After the chaos of the last few days Tuesday was going quite nicely until an hour before I was due to finish. With just a run up to EPP and back to LES to do there was a “next platforms and hold” call for the entire line as Wood Lane had lost all control of the signals east of LIS due to a power supply failure. Thankfully power was restored after a couple of minutes but as an after effect the escalators at BEG weren’t working and a few platforms didn’t have any CCTV.
Now as I have explained before if we don’t have CCTV in the cab we get Wood Lane to “watch” us out but if they don’t have it either then a member of station staff has to come down to give us the “right” and stand by an emergency platform plunger or “code buster” in case something goes wrong. What this little device does when activated is to put the signal code at the platform to zero, effectively giving the train a red light.
What the Line Controller instructed us to do was to “self despatch” if the platform was straight, without the failsafe of a member of station staff which is a big no-no and as we have seen up on the Bakerloo just because the Line Controller or the signaller instructs to do something doesn’t mean if something goes wrong you will no be offered the chance to join the fastest growing club in the UK, the dole queue.
So when I rolled up at DEB EB to find my screen blank I hit the whistle to attract the attention of the station staff and when none appeared I got on the radio to Wood Lane. Sure enough the Controller asked me to “self dispatch” and I refused, insisting on someone being there on the platform before I moved. I tried the whistle again and this time the Super appeared, I closed up, received confirmation that it was okay to go and set off again. I got a quick turnaround at EPP and when I reached BUH WB there was a member of staff on the platform waiting to give me the right.
With cuts to station staff coming in February and a leaked memo admitting the possibility of some stations being without any staff at certain times what will happen if we have a similar CCTV failure. I for one will certainly not be risking my job and my pension to keep the service running.
Other than that Auto was just not happy with the weather conditions. I gave up after we’d pulled up halfway into the platform for the third time and just stuck the train into Coded Manual for the rest of the trip. What with that and the CCTV I was only five minutes late getting to back LES. Wednesday is my rest day, I’m off to buy sprouts.
Best Of Londonist: 19-25 February 2024
5 hours ago