Thursday 30 September 2010

On Tuesday we were told by the trainer that the four TOps from HAI and LOU would be doing stock training while the three from LES would be doing “Route retention” with an IOp. However the DMT meant to be organising all this is off to the Met Line in the big reshuffle and seems to have lost interest in things around here. We met up at LES 09:00 yesterday to be told that the IOp had gone to HAI.

When he arrived he didn’t have a clue what to do and only around 10:30 told us that “Route retention” now meant hiking around Ruislip depot. Apparently someone had refused to take a train into Ruislip and now we all had to have a guided tour to “re-familiarise” ourselves. So an hour on the train, a pointless wander around the depot, which is huge, covering every possible move we could do which most of us know and then an hour back.

Today we did stock training in HAI depot with the IOp simulating faults on the train and us getting the train moving. If a train stops in a tunnel and the nearest technician is at WHC or LES we have to get it to the next station and get the passengers off. It doesn’t happen often but when it does it’s our train, we are responsible. They don’t do that on the mainline, they can sit and wait while a fitter drives to where they are and walk up to the train to fix it. We are stuck in the pipe, a fitter isn’t going to walk up to us and solve the problem, we get it moving and we are the only drivers who are expected to do this.

That is why we get paid the big bucks.

Wednesday 29 September 2010

I passed my eyesight test, I have demonstrated that I know how to scrape ice from the juice rails, lay a short circuiting device, that I know what to do if we get a “Code Amber”, “Code Red” or “Emergency Evacuation” call over the radio and what the correct procedure would be if I SPADed a signal, opened the doors on the wrong side or was to be told to evacuate my train in both a tunnel or an open section. So far so good……

Tuesday 28 September 2010

Under RAOGS aka The Railways and Other Guided Transport Systems (Safety) Regulations 2006 anyone working on a UK railway has to have the appropriate licence issued on behalf of the Office of the Rail Regulation, so every year we get sent off to re-sit our license at our Annual Test of Rules, ATOR. This consists of three days in a meeting room going over procedures, one day in the depot showing that we can deal with any faults that might occur on a train while it’s in service and one day demonstrating that we understand any move we might be asked to do on the Line.

Don’t expect much till next week. So boring I could feel myself falling asleep........

Monday 27 September 2010

So this how things were supposed to be Saturday; I start work around 16:00, go to HAI, EAB, HAI, LES, get off on the WB for grub around 19:30, pick up again at 20:15, HAI, EAB, WOO via HAI, back to EAB, off around midnight.

Except some ragamuffin decided it would be a spiffing idea to grab some lady’s handbag/purse/whatever and make their escape down the WB tunnel at LAG. The Line was brought to a complete standstill in both directions while BTP waited at QUE and LAG for the villain to reappear. My first train turned after 20 minutes, around the time BTP finally accepted that he wasn’t going to come out of his own accord and set off to flush him out.

I got to HAI without any problem and then sat there for half an hour before we finally got the “all clear” and I started heading west. I got held at BOS for another ten minutes, no word from Wood Lane as to why. I’m making PAs telling the passengers that not only am I sat at a red signal but I can see the taillights of the one in front in the tunnel between us and MAA while the station’s automated PAs are blurting out their “we have a good service” announcements; au contraire. It was only after we were moving again that the signals answered my call and I discovered they’d been tipping a train out at MAA.

Another five minutes outside WHC, no word from Wood Lane but as I pulled in I could see a train going into the sidings and that the platform was crowded with very pissed off looking people. As I left WHC I could see the train in the sidings still had WER as it’s destination which would suggest that they hadn’t told the driver they were short turning the train until they’d reached WHC. At EAB I had four minutes to change ends before setting off EB at which the time I should have been arriving at HAI. At this point Wood Lane were telling us there were only “minor delays” to the line.

By the time I’d got to LES EB it was 19:55 and there was someone waiting to take me off for grub. Sadly for one of the spares my second train was on time, at CHA EB, a mere 19 minutes away, which didn’t give me the 30 minutes break that is legally required so someone got to do my HAI and back and I picked up on the WB by which time it was ten minutes late. After that everything went timetable.

In conclusion I think the only thing I can offer is that the platform of LAG is possibly not the best place to commit an act of robbery.

Saturday 25 September 2010

Sitting spare, HAI had a duty uncovered with no spare of their own so they called us up and I was given the job. The only problem was when they bothered to tell us there wasn’t enough time for me to get to HAI, walk into the depot, do a brake test and bring it out on time. Still I just drive, I don’t have to worry about the service, that’s someone else’s problem.

Congestion back to normal, the bottom of the stairs at LEY EB was as rammed as usual, yesterday must have been an aberration. Still a few platforms without SATS in the peak so I reckon this must be a result of the overtime ban. Otherwise a very quiet evening.

Friday 24 September 2010

Timetable. When I came out to pick up my second half at WHC it was raining heavily and the train came to a stop about a car short so rather than trust Auto for the trip to EAB I drove in Coded.

Oddly it seemed very quiet during the peak, the platforms appeared less crowded that I would usually expect. One place that gets very congested during the peak is LEY EB, we have a “countdown” in the cab and usually there are still people getting off the rear car when it gets to zero with a queue to get up the stairs but not tonight. On the second time through it was back to it's normal busy level so maybe everyone decided to pop out for a drink after work or something.

During the peak most Zone 1 platforms have a member of station staff doing SATS, waving the baton to your normal people, but a few were noticeably absent. Station staff have an overtime ban so maybe this is the result. RMT and TSSA are out on strike again in October, according to the memo sent out by our beloved leