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Naughty Nigel
20th June 2018, 03:37 PM
Some members here might remember when British Rail operated their Red Star Express Parcels service.

This was an excellent and very rapid service whereby customers could take parcels to their local railway station, have them put on the next appropriate train for collection at the other end shortly after the train arrived.

This service quite literally meant that one could take a parcel to (say) Darlington railway station, and have it collected from London, Plymouth or Aberdeen the very same day.

I don't know what happened to Red Star. Many newer trains don't have a parcel van as such, and maybe privatisation made things too complicated.

Whatever the reason for Red Star's demise I read recently that somebody has come up with the bright idea of using redundant high speed trains (another story) to transport parcels around the country at high speed, hence taking traffic off of the roads.

I wish them all the best of British luck, but it does seem like reinventing the wheel. If it is such a good idea why was Red Star shut down in the first place?

Bikie John
20th June 2018, 04:22 PM
A long time ago - maybe late 1970s - I went to a talk at the British Computer Society by a chap from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority who were setting up a massive new computer system at a centre in Swansea (*). He was talking about ways to transmit the data from where it was collected in London down to the computer centre - even back then there were fancy high-speed links, satellites and so on. They concluded that the fastest, cheapest and most reliable way to do it was to send a tape by Red Star overnight.

(*) It didn't go well, as is so often the way with big public sector IT projects. It was known in the computer press for quite a long time as "the joke factory". This was probably rather unfair - once the teething troubles were resolved we never heard about it again, which suggests that it simply worked.

John

Naughty Nigel
20th June 2018, 04:51 PM
A long time ago - maybe late 1970s - I went to a talk at the British Computer Society by a chap from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority who were setting up a massive new computer system at a centre in Swansea (*). He was talking about ways to transmit the data from where it was collected in London down to the computer centre - even back then there were fancy high-speed links, satellites and so on. They concluded that the fastest, cheapest and most reliable way to do it was to send a tape by Red Star overnight.

(*) It didn't go well, as is so often the way with big public sector IT projects. It was known in the computer press for quite a long time as "the joke factory". This was probably rather unfair - once the teething troubles were resolved we never heard about it again, which suggests that it simply worked.

John

I can remember similar debates not that long ago. Before broadband it was quicker and cheaper to put a tape or even a pile of floppy disks in the post for next day delivery. :)

DerekW
20th June 2018, 07:44 PM
I ran the payroll suite of programs in the early 70s, to get the money transferred from the company bank account to the employees bank accounts a reel of tape was sent by motor bike courier to the Inter Bank Computing Service in London (latterly called BACS) this caused the money to be transferred ready for payment on the 6th of the month.

In 1979 I was sent to Paris with a reel of tape for it to be included in some euro wide reporting. In these days of protectionism the tape was taken from me (confiscated) by the French customs police and was eventually recovered from them a few days later after much filling in of forms. Does not harbour well for future ways of working.

In 1970 a dedicated telephone line was set up between the big computer centre in the UK and the equivalent one in the US for transmitting key data back and forth. The most notable thing the line was used for was on Site Open Days when family and friends were invited to see how computers were made and where family members worked, the line was used to transmit a NY radio stations output to the Brits.

Even earlier was the evening ritual of loading 6000 or more punched cards into the card reader for the overnight run of production control. Sending data by punched cards would have been a HGV type job.

pandora
26th June 2018, 06:58 AM
We too were able to send parcels per rail, quickly and efficiently until Australia Post got privatised and put a stop to it. Recently a registered "Express" package from Brisbane costing $30 took six days to reach me. When contacted by said carrier for feedback, I let 'em have it with both barrels. Knowing that my tirade had been recorded "for coaching purposes" made me feel better. *yes

peak4
26th June 2018, 09:02 AM
Or maybe use a carrier pigeon; :D

https://www.cnet.com/news/carrier-pigeon-faster-than-broadband-wings-beat-web/