Saturday 31 July 2010

How 92 stock trains work part 105.

Now on 92 stock every car, of which there are eight, has two sets of four wheels on a “truck”. Between the truck and the car is the suspension system, basically a big bag full of air. The car has a sensor that gauges how much weight is onboard and the suspension system inflates or deflates the bag as people get on and off.

Another clever little piece of kit adjusts the acceleration and braking depending on how much the train weighs while yet another do-da converts the weight information into an estimate of how many passengers are on the train, passes that onto Wood Lane and should there be a need to tip out and reverse they can pick a relatively uncrowded train. All in all the suspension system is pretty damn important.

Every now and then the bag just deflates on it’s own leaving that particular car with a very bumpy ride and if this happens we have to go back to the affected car, open up a cabinet under one of the perch seats and reset. Now that’s all very well if you happen to be at a station like EAA at 23:00 but if you are in the middle of a tunnel at 08:30 with 800 odd people jammed on and the failure is in the rear car it’s not so easy to get through. If that is the case we have to crawl along at around 30kph, the maximum safe speed for driving without suspension, until we reach the next station.

Fortunately I was a EAA at 23:00 though its still a long walk to the rear car.

Friday 30 July 2010

Very quiet Wednesday night apart from ATP, the thing that passes signal information to the train, crashing at BAR. Last Trains don’t leave a station until the have been given a signal, “The right”, from station staff that everyone who should be aboard is aboard, a way of trying to ensure that passengers don’t get left stranded. This is given in numerous ways, a handlamp, a baton or the simplest form, a raised arm, just as long as it is a clear indication that the train has permission to leave. ATP is restored by resetting a circuit breaker in the cab which left the SS at BAR with his hand in the air for a lot longer than normal and he was starting to look a little worried.

Thursday and the usual collection of drunken sleepers at EPP. Two woke up and got off, a young lady woke up and was not at all pleased that she had overshot her destination or that we were only going back as far as LOU. There was a lad stretched out face down on the seats, which was very nice for him except he hadn’t intended to sleep past WOO. Another bloke simply refused all attempts to wake him and as I had little time to change ends before I got the green he came with us back to LOU.

On reaching LOU while the SS was busy dealing with the other two so I tried to awaken the dead once more . I gave him a shake and his head began to lift but when I stopped shaking it descended again. So I shook some more but every time I stopped the same happened, it was like pumping up a balloon with a leak, every time you stopped pumping it deflated. In the end I just kept shaking him until his eyes opened and focused on me. I managed to get him onto the platform but then had to dissuade him from leaning on the train and get him to lean against the wall. After that the SS took over trying to herd him out of the station while I stabled the train. The whole time not one word passed his lips though I could quite believe the speech centre had been left somewhere on the system.

Lost Property is at Baker Street if anyone is interested.

Tuesday 27 July 2010

Someone reported that they could smell “something plastic” burning in the front two cars to station staff at MIE but by the time Wood Lane told me I was just pulling out of LEY and when I jumped out of the cab at LES to investigate I could find no trace. We are still very touchy on fire after King’s Cross, which is why you still cannot smoke anywhere on LUL, even the bits above ground, just a total no-no. Part of the annual licence renewal of everyone from CSAs to managers includes a fire refresher course and even the number of staff required for each station to open is calculated on how many it would take to evacuate in an emergency.

The only other thing of note was a total absence of Evening Standards when I changed ends at WER and EPP, normally the carriages are full of them but not one to be seen tonight. Was there a shortage, a short print run and they ran out or something or did they just not print yesterday’s edition?

Monday 26 July 2010

Sorry I’ve been missing, absolutely nothing of note has happened apart from our beloved leader, Howard Collins, going on BBC to moan about some of our infrastructure being 80 years old and in desperate need of replacement. It would appear that somehow this essential and somewhat expensive bit of work got missed by Metronet when they were responsible for maintenance and upgrades, far too busy refurbishing stations, something that was instantly noticeable and they could point to as proof that they were really getting to grips with the task they had taken on.

The only good thing to come out of the PPP debacle is that it has left the idea of letting the private sector loose on the Tube as politically unpalatable which must be very frustrating for some of the more “privatise everything” Tories though I’m sure that in a few years time we’ll hear mutterings about how we could be run more efficiently if we were sold off from the foaming at the mouth diehard Thatcherites.

