Observations and opinions of a Central Line Train Driver
Wednesday, 28 October 2015
On Monday Manuel Cortes of TSSA called on Boris to personally intervene in the Night Tube dispute by meeting with the unions and the reply of the "Mayor's official spokesman" is hilarious. For starters the unions are condemned for not putting the latest offer to the members, the same offer management made five days before the second strike and which anyone with half a brain knows would be rejected. Secondly it says that all negotiations should be with LU management and that any intervention by Boris "risks undermining that process" which is ironic seeing as management have deliberately undermined the process themselves by putting their latest offer directly to the employees rather than through the unions.
Finally it accuse the unions of "needless headline grabbing" which is rich considering the countless times management have gone to the press to bitch and whine about the unions, doubly rich considering that Boris would attend the opening of a can of baked beans if he thought there was a chance it would get him some publicity. For me the most interesting piece of the statement was that "the introduction of Night Tube will not be at any cost" which sounds like Boris and management are giving themselves an escape route out of the mess they've created.
Actually its just as well that Night Tube didn't go ahead as planned, the 92s are suffering at the moment and we've had numerous cancellations due to not having enough available stock which has been most noticeable in the morning peak according to my good friend Chicago (he's not American but he is windy). They've even begun sending trains out with little stickers in the cab informing us that one of the units isn't getting any power and won't have any motors but its okay to remain in service on just three units. I've not spoken to any of the train technicians since the overtime ban was lifted but I'm guessing that this is just a further symptom of the same problem we've had since the latest timetable was introduced. With more trains in service during the "off peak" and at weekends the trains aren't in the depots long enough for the maintainers to service them properly, if we were also running them two nights a week you have to wonder how many would be available on a Monday morning!
What is truly astounding is that we don't need all these trains running during the "off peak" or at weekends. When I'm not working I'm a passenger like everyone else, naturally I avoid travelling during the peaks and I can see for myself how empty the trains are. Now its nice to have a train every three minutes on a Saturday afternoon but when its starting to effect the morning peak surely someone should be asking if its necessary. Instead it seems that management are more intent on being able to declare to the world that they're running more trains than ever rather than focusing on matching the service provided to the actual demand. This certainly doesn't strike me as the most efficient way to run a railway and I doubt if its the best use of what we are constantly told are increasingly limited funds.
Rather than trying to put as many trains out as possible or introducing Night Tube perhaps TfL should spend the money running more buses at weekends outside Zone 1. I've lost count of the number of times when I've been trying to get to work on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon I've counted around a dozen people waiting at the stop by Leyton Midland Road station, a bus has rolled up packed to the gills, the driver has opened up the middle door, a few people have got off and the bus has left without letting anyone on. Obviously there are not enough buses to meet the demand.
Perhaps what we need is someone at the top of TfL who will look at the situation as a whole with a Mayor whose interest goes beyond big flamboyant stunts. Sadly for the present we have Boris and a man called Brown so its all about showmanship rather than service.