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Last Updated: Friday, 9 January 2004, 12:31 GMT
R.I.P. Mail trains
MAIL TRAINS have reached the end of the line. No more the night mail, crossing the border, bringing no cheque nor postal order.

After more than 160 years of service, the Travelling Post Office - where post is sorted en route on special train services - has finally gone to the sidings.

Mail train
Happier times
Summed up memorably by WH Auden in his verse Night Mail, cruelly misquoted above, the TPO made its first journey in 1838 from London to the Midlands. By the First World War more than 130 services were in use.

By the end of the Second World War only 43 services remained and the 1980s saw further cuts.

The decision to finally bring about the end of the line for TPOs was greeted with much sadness.

Staff members past and present, together with enthusiasts, see the death of the service as the real Great Train Robbery, as guestbook tributes lovingly left on TPO fan websites show.

The Great Train Robbery proper did, of course, offer the TPO's most infamous hour when a 15-strong gang made off with about 2.3m after holding up a train.

While 3,000 letters an hour were being sorted on the overnight trains, Royal Mail says automated equipment is now capable of a 30,000 per hour turnover.

The decision to transport post solely by air and road means the end to the "Victorian solution to a Victorian problem" of moving post around the country.

The move will save Royal Mail 10m a year (a third of the sum lost in the Great Train Robbery, in today's prices).

No flowers.

Your tributes:

They Auden't have done it.
Lee, UK

Stamped out
Denzil D, England

Derail of mail.
Mike Parker, US>

Night Night Mail
Manj, UK

No wreaths either, they might get leaves on the line.
S Murray, Chester

My tribute is in the post.
Howard M, Finland

This is the last post train. A later collection will be made at....
Simon Holt, UK

Here comes the night mail crossing the border, in a 7.5 tonne DAF truck.... How romantic is that?
Robin Hull, UK

The last post.
Gail, UK

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End of line for mail trains
09 Jan 04 |  England

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