WELCOME TO THE MUSEUM OF TRAIN POST OFFICE!
Train post office was a railroad car that was normally operated in passenger service as a means to sort mail en route, in order to speed delivery.
This system was first used in Great Britain on the route Birmingham – Liverpool in 1837. This innovation prooved successful and a year later the Royal Mail placed an order for special train post office carriages. The net of TPOs quickly developed. The original route was prolonged and other TPOs connected it at railway junctions. Thus the crew sorted out the mail not only for the places which the TPO went through but also the mail for the consequential TPOs. The system was very fast and effective and it was soon overtaken by other European and oversees countries.
The territory of the present-day Czech Republic was a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the days of the origin of TPO. The first Austrian TPO went from Vienna to Bohumín in 1850. It was a success so E. and K. post ordered the first 15 post carriages.
Extensive mail reforms were necessary – for exmple the stamp was first introduced. Thus postal service became available for wide public and the number of transported post items had risen sharply.
In 1858 the first four-axled carriages were ordered. These carriages were actually two smaller two-axled carriages firmly joined together. You could find an office in one carriage and the storage in the second one. The TPO carriages were the only railway carriages with their own toilets. Passengers had to wait till the train stopped at a station.
Work in the TPOs was very demanding and the TPO was staffed by highly trained postal clerks. The rough conditions (such as cold, smoke from stoves and
engines as well as little space) started to improve gradually. Nevertheless, it had never been possible to claim that work to be easy. Crews had to work shifts and they were away from home for several days.
TPO used to be a very important part of mail transport. However, it started to be pushed out by the advancing motorisation. This trend started at the beginning of 20th century and the last TPO went on 29th May 1999. TPOs in the USA were canceled in 1977. In 2007 there were only seven countries where TPOs remained part of the mail transport system. Russia is such an example.
DESCRIPTION OF THE CARRIAGE
Loading and uploading was realised by the dispatched clerk through the wing door. Unloading was done at first. Parcels and letters were unloaded according to their importance. The daily press was to be unloaded first. The loaded items were sorted out by the dispatched clerk. He handed the bags with letters to the office.
The bag was opened on a check in counter table (CIC table). Registred and non-registred mail was further sorted into the boxes according to the target posts or they were handed to other TPOs leaving radially from the station which the train was passing through. Larger items (up to 3 kg) were sorted into bigger boxes by the check in counter table or bags hanging under the
The crew of this car comprised of 1 to 3 workers – a leader, a post sorter and a dispatch clerk.
The leader was responsible for transport documents, sorting out valuable packs carried in so called BAGS and for registred letters. He was responsible for the smooth running of the shift. He was also under an obligation to check (after leaving each train station) whether there was not a new post item in the train post box.
The sorters were responsible for sorting out the non-registred post items.
The dispatched clerk was responsible for loading and unloading, sorting out parcels in the storage, opening and closing post bags and sorting out huge post items in the office.
The division of work was not strict. The members of the crew usually helped each other. F.e. loading and unloading was done by several members of the crew,not just the dispatched clerk.