Oh dear, it seems that sometime next week I’ll be getting a little brown envelope from the Electoral Commission with a ballot paper inside asking me if I want to go on strike.
As well as many side issues the main area of contention is the treatment of sick TOps, it seems that management think if we are unfit to work as a TOp, even temporarily, they can “terminate” us any time they want but our position is that contractually we get 26 weeks sick pay with 13 weeks in redeployment.
ASLEF asked for a meeting with the Central Line bigwigs to try sort things out and they got round the table on Monday but the whole thing only lasted 10 minutes before ASLEF walked out in disgust. Sadly this isn’t unexpected, as I’m sure anyone reading my blog will have noticed I’m less than impressed with the standard of management down here, Lord knows what the selection process is like but I suspect having no connection between the ears and the brain must be high on the list of desirable attributes.
If things follow the usual course we can expect a vitriolic attack in the Evening Standard about lazy train drivers holding London to ransom so that they can carry on skiving off because they’ve got the sniffles or have sprained their wrist trying to lift our overstuffed wallets. LUL will say that the strike is unnecessary, be dragged kicking and screaming to ACAS where they’ll capitulate on everything and we can get back to the business of running a railway.
And some talking pile of warthog’s vomit will call for driverless trains.
On that subject Boris mentioned the “New Train for London” on LBC’s Vanessa Faultz Show as did LUL’s Director of Capital Programs David Waboso CBE (for services to transport and wasting shedloads of money on the Sub Surface Lines signalling upgrade) in the Standard saying how they’d be cooler than the sauna-like conditions our passengers are currently enjoying. For some reason both of them forgot to mention when they’d be entering service and neither of the interviewers bothered to ask but according to TfL’s latest wish list “The Plan” the hope is that the first NTfL will appear on the Piccadilly in 2021/22.
I bet you feel cooler already.
So how are things on the Central Line? Bloody awful. We don’t have enough TOps to run the timetable, putting a train away early because there’s no one to relieve you has become pretty commonplace but in part that is masked by the number of trains developing faults while in service and having to be withdrawn to the depots and sidings. The lack of “turnaround” time means that the smallest delay leads to late running and I’ve probably filled out more overtime slips in the last six months than I have in the previous ten years.
Wood Lane are a constant source of amusement/irritation, they seem to be in competition with each other on how many times they can say “eastbound” or “westbound” in a single announcement, I counted six a few days ago. Occasionally there is confusion about which is EB and which is WB or sometimes we get no direction at all, simply left to deduce which trains are being given a “platforms and hold” from where the incident is. Sometimes we’re left in the dark as to where the problem is or why we are being held which isn't helpful as we're required to make PAs to inform the passengers of the situation after 30 seconds and then keep them updated every 2 minutes.
Despite all that it’s still very nice to trundle up to EPP in CM with the cab door open although there haven’t any more Muntjac sightings.