The Anonymous Widower

Royal Mail Rolling Back The Years To Put More Post On Trains

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on The Daily Telegraph.

This is the sub-title.

Post transported by train will treble under plan to ditch planes and lorries.

These are some points from the article.

  • They are in discussion with Network Rail.
  • Roughly 4pc to 5pc of Britain’s mail is transported on the railways.
  • Keith Williams is executive Chairman of Royal Mail and also was the independent chair of the recent Government-supported Rail Review.
  • One of the aims of the strategy is to rescue the share price.
  • Royal Mail are building some fully-automated parcel-hubs, with the first two at Warrington and Northampton.

I have some further thoughts.

The Warrington Parcel Hub

This appears to be at the Omega Business Park on the closed RAF Burtonwood airfield.

This Google Map shows Warrington.


  1. The M62 running across the map in an East-West direction.
  2. The two junctions on the M62 are 8 and 9, with junction 8 to the West and junction 9 to the East.
  3. The Omega Business Park is on both sides of the M62 to the West of Junction 8.
  4. Royal Mail appear to have three sheds to the South of the motorway.
  5. Amazon, Asda, Hermes, The Hut Group and others have sheds in the Omega Business Park.
  6. The red arrow indicates the location of Royal Mail’s Warrington Rail Terminal, where mail services between London and Scotland call.

This second Google Map shows Royal Mail’s Warrington Rail Terminal in more detail.


  1. The West Coast Main Line runs North-South to the West of the terminal.
  2. It looks to be a cramped site.
  3. I doubt that Royal Mail would want to transfer parcels between the rail terminal and the parcel hub, because of the number of trucks involved and the carbon they will generate.
  4. They could use Hydrogen or battery trucks, but that would be a considerable expense.

Perhaps the best thing to do, would be to bore a tunnel.

  • It’s about six kilometres.
  • Electric shuttles would be zero-carbon.
  • Everything could be highly-automated.
  • No drivers would be needed.

It would probably cost less to run.

Royal Mail At Northampton

Where the Northampton Loop Line meets the West Coast Main Line between Rugby and Northampton, there is a massive logistics park, which is shown in this Google Map.


  1. There are at least three Royal Mail sites here.
  2. One at the top of the map is labelled Royal Mail NDC NEW SITE.
  3. One at the bottom of the map is labelled Royal Mail National Distribution Centre.
  4. There is a rail connection.

This must be a very large investment for Royal Mail.

Further Parcel Hubs

No further hubs are mentioned in the article. But I’m sure, that the systems at Warrington and Northampton could be replicated.

The East Coast, Great Western And Midland Main Lines

I suspect, when these lines are fully electrified, they could be brought into the system.

A Hub At Calais

Why not?


It looks a good plan and one that can be realised.

May 6, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Williams Lifts The Veil On Forthcoming Rail Review

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Railnews.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Keith Williams has confirmed that the creation of a new national railway body is to be recommended in his forthcoming Review, and that he is looking at removing the profit motive from passenger train operating contracts, which could become ‘passenger service contracts’ instead.

These are my comments.

Passenger Service Contracts

These are used on some parts of the UK rail network.

Such a type of contract seems to work well on the train operating company I use most; the London Overground, where it is operated by Arriva Rail London.

I also think, that although the London Overground is a large network in terms of stations and passengers, it is quite geographically compact, so management of the strengths and problems is easier.

I remember when the Lea Valley Lines were run by Greater Anglia from Norwich, using an out of sight out of mind attitude.  Since, the takeover, these stations have improved to a high degree.

The Profit Motive

In some instances the profit motive can be bad, as where a train operating company reduces staff at a little-used station, which may result in more crime or incidents.

On the other hand, the profit motive may lead to extra train or customer services.

For instance in LNER To Put Lincoln On The Rail Map, I talked about how LNER are increasing services between Kings Cross and Lincoln and about rumours that say the service could be extended to Grimsby and Cleethorpes.

Because there is stabling at Cleethorpes, but no facility at Lincoln, in this instance, there could be cost advantages to turning the last train at Cleethorpes, rather than sending it overnight to Doncaster or Leeds.

Using the stabling at Cleethorpes might make it easier to run the following trains.

  • A n early morning direct train from Cleethorpes to Kings Cross via Grimsby and Lincoln.
  • A n evening direct train from Kings Cross to Cleethorpes via Lincoln and Grimsby.

There must be a robust partnership between all stakeholders, so that everybody gets the most out of the operation.

Political Interests

I am also wary of politicians, who are peddling their constituency’s or their own interests, or have long held views, that certain places don’t need a train service. For many years,

Hackney was considered a sink borough and wouldn’t know how to use a train service, by Silverlink and politicians of all colours. But this all changed, when the Silverlink Metro routes were placed under the control of Transport for London (TfL)

Wikipedia says this.

TfL decided to let this franchise as a management contract, with TfL taking the revenue risk.

It certainly proved very successful for passengers, but lately because of funding shortages at TfL, expanding and improving the Overground seems to have slowed.

In my view, transport is too important a factor in everybody’s lives to be left to politicians of one flavour.

The Transport for London Model

This is an extract from the article.

He is in favour of the Transport for London model, and praised the large amount of innovation which TfL has achieved. He believes one of the new-style National Rail contracts could also include specific bonuses for innovation. He added: ‘TfL is still run like a network, so we need to take account of the national network as well. To some degree, TfL could form a model for the new guiding mind.’

My comments are.

Does The Transport for London Model Work?

Speaking as a Londoner, I think it does and I can’t understand why other large cities and metropolitan areas, don’t have similar transport networks with.

  • Local trains, trams, light railways and buses under the same overall guidance.
  • Unified contactless ticketing.
  • Comprehensive information for all transport users, including pedestrians and those who are less mobile.
  • Buses and trams with smooth wheelchair access.
  • A policy to increase step-free access towards hundred percent.

Some cities are making a good fist of it, but some are downright terrible and very difficult for those with no local knowledge.

Compare Liverpool and Edinburgh!


Williams mentions innovation and he is right.

But sometimes the innovation is an expensive idea, that is out of step with what is being done in other parts of the UK and the rest of the world.

  • To my mind, the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway was an out-of-step development, which if it had been developed a few years later would have been a tram-train working on the Karlsruhe model.
  • If Manchester had started to develop the Metrolink a few years later, it would probably use similar low-floor trams to Birmingham, Blackpool, Croydon, Edinburgh and Nottingham, which would surely ease the acquisition of new trams.
  • Rhe Edinburgh tram system  doesn’t use battery operation in the City Centre, as Birmingham and Cardiff will be doing soon and some European cities have done for years.

Partly, this is design by hindsight, but it does appear that the lessons have been learned by the designers of the South Wales Metro.

Contactless Ticketing

The biggest innovation by TfL has been the development of contactless ticketing across all modes of transport, using ordinary bank cards.

But why has it not been implemented in a similar comprehensive manner in other cities or areas of the UK?

I suspect it’s just a multiple case of NIH!


I await the full Williams review with interest.


November 1, 2019 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , | Leave a comment