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.