I’ll start with an apology, writing my last post on the proposed changes to station staffing was very interesting and quite fun, it was only when I revisited it later that I realised how dull it was to read. To my colleague who asked me if I was ASLEF shrugged yesterday please accept my assurances you have never featured in my blog, you were none of the people I mentioned in the past, possibly the lack of nicotine is making you paranoid…….
The picture on driverless trains has become a little clearer, everything seems to suggest that until all the old trains have been replaced and PEDs have been fitted where necessary and/or possible the new trains will have a temporary cab with a TOp driving. For the Piccadilly this will mean the first new train entering service around 2022 but driverless operation not commencing for three years with a similar pattern on the other lines so the Bakerloo could still be operating with TOps in the cab well into the 2030s.
Rather than my initial idea that TOps would be displaced from the lines being converted gradually as the new driverless trains were introduced this will mean that LU will need a full roster of TOps one day and the next they’ll be surplus to requirement. The problem is retaining staff, in order to have enough TOps to keep the service running LU will have to fill vacancies due to retirement etc. even though they’ll be going NoPO in the near future.
For those TOps in their late 50s and 60s voluntary redundancy becomes quite an attractive option but imagine you are a TOp in your 30s or 40s on a line that is going driverless in the next five years or so. If you want to carry on working at LUL then obviously you’re going to put in a transfer request to a line that will need TOps in the future, as will all your colleagues faced with a similar dilemma. So how does LU stop a mass exodus that would leave them without enough TOps?
The answer is that we've been in this situation before, prior to closing the East London Line management did a deal with the unions, they got the TOps to stay until the end by offering them a large wedge of cash and guaranteeing them future employment. Shortly after the ELL closed a large number of the displaced TOps moved to LES, they were sat around doing nothing for months as none of them were licensed to work 1992 stock and we didn’t have enough IOps to train them all at once. There wasn’t enough space for all the new arrivals so LU put some portacabins in the car park which became know as “Sangatte”.
For myself it means that I’ll probably be retiring while the Central Line is in the process of conversion so I’ll miss out on any large redundancy package but as Granny shrugged would have said you don’t miss what you never had. What it does mean is that a year or two before I retire I will probably need to be retrained to drive a driverless train which is ironic almost to the point of peeing myself.