Rail Express Systems

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Rail Express Systems livery as carried by Class 90 electric locomotive no. 90016 at London Liverpool Street on 6 March 2004
Rail Express Systems livery as carried by Propelling Control Vehicle no. 94335 stabled at Plymouth on 29 August 2003

Rail Express Systems was a sector of British Rail. Upon the sectorisation of British Rail during the 1980s, the Parcels Sector was created. In 1991, this was re-branded as Rail Express Systems. The Rail Express Systems launch event was held at Crewe Diesel Depot in October 1991. For this event, examples of Class 08, 47, 86 and 90 locomotives were painted into a new livery of red, with a grey upper band, and light blue and grey flashes. The light blue and grey flashes represent a set of stylised eagle's wings.


This sector of British Rail was responsible for transport of mail and parcels traffic, including the Travelling Post Office trains, as well as taking over the charter operations from Intercity.

The sector had maintenance depots at Crewe Diesel, Bristol Barton Hill, Cambridge and Euston Downside. Rolling stock was also maintained by other sectors at Heaton depot in Newcastle and Liverpool Edge Hill.

During the existence of the Parcels sector there were many changes in the use of rail to deliver mail and parcels. Smaller services were cut back and in many cases saw the end of mail services using passenger stations. These changes were in part through the Railnet scheme initiated in 1996 which created mail hubs at Shieldmuir (Motherwell), Low Fell (Gateshead), Warrington, Doncaster, Bristol Parkway, Tonbridge, and Wembley PRDC (London) as well as dedicated platforms at Stafford.

The company was bought by English Welsh & Scottish in 1996.[citation needed]

Mid 1990s routes[edit]

Travelling Post Office routes
  • London-Glasgow
  • London-Carlisle
  • London-Newcastle
  • London-Dover
  • London-Norwich
  • Penzance-Bristol
  • Plymouth-Newcastle
  • Cardiff-Glasgow
Other mail trains
  • London-Bristol
  • London-Glasgow
  • London-Newcastle
  • London-Norwich
  • London-Plymouth
  • London-Swansea
  • Plymouth-Glasgow
  • Plymouth-Newcastle
  • York-Shrewsbury (ECS worked from Newcastle and reversed into p1 at York)

Parcels Sector rolling stock[edit]

The late 1980s and early 1990s saw many changes to the Rail Express Systems fleet, with the cessation of the usage of Class 105s by 1987, Class 114s by 1990, Class 120s by 1987, Class 127s by 1989, Class 302s by 1996 and Class 308s by 1989.

In the same period, Class 325 EMUs were introduced and the entire parcels and mails fleet with the exception of the Travelling Post Office stock was refurbished or withdrawn.

Multiple units
Coaching stock
  • NAA - Propelling Control Vehicle
  • NBA - Brake Guard (High-security)
  • NDX - Brake Guard (90 mph)
  • NEX - Brake Guard (100 mph)
  • NHA - Brake Guard (110 mph)
  • NIA - Brake Guard (High-security) (110 mph)
  • NJX - General Utility Van (90 mph)
  • NKA - General Utility Van (High-security) (100 mph)
Coaching stock (cont.)


  • Rail Magazine Issue 159
  • Motive Power Pocket books pub. Platform 5
  • British Multiple Units Volume 1 and Volume 3