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Making trails through the Mail Rail
April 19, 2011 1:06 PM   Subscribe

Urban explorers surreptitiously gain access to the Post Office Railway underneath London, take lots of photos.
posted by grouse (37 comments total) 53 users marked this as a favorite

 
Are you sure these aren't screens from Half-Life: Episode 3?
posted by Mick at 1:25 PM on April 19, 2011




I loves me some urban exploration in general, but these are by far some of the coolest shots I've ever seen.
posted by 40 Watt at 1:33 PM on April 19, 2011


"Mini York." Now I'm thinking of those little train cars being driven by teams of Yorkies.
posted by queensissy at 1:33 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


What is the name of this narrative style, and how can I make sure I never read anything written in it again?

Godawful writing aside, I'm surprised that I didn't like this more than I did. I'm usually a big fan of any posts that have anything to do with urban speology or railroads, so the mail rail is obviously fascinating, and I'm sort of puzzled as to why this photoessay wasn't a home run for me.

Maybe it's because they neglected to take any pictures of control panels or other detail work, but this feels like "just a bunch of tunnels," and not anything special.
posted by schmod at 1:38 PM on April 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


" PLEASE KEEP TEA BAGS, ETC .. IN THE BIN NOT ON THE TRACK, THANK YOU "

heh
posted by zennie at 1:40 PM on April 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


I kept expecting them to get one of them trains moving. Great pictures, but they all seemed to run together.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 1:41 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I felt the same way about the far-off oblique shots of control panels. I would have liked to see more panels/controls/signs/mechanism.

train tracks ... wall is round on one side ... more train tracks ...
posted by fritley at 1:47 PM on April 19, 2011


Remember, remember the 5th of November.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 1:54 PM on April 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why is an abandoned railway still fully-illuminated by electric light?
posted by Rarebit Fiend at 1:56 PM on April 19, 2011


Why is an abandoned railway still fully-illuminated by electric light?

I imagine it's so that the security cameras can see people running around taking uninteresting photos of things that are uninteresting. (Seriously, would it have killed them to take some close-up shots the machinery?)
posted by zennie at 1:59 PM on April 19, 2011


Yeah.. definitely feels like a "you had to have been there" moments to get the full effect.

As a teenager, I used to run the tracks on the NYC subway system... and it's pretty surreal, scary, filthy, dangerous and awesome at the same time.

The last time we went, we ended up walking the tracks as normal, dodging trains in the little worker cubbies notched into the tunnel walls, or in the arches in the center "wall." Well, until we got stuck between a Coney Island Bound and a Manhattan Bound "F" train passing each other at the same time, cars passing inches in front of us and behind us. So we decided to head down some stairs to the abandoned-ish express tunnels we had poked our heads into before, and had seen from the subway after a train was rerouted for construction.

Having not explored these tunnels before, we just walked in the direction we were headed. It seemed like forever, and eventually we were tired, hungry and finally decided to give up the adventure for the day. Not really even knowing where we were, but not wanting to walk all the way back the way we came, one of my more ballsy friends found a yellow staircase marked "EXIT" and decided to head up it. We all had visions of traffic coming crashing down on us, or surprised shouts of passersby being tripped by a "door" opening in the sidewalk, but as he slowly inched the steel trapdoor open, there was just silence. We asked him where we were, but he just sat in stunned silence, and said in an awed voice, something to the effect of:

"I don't know, man... I really don't... There's just grass... and trees.. Where are we?"

For the briefest second, visions that some underground portal had transported us to Narnia or some magical place danced in my head... Then.. a siren pierced the air, followed by the guttural blast of the Fire truck's air horn. Far away, but easily recognizable, stealing the magic away...

It turned out we were coming up out of the subway access hatch in some field in Prospect Park, but it still is one of the fondest adventure-type memories from my early teens... Good times indeed.
posted by Debaser626 at 2:02 PM on April 19, 2011 [36 favorites]


I am surprised that the London mail system hasn't simply released pictures of this to remove the interest in getting inside.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 2:06 PM on April 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


did they find gordon freeman ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 2:11 PM on April 19, 2011


Mick: "Are you sure these aren't screens from Half-Life: Episode 3"

More like Fallout 3 if you ask me. That would be so awesome to explore as long as your Pipboy 3000 is in working order.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 2:14 PM on April 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why is an abandoned railway still fully-illuminated by electric light?

From the blog post:

Flicking a nearby switch kindly labelled ”platform lights” the station buzzed and hummed, its lights springing into life one by one in quick succession.

