The Loco and the Mule
There’s always something curious going on down in Mail Rail. This time, while part of an old loco leaves, a mockup ‘mule’ takes to the rails…
For 76 years, if a train down in Mail Rail came to an unplanned stop, a battery-powered locomotive – or ‘loco’ – would come to its aid.
Sometimes it was due to a simple technical fault, but other times there were greater issues, like when a metal mail-container landed on the track and shorted large swathes of it out.
Whatever the problem, the staff of Mail Rail always found a solution, and the three locos – hauling tools, equipment, and even whole trains if needed – played a pivotal role.
Extraordinary circumstances called for extraordinary equipment. The locos were capable of shifting almost eight times their own weight – 54 tonnes each – in trials, and this required serious battery power.
Recently, one of these batteries – itself a conglomeration of smaller batteries – finally left Mail Rail for a well-earned rest. Here we follow its journey out through the only route it would fit down – or rather, up:
As one thing leaves the tracks, another takes its place: deeper into Mail Rail, train-builders Severn Lamb have been testing their ‘mule’.
How do you make sure that the new train you are building fits through a quirky and irregular set of tunnels? You build a wooden prototype, of course, matching the dimensions of your design at its greatest points. Then you put it on the tracks and see what happens.
It may not look much, but it has proven very important, with designs being adapted to make sure that the new Mail Rail ride’s trains squeeze through safely.
Soon, the trains that will take thousands upon thousands of visitors around Mail Rail for the first time – a lot more shiny and comfortable than the mule, it must be said – will go into production.