Friday 14 May 2010

Once upon a time we had drivers and guards. The driver sat at the front driving, duh, and was responsible for the safe operation of the train in motion while the guard stood at the back opening and closing the doors, essentially responsible for the safety of passengers while the train was in the platform area. With the introduction of One Man Operation (OPO) the guards’ eyes were initially replaced by either mirrors or monitors on the platform level with the driver’s cab and then by in-cab monitors connected to CCTV on the platform.

So when the CCTV isn’t working we have to have a member of station staff acting as a guard, give us a signal to confirm that no one is trapped in the doors, then watch us leave the platform safely and operate the emergency stop button if something goes wrong. Now if something like that does go wrong when drivers swap over the one leaving the train is meant to tell their replacement and even if they don’t Wood Lane Control is meant to make regular announcements keeping us informed of any irregularities.

The driver I took off said nada and there wasn’t a peep from Wood Lane but when I saw a CSA stood by the front end of the WB platform at MiE I guessed there was a problem and when the screen remained blank it was obvious why they were there. She gave me the “right”, I closed up, off we went, smooth as. On arriving at ShB WB there was also a blank screen but as nothing had been said I thought perhaps the fault was on my train or only just happened. Then I heard a male voice on the platform PA warning the punters to stand clear of the doors but when I opened my cab door and looked back for source of the voice I couldn’t see anyone giving me the “right”.

ShB is a curved platform and I wondered if he was “around the bend” but eventually after the crowd on the platform had thinned out a bit I spotted a figure in uniform stood there staring in my direction. An arm was eventually raised, I closed up and moved off.

I do wonder how well these station staff understand the importance of their role in all this as from my experience of doing that job myself I know a lot of my colleagues seemed half trained at best and from the cab it doesn’t look as if thing shave improved. If we do have a reduction in staffing levels I hope they keep the ones who seem to know what they’re doing……

Otherwise a very quiet night, only two sleepers when I reached Epp both of whom left the train, one of whom actually offered his sincere thanks for waking him up as it was his intended destination. Maybe it’s too far from payday, people looking at their wallets more and deciding not to get utterly rat-arsed on a Thursday.

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