Sunday, 14 September 2014

One of the issues we went on strike over was the current timetable which is proving to be somewhat less than workable.  Under the new timetable there are more trains running after the evening peak and at the weekends which sounds fine but because the trains are spending more time out on the line they aren’t spending enough time in the depots for the maintenance crews to carry out all the work that is needed.

Consequently trains are going into service with minor faults which develop into major faults and the number of faulty trains being taken out of service has rocketed.  For myself I’ve had to take a train empty to the depot three times this year when it used to be an annual occurrence at most.  This means all of us are spending more time stuck in the tunnels and platforms behind faulty trains which obviously leads to running late.

The new timetable also has shorter “turnaround time”, the gap in the timetable between arriving and leaving our destination which means there is more chance of us leaving late if we’ve been delayed for any reason.  What hasn’t helped is that Wood Lane seem reluctant to “short trip” in the event of late running, say making an EPP train into a DEB or a LOU to get the train back on time on the WB.  This has led to is a rise in shortened meal reliefs and late finishing, something I’ve mentioned here before as I’ve probably put in more claims for overtime in the last year than in the previous ten.

Another contributing factor is the number of new TOps that have arrived on the Central line, some from other lines, others coming up from stations as they try to prune the numbers prior to reorganisation.  What has been noticeable is that a lot of them seem to be struggling with faults and I had heard that stock training – where we learn how the train works and how to get it moving when it develops a fault – has been shortened.

If this is true it can only exacerbate the delays given the number of faults we’re getting but when you also consider the RAIB’s recent comments on training its quite disturbing; if they’re struggling with simple faults how are they going to deal with something major?  A smaller issue is that with so few trains in the depots there are times when there simply isn’t one available for our 5-day refresher and there are some things you just can’t do on a computer simulator.

Despite all the new faces around we still don’t have enough TOps to cover all the duties, I’ve worked the last three Saturdays in a row and three times I’ve been told to put my train away early as there wasn’t anyone available to take me off when I reached WHC at the end of my first half – not that I object to having an extended meal break.  What is annoying is when you have to take the train to the nearest sidings after you’re supposed to have finished then make your way back to your home depot and claim for yet more overtime.

I’m certainly looking forward to finding out what ASLEF and management agreed to on these issues.


  1. While I can see a lot of that is annoying, I'm not clear why it is a striking issue - I can understand that where the above problems lead to forced overtime, or disciplinary action due to late running caused by factors outside the control of the TOp, however if it is just a feeling that the timetable doesn't work then I don't see that it is cause to strike.

    1. It was one of the issues, there are bigger issues involved but it is all an example of how management seem somewhat out of touch with the reality of things on the "shop floor".

  2. I was at ROV yesterday having just missed a WOO train. While I waited, a special (002), a HAI and then another special (042) all came through on the outer rail. I don't know if the two that were out of service were duds or not, mind.

    Sure enough there was a train in WOO sidings when I arrived.