It was still being used until 2003, so it's not all that surprising that the lights still worked but were just turned off.
posted by burnmp3s at 2:16 PM on April 19, 2011


I'll see them their tunnel spelunking and raise.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 2:21 PM on April 19, 2011 [8 favorites]


WOW! Do check out the link from justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow, above.
posted by General Tonic at 2:29 PM on April 19, 2011


Whoa. I'd seen those photos before, and always had a tough time finding them again. I'm pretty sure they're part of a much larger set that's also worth tracking down if you've got the time.
posted by schmod at 2:43 PM on April 19, 2011


There were no zombies handling mail. The Fuller Memorandum lied to me!
posted by GuyZero at 3:35 PM on April 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also, the cake is a lie.
posted by uni verse at 3:52 PM on April 19, 2011


Ditto on the pictures... famous quote that reiterates all the comments: "If the picture's not good enough, your not close enough." Still awesome, I envy them.
posted by uni verse at 3:54 PM on April 19, 2011


I have lived in London more than half my life and I had no idea this existed.

I fucking love London.
posted by Decani at 4:08 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pretty sure I just determined a setting for my Bookhounds of London campaign.
posted by Zed at 4:16 PM on April 19, 2011


Good stuff. This is why I love Metafilter.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:43 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I love photos of spelunking urban and rural ruins, but these less-than-impressive photos make me wish I had shared with MeFi some of the more mind-blowing sites that I've run across having to do with urban decay photographs.
posted by JLovebomb at 4:55 PM on April 19, 2011


Remember, remember, the fifth of november.
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 6:39 PM on April 19, 2011


Metafilter: Always keep a firm hold of the Mini York.
posted by thewalrus at 9:30 PM on April 19, 2011


Another member of the Niagara expedition: story, photos.
posted by SciencePunk at 1:46 AM on April 20, 2011


Pretty cool, but I agree it could have been better done, and the writing style was atrocious. I will not confirm whether or not these are photos of myself and another un-named mefite exploring Manhattan's High Line whilst it was still under renovation.
posted by allkindsoftime at 4:01 AM on April 20, 2011


I'm really impressed by the care taken to have the little trains - which go nowhere else, can go nowhere else, were seen by nobody except employees - all consistently branded with the Mail Rail logo.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:11 AM on April 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Is there some kind of requirement that all urban exploration photo sets include at least one photo of a person at the end of a hallway/tunnel that's backlit in such a way that it looks like there's something supernatural going on?

That aside, they're some pretty cool photos though I would have also liked to have seen some of the control panels and other signage.
posted by Gev at 5:34 AM on April 20, 2011


Glad everyone is enjoying our crew's exploits. I love these comments about how people could have "done it better". But you didn't did you? It took us over a year to find access to this - please have some respect for those who had the courage to actually do it!

The Consolidation Crew has been cracking London and Paris open like never before for two years straight now. It has been a lot of fun and I promise there are a lot more fantastic stories to be told. Stay tuned!

-Goblin
posted by Goblinmerchant at 9:44 AM on April 20, 2011


I love these comments about how people could have "done it better". But you didn't did you? It took us over a year to find access to this - please have some respect for those who had the courage to actually do it!

Eh. It was a really cool thing, and you got to do it and see it up close. That's honestly great for you. But people looking at the story and pictures felt a little frustrated and said so. That's not a slam on your bravery, just a note that the UE fans here weren't drawn into the story by the way it was presented.
posted by zennie at 10:14 AM on April 22, 2011


I love these comments about how people could have "done it better".

Well actually nobody said that.

But several people did say what they would have liked to seen more of in the photos. If you turn down the defensiveness knob a bit (see your only other comment, too), you could use this information to take photos that would have even more impact during your next exploit.

Either way, thanks for sharing the pictures, good luck, and I hope you can continue not getting nabbed!
posted by fritley at 11:06 AM on April 22, 2011


That rave that happened last year sounded pretty intense. In the article about it that filthy light thief posted it says there were about 1000 people and it had had 30 sound systems and 200 DJs playing throughout the night. That means there was a sound system for every 30 people and a DJ for every 5! Crazy kids. Or more likely, crazy reporter.
posted by crawfishpopsicle at 11:38 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sorry people, didn't mean to sound defensive there! As promised, we have now done another write up with more photos.

Hope you enjoy!
posted by Goblinmerchant at 2:02 PM on April 24, 2011


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