Saturday, 19 April 2014

Yesterday I said that TSSA staying in negotiations while RMT walked out raised some questions so I did the obvious and checked on TSSA’s website.  There I found an update of negotiations from Thursday and it makes interesting reading.  You can read it all yourself here….

…….but it seems that although progress has been slow and there's still plenty to argue about TSSA are quite happy with how things are going.

For a start DSMs and Station Supers will not have to reapply for their jobs or be downgraded, any DSM not getting promotion to Area Manager or taking voluntary redundancy will automatically get a CSM1 job, similarly every Station Supervisor who wants to stay will be a CSM1 or 2.  Good news for them  but that still leaves the 1450 SAMFs/SACRs to fight over the 666 CSS positions with those who fail to get one becoming CSA1s and losing around £6k in 2018.

The 61 Local B stations will now be staffed by “Supervisors” rather than just a CSA1 but TSSA mentions that they will not agree to “diluting and downgrading of this role” which suggests that while TSSA want this to be a CSM LUL think this could be the new CSS grade.  Obviously CSMs/SSs are trained and licenced to deal with a lot more but obviously they get paid more as a consequence.

TSSA say that LUL have committed to minimising the impact of moving stations, trying to ensure that staff like the Station Supervisor I mentioned who’d worked many, many years at the same station on the east end of the Central Line doesn’t end up working at the top of the Met or somewhere out on the western end of the District.  Negotiations on this will continue which I’d guess means that they are now discussing the exact definition of the word “minimising”.

They’re still arguing over the 953 jobs cuts but it seems that the applications for voluntary redundancy have increased from 450 to 650 in the last 8 weeks.  TSSA still isn’t happy with all the ticket offices apart from six closing or with “de-skilling” which I suppose means reducing SAMFs/SACRs to CSA1s and the creation of the CSA2 grade who will be customer service only with no railway licensing.  Finally they say that they will be negotiating over the categorising of stations and are hoping for a station-by-station review of LUL’s plans.

So those are the results of 8 weeks of negotiations and obviously it will take at least 8 weeks more to get a final agreement, the question remains why LUL didn't talk to the unions about this before announcing their final plans and setting off the strikes?  Today is my "day off" from making Old Mother shrugged's breakfast, my brother is seeing to that this morning but tomorrow I'll be making scrambled eggs which will make a change from her usual porridge.  Happy Easter, people.

Friday, 18 April 2014

I haven’t written recently as most of my mornings are now spent with Old Mother shrugged, after which I go home to do my own housework and/or getting ready for work.  On my days off I’ve spent a great deal of time sleeping along with trying to have something approaching a social life so blogging has taken a backseat.

I had heard that things were not going well at the negotiations on station staffing so RMT’s announcement that they were going out on strike again isn’t much of a surprise although the fact that TSSA have chosen to remain at the table does raise questions.  My only input is that every time I’ve been through Dagenham Heathway around 8am there is a fair old queue at the ticket window, it will be interesting to see how things are going to work out after it’s closed and all that's left are the self-service machines.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Unkle Bob has gone.  Those who a few weeks earlier condemned him as a political dinosaur from the 70s that should be locked in the Tower and questioned whether he should be sunning himself on a beach in Brazil (or wearing those shorts) with a strike looming are now shedding crocodile tears while declaring what a great loss he is, how he stuck to his principles and how respected he was.  Now they reveal that he wasn’t the rabid Marxist bully boy he was portrayed as but a polite if determined negotiator with strong principles, it seems all you have to do is die and everyone loves you.

For myself I admired what he achieved at RMT but not the methods he employed to achieve it, whoever his successor is will find him a hard act to follow and no doubt they will suffer the same character assassination attempts that he was subjected to.  Bob was four months younger than me, a reminder that we all have a date with the undertaker and none of us know when it is.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Richard Tracey says “Accelerating driverless trains on the underground would cut the huge £141M annual tube driver wage bill. Ultimately this will help bear down on fares for Londoners and pay for vital progress like 24 hour trains and flexible ticketing.”

All very nice except we’ll be running Night Tube from autumn next year and the first line to go fully NoPO won’t be until ten years after.  As for the cutting the wage bill…..

If by 2033 30% of trains will be driverless let’s assume there will be a proportional reduction in TOps, cutting the wage bill to around £100m which is a fairly impressive saving.  However Mike Brown has said that while trains will not have drivers they won’t be unstaffed, there will be the new grade of Train Attendant who will carry out the same function as the PSAs on the DLR.  PSAs get around £36k, roughly 75% of what TOps get so let’s say that TAs will be on a similar salary which means that the wage bill will only be cut by 7.5% to £130m.

So every year LUL will save what Wayne Rooney makes in 8 months.  Terrific.