Oh and Boris’s cycle hire scheme is set to be the most expensive in Europe to use. Roll on 2012 and we can have Ken back. Sorry Oona, come along as Deputy, gain some experince and perhaps we will forget you lost a safe seat to George “Pussycat” Galloway.

Tuesday 20 July 2010

Late post, Saturday night was uneventful, one woman at EPP got off and was wandering up and down trying to find a way over to the other platform to get a train back to LOU, I informed her that the train she had just got off WAS the train back to LOU. Sunday morning the stretch between DEB and EPP was bunny overload, I lost count.

Trouble brewing over reduced hours for ticket offices, something management have said would not happen and Boris promised he would put a stop to. I saw this coming years ago when Oyster cards were being introduced, it was one of the factors that led me to the conclusion that there was no future working on Stations and that I’d better get my arse over to Trains pronto.

Reduced hours would mean less ticket office staff and there are rumours that LUL are trying to reduce the number of staff present to open a given station. This is based on the estimated number of people needed to evacuate the station in an emergency, so while somewhere simple like Bayswater with two platforms and a ticket hall need a Supervisor and one other somewhere like King’s Cross or Oxford Circus need a lot more.

Another rumour is that LUL want to change the procedure of evacuating a train in a tunnel; at the moment we sit and wait for Station Staff to come along and then each person leads a dozen of so punters down the track but the word is that we will be asked to leave the train and do it ourselves if no one has arrived after half an hour. All rumour at the moment but it is the sort of moronic idea that comes out of 55, a wonderful land where they believe that every morning the train pixies wave their wands and the Tube starts running by magic.

Saturday 17 July 2010

Thursday night, more rain, more Auto failure, more driving Coded. Tonight I didn’t have to wait till EPP to find casualties from the night’s excesses, a very sweet couple both sound asleep at WER, him sat up with head on one side and her curled up on his lap. Tried to wake them both to no avail, thankfully the track out of WER EB is fairly bumpy and they staggered off at RUG. At EPP only one besuited man stood on the platform staring in confusion at his surroundings, seemed quite young, I did wonder if this was his first “overshoot” to EPP. I can remember the first time I ended up in Upminster after a night on the town, not nearly as painful as the first time I woke up in Shoeburyness. He travelled back to LOU and then presumably trudged off to the minicabs to complete his weary journey back to WOO.

Friday I was spare but I didn’t spend much time sitting around as despite the reduction in rostered positions with the new timetable we still don’t seem to have enough drivers. A HAI duty had gone sick or something, their dead late spare duty was uncovered and the train stabled after the next last spare was due to finish. I met the train at LES, rode down to HAI and then relieved the driver once we’d arrived. The train was booked in the timetable to arrive on Plat. 3 but the train in front was still there so we were diverted to Plat. 2.

The driver gratefully legged it leaving me and the station staff to close up the train. One man, awake but with I-Pod on full blast, took ages to comprehend that this was the end of the line. It would seem that the change of platform confused Wood Lane Control as they let two trains into the depot off Plat. 3 before they realised that I was still out there. I wasn’t in any rush as by the time I’d stabled the train and then walked out of the depot I still had ten minutes before the taxi to take me back to LES was due to arrive; even then it was late.

Thursday 15 July 2010

Tuesday was featureless, even the last HAI train went ungraffitied but Wednesday proved far more entertaining. Despite the rain Auto was performing nicely until we reached NOR EB when it pulled up two cars short and then at GRE it failed when only halfway in. Rather than carry on like that I put her into Coded Manual and kept like that till WHC where we go into the “Pipe”. Before I start sounding repetitive I’ll state for the last time that Automatic Train Operation would be a great idea if it worked but it’s a long way off.

At SOW EB a man got off the last car, jumped onto his bike and cycled down the platform. I’m sure it comes as no surprise that riding a bike anywhere on a station is not encouraged as it’s downright dangerous to the rider or other passengers and the byelaws state that “No person shall drive or ride any vehicle, bicycle, or other conveyance into or on the premises”. “Other conveyance” can include anything from rollerblades to a large golden retriever and especially those poxy little scooter things that were so popular a while ago. I did once see a twat on a skate board come a cropper at Paddington and while he was left sprawling on the platform his skateboard ended up under the wheels of a Circle Line train. I feel I should say something about idiots removing themselves from the gene pool but can't quite get the phrasing right, not enough sleep today.

