Red Star Parcels

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Red Star Parcels
Fate acquired by LYNX Express
Founded 1963
Defunct 1999
Parent British Rail
Red Star Parcels sign at Reading railway station, England, partly obscured by new advertising hoarding, photographed in 2009
Red Star Parcels sign at Reading railway station, England, photographed in 2009.
Note "Lynx" logo

Red Star Parcels was a service which used passenger trains for transporting parcels between passenger railway stations throughout the United Kingdom, owned and operated by British Rail. It was introduced experimentally on 1 April 1963.[1] Senders could despatch their consignments to selected stations at which the parcels were collected by the recipient. The service used scheduled trains and as such was one of the fastest methods of transporting a package long distances around the country.

Red Star Parcels no longer trades although signage bearing the Red Star logo can be seen at railway stations across the UK including Bradford Interchange, Bournemouth Central, Birmingham New Street, Brighton, Littlehampton, London Euston, York, Derby, Stoke-On-Trent, Stafford, Darlington, Southend Victoria and more.

British Rail's registered parcel service[edit]

In 1963 British Rail set up an express registered parcel deliver service to compete against the General Post Office; the service was known as "Red Star".[2]

City Link[edit]

In 1969 City Link Transport Services Limited (a private company) was established in order to offer a transfer service between London termini. Shortly thereafter City Link Ltd. introduced the concept of same and next day delivery throughout the UK, utilising the Red Star parcels service to transport its packages from station-to-station where City Link agents (later to become franchisees) would collect and deliver the final mile. So successful was the service that City Link promoted it as "Red Star Parcels Door-to-Door". The concept was also promoted widely by British Rail's own freight sales force, which later helped City Link to become the largest single user of Red Star.

In 1982, British Rail introduced their own Door-to-Door parcels service, calling it "Night Star" (a brand which was later quietly dropped). City Link were appointed as the delivery agents with a 5-year contract (and a 2-year extension) and this eventually led to the downfall of the relationship between the two organisations. In 1989, following suspicions and allegations that both parties were competing directly with each other, City Link started the transition of moving its parcels from rail to road.

Management buyout[edit]

The Government made several attempts to privatise Red Star Parcels. The British Railways Board attempted to sell it in June 1993, attracting seven bids. Only two were considered to be serious; and in November 1993 the board recommended that the sale be abandoned. In 1993-94, John MacGregor, Secretary of State for Transport, attempted unsuccessfully to sell it off. On 5 September 1995 it was sold to a management buyout, for a peppercorn rent;[3] the cost of the sale was recorded as £0.3 million.[3] Privatisation of the network led to the creation of private passenger train companies and the loss of a national network heralded the start of the demise of Red Star.

LYNX Express[edit]

In January 1999, Red Star was acquired [4] by LYNX Express Ltd, which was in turn itself acquired by UPS in 2005.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Railway Magazine, May 1963. page 360.
  2. ^ Simmons, Jack and Biddle, Gordon (1997). The Oxford Companion to British Railway History: From 1603 to the 1990s. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-211697-5, page 363.
  3. ^ a b Harris, Nigel G. and Godward, Eric (1997). The Privatisation of British Rail, London: The Railway Consultancy Press. ISBN 0-9529997-0-6, Appendix A: "Sales and Disposals of BR Subsidiary Businesses.
  4. ^ http://www.cwn.org.uk/business/a-z/lynx-express/9901/990105-red-star.htm