Sunday, 31 March 2013

My apologies for not writing, my personal life has been rather fraught of late and frankly I simply wasn’t in a writing mood.  Since my last post we’ve had an outbreak of Spice Girls and royalty with Kate Midddleton being given a “Baby on board” badge.  Unsurprisingly they are now in great demand  having sat unwanted in boxes at 55 since 2006 but my friend was ahead of the trend, three years ago she asked me to get some for her and all the other ladies in her “Bump Group”.  Today is her daughter’s 2nd birthday, thankfully she wasn’t born a day later and thankfully she wasn’t a he, she’d have ended up as Humphrey.  Philip Larkin was right.....

There was a strike that didn’t happen on the Jubilee Line over aggressive management practises but which the media trivialised as being about tea and toilets.  Harry Beck has been honoured with a Blue Plaque at the house where he was born which is in the street next to mine.  As the wonderful Diamond Geezer pointed out he only lived there until he was two then moved to Highgate, the house he lived in when he drew his Tube Map is in West Finchley and there’s a Blue Plaque already there so this seems a bit of duplication.

There seems to be a shortage of TOps on the west end of the line, I’ve covered for WHC and WER over the last few weeks as well as the usual HAI and LOU duties.  At one point we had HAI spares covering LES turns because our spares were all running for the other end.  We’re supposed to be getting loads of new TOps to enable the introduction of new timetable with more evening and weekend trains as well as later running and a Sunday service on the W&C but we’re struggling for staff to cope with the one we have at the moment.

The new timetable has now been put back to September which isn’t anything new, I can’t think of one instance in the 15 years or so that I’ve worked for LUL when a timetable has been introduced when it was first meant to but this time the trouble of the Bakerloo Line with detraining at Queen’s Park seems to have given management reason to reconsider introducing the same regime on the Central.  No doubt the bods up at Timetables and Rosters are busy juggling times in order to give us the extra minutes to close up trains and make sure that they're empty.

The only major hiccup was with the planned engineering work last weekend, we were meant to be shut down both days between LIS and LES then round the Loop to GRH.  I was working Saturday with a rather bizarre duty, I started off on “Duty Manager’s Instruction” for a couple of hours, took the replacement bus to STR, jumped on the mainline train into LIS and then made my way to WHC.  Having watched “Kung Fu Panda” I went to LIS and back, had my meal break, did an EAB and back before heading back to LES to finish my duty.

Not that I was alone spending more time travelling and sat around than driving a train, there were some LES duties that ended at WER then coming back across London in taxis after the close of traffic while HAI TOps were getting taxied from there too.  The night turns were getting taxis to LIS, doing the last trains and then getting a taxi to LOU to bring the first trains out in the morning.  Because of the cold weather Wood Lane were thinking about running sleet trains and as both west end night turns would be coming east they were going to send the night spare in yet another taxi to WER.  Apparently we’re trying to cut costs on the Tube…..

All of this was pretty pointless as the shutdown got cancelled, the rumour being that someone left the juice on in a section where work was being carried out and a piece of equipment got welded to the track.  The engineers refused to continue on safety grounds and Wood Lane were asking if the DTSMs could ring round everyone who was due in Sunday to ask them to come in at the regular start times.  How exactly how five DTSMs are meant to ring up all the TOps late on a Saturday night is beyond me but the idea was quickly rejected and the next day we ran a special ten-minute service while the replacement buses sat unused at LES and STR.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Fun and games on a Sunday.  The first half, a simple LES-WER-LES went without incident for me though when I was going WB trains were held WHC-HOL on the EB with the current discharged HOL-LIS for a “person on the track” at HOL.  It turns out someone thought it would be a good idea to step off the platform at the headwall to relieve themselves.  I bet they didn’t think it was such a good idea when BTP arrived and dragged them off to the cells.

My second half was a rather bizarre LES-WOO via HAI-WHC-LOU then empty to WOO, round the loop to HAI and into the depot before going back on the cushions to finish at LES.  For a start why go to HAI and have to change ends on the platform when you could just as easily go in via GRH?  Why go up to LOU rather than straight to HAI via NEP in the first place?  Why not put it into LOU sidings?  Why waste all that time running empty and riding the cushions?  Sometimes you have to wonder at the thought process that goes into writing timetables and duties up at 55 Broadway.

However I never got west of LES, on the approach to GAH on the way into town Wood Lane gave us a “platforms and hold” for a track circuit failure just west of BEG, a track circuit being part of the signalling system for those of you not in the know.  Trains were able to go through the section to LIS in restricted manual one at a time but we can only do 15kph while in RM rather than 65kph in Auto or Coded so it was causing delays and trains were moving up one station at a time. 

I was ten minutes late by the time I reached LES WB and as I was only due to go into the depot after one trip rather than add another train to the queue Wood Lane decided to send me up to EPP, back down to WOO in service, reverse off the platform back around the loop empty and into the depot early.  Subsequently I was rolling into the depot over an hour earlier than I was timetabled, just as Wood Lane announced that the problem had been fixed and we’d be running as normal.  Which was nice…..

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Just a short note to say that my two weeks off were very enjoyable but returning from the sub-tropical delights of Miami to the frigid and damp climate of London in February brought my chest infection back with a vengeance.  Following another course of antibiotics I returned to work Monday but to be honest not much has happened so I’ve not bothered writing.

The introduction of the proposed new timetable, with us closing the doors from the cab rather than going back and checking the cars are empty when going up sidings factored into the timing, has been postponed until September possibly due to the current dispute up on the Bakerloo Line.  I have heard that they’ve managed to solve the delays caused by TOps refusing to reverse via the sheds at Queen’s Park unchecked by withdrawing a few trains from service though if that is true or not I have no idea.