Friday, 28 February 2014

And we're off!  LUL have announced they are tendering for 250 new “air-cooled” and “walk-through” trains for the Piccadilly, Central, Bakerloo and Waterloo & City Lines that will be “capable of full automation” with the necessary upgrades to signalling at a total cost of £16.4bn.  Tendering will go through until next year with the contract awarded in 2016.

Driverless trains are on the way.

Following the link on the TfL’s webpage leads to a file that states that they don’t expect to have the Piccadilly running at the projected increased capacity until 2025, the Central until 2030, the W&C by 2032 and the Bakerloo by 2033.  Whether this means that the Lines will not be fully automated until those dates is unclear but one would assume that once the last manned trains were retired reaching the required capacity would follow soon after.  Regardless that will still leave the Jubilee, Northern, Victoria and four Sub Surface Lines running in ATO with a TOp in the cab which Mike Brown estimated as 70% of trains.

So if the Central Line will not be fully NoPO until 2030 then I will be 69, retired to the North Norfolk coast with a Staffy keeping me active, Unkle Bob will be the same age on a beach in Brazil, Boris will be 64 sitting on the back benches wondering where it all went wrong while Richard Tracey will be 87 and dribbling into his porridge.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Karma is a wonderful thing, the idea that things will cosmically balance out, that for every bad thing something good happens and vice versa.

I picked up my second half yesterday at LES and when I changed ends at WER I noticed a huge crack in the offside windscreen.  I looked through the defect log to see if it had been reported but there was no mention, just the usual traction faults, ATP problems and dodgy porter buttons on Car 2.  I noted it and carried on, went up to EPP then headed back to LES to finish, it had been a long shift and I was already dreaming of my duvet.

When I arrived at LES there was no one waiting to take me off so I waited for a couple of minutes before calling the DTSM on the desk to let them know that my relief was a no-show.  After another wait the DTSM eventually called back to say that it was meant to be a HAI night turn, they’d not booked on, HAI had no idea where they were, there were no spares available again and I’d have to take the train empty to WOO sidings.

I went back car by car, giving the passengers the bad news, closing up as I went and when the next WB train came into sight I’d closed up everything apart from the front two cars.  I hurried to get the last passengers across, hit the porter buttons, jumped in the cab and called up Wood Lane to let them know I was ready to move.  Wood Lane waited for a suitable gap in the service then cleared the signal, I pushed out the TBC and nothing happened.

I tried all the things I could think of that could be wrong but still nothing.  I called Wood Lane to let them know that I wasn’t getting any movement and they took a release on the signal while I sorted things out so that trains could run around me.  I tried everything again with no success and it was only then that I noticed that I didn’t have a “door closed visual”.  Then I remembered that note in the defect log about dodgy porter buttons on Car 2 and yes, in my hurry to get the passengers over to the arriving train I’d left the doors open.  Bugger.

So I closed the doors on Car 2, called Wood Lane to let them know I’d sorted things out, not mentioning that I’d made the simplest mistake it is possible to make, waited for another gap in the service, put the train in the sidings at WOO, waited for a train back to LES and dumped my equipment back in my locker just slightly over 45 minutes late.  Ain’t karma great.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

I have experienced quite a few strange things in the years I’ve been a TOp but yesterday was something new; getting out of work early because we didn’t have enough staff.  My duty was one of those unbalanced affairs that the clever people who write the rosters and timetables at 55 Broadway come up with, little work on the first half, everything on the second with nearly 4 hours between the end of the meal break and the finish.

The problem was that HAI had quite a few duties uncovered, one of which was meant to take me off at LES at the end of my second half and because of the absences all the spares were busy.  Normally if there is no one available to take you off you have to take the train to the nearest depot or sidings and we get hit for the overtime but as my second half was so lengthy I’d have gone over the 4 hour 15 minute limit.  So instead of going WHC-WER-DEB-WHC-LES I was told to go WHC-WER-HvN and stable.  I suppose they could have short turned me at LES EB or MAA WB but as this was in the middle of the evening peak I guess Wood Lane thought it would be too much hassle and it would be simpler to just get me out of the way.

Wood Lane radioed me to inform me of this fortuitous decision when I was at WHC EB, when I got to SHB the platform dot matrix was still showing DEB but when I got to HOP it had changed to HvN.  And then it got weird, at NHG it was displaying WHC, back to HvN at QUE and WHC again at LAG.  It alternated all the way through to BAN and LIS which both showed me as WHC but after BEG it stuck with HvN.

The fun was you could spot which SATS were paying attention and which weren’t; the attentive ones were peering at the front of the train as I arrived on the platform to check where I was going, the less attentive ones hadn’t bothered looking at the dot matrix until I arrived and started the PA “This train calls all stations to….” before they noticed the error.

I ended up getting off the train in HAI depot about the time I should have been leaving DEB on the WB, all of which illustrates that putting more trains on a timetable and actually running  a service are two very different things.