on Artemis 2. I could see that developing proprietary hardware to lock customers to the product was doomed and turned them down. See

    Comment by Mark Clayton | February 1, 2016 | Reply

    • I wrote the first Artemis and was never really attuned to 2, as the baby went out with the bathwater.

      Small world!

      Where are you these days?


      Comment by James | February 1, 2016 | Reply

  2. I hated taking red star parcels,for the godammedfirm i worked for and always to euston wich was the worst, red star office situated riht at the far end of the station, of ten very heavy to convey down their, very bad memories for me 1970’s thank god they dont exist now!!

    Comment by Paul c rey | December 2, 2018 | Reply

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