On reaching EPP there was only one person asleep, a lady who when informed where she was responded with the plumiest “oh shit” I think I’ve ever heard. Further proof that the alcohol ban has been forgotten was in evidence when I got to the other end of the train. Someone had spilt a can of Carling and the beer had seeped under the J Door so I made the short journey from EPP to LOU with the cab smelling like a pub after kicking out time. This job is just non-stop glamour.......

Tuesday 13 July 2010

Back on nights, the only thing to brighten an otherwise uneventful Sunday was the sighting of an owl between TEB and EPP, it was sat on the cable run and took off as my headlights illuminated it, quite delightful. I had been expecting to find a few drunken Spaniards when I reached the end of the line but apparently a lot of people were unaware that last trains run an hour earlier on a Sunday and were still partying in Trafalgar Square.

Monday passed smoothly but the rain played havoc with Auto this morning, it failed when I was only two cars out of the platform at HAI and then did exactly the same leaving FAI. The GLA Tories’ dream of disposing of train drivers is a long, long way away…..

Saturday 10 July 2010

Apart from the very hot weather not much to report over the last two days. Friday night I finished at HAI and then had to ride back “on the cushions” to LES to book off. At WAN there was a lot of screaming on the platform, a couple of teenagers holding the doors while a friend ambled down the escalators or whatever it is the young fill their time with when they should be shifting their arses and getting onto the train. The TOp made a few world-weary “stand clear of the doors” PAs but we didn’t move for a minute or so.

When I got off at LES I could hear the noisome brats had done the same. They were still following me as I went up the stairs to the EB platform and I could hear one of their number explaining to a friend on her mobile that they had come to LES as they couldn’t be bothered to walk all the way from WAN to SNA, a hideously challenging hike of a whole kilometre (or 1093yds to us old ‘uns). As she reached the top of the stairs behind me there was a scream of horror as the train on the platform closed its doors and headed off towards EPP with the next SNA-bound train a whole ten minutes away.

Had the slowcoach been a little quicker they would have made the connection; oh there is a God and they operate signals……..

Tuesday 6 July 2010

Nothing to report other than Auto broke down when I was about three quarters of the way into TCR and then again at EAA, both WB. The Tories on the London Assembly are calling for the introduction of driverless trains but somehow I think I'll still be here when it's time for me to retire. With the way things are going by the time I reach 65 it will have been extended to 70!

Monday 5 July 2010

Friday passed quietly enough, a little rushed changing ends and a little late finishing but otherwise unspectacular. Saturday I was spare, spent most of the time giving Clive’s aquarium a clean and change of water. Sunday spare again but with the new timetable, no major problems to speak of though I’m sure that any serious faults will not become apparent until we have major incident.

Thursday 1 July 2010

A very quiet day, even the “passenger incident” at STR as I headed back EB on my last trip had been sorted by the time I reached WHC, probably just two drunks having a heated debate over who was Britain’s greatest Prime Minister (“Pitt the Elder!” “Lord Palmerston!!!” “PITT THE ELDER!!!!!!!”).

On the subject of drunks and drinking at the BMA’s annual conference there was a debate on whether drinking should be banned on all forms of public transport on the basis that “If a ban in London is working, why not extend it across the UK?”. Well I can testify that it isn’t working, when I changed ends at NOA yesterday around 5pm I counted two empty wine bottles and at least four beer cans. When it was first brought in we did get passengers approach the cab to inform us that someone was drinking on the train and we had to go back and sort it out but after a couple of month or so it was all forgotten.

The BMA rejected the motion, calling instead for a properly enforced ban on drunkenness on public transport. Actually under the Railway Byelaws 2009 you can be refused entry to or removed from a station or train if a member of staff considers you to be “unfit to be on the railway” as you may present a danger to other passengers, staff or even yourself. It isn’t used much and I doubt if many station staff know about it, half of London wouldn’t get home on a Friday night if they did but I did use it once to stop a drunk bloke who was pestering a woman one night when I was working the ticket barrier.

The power, the power!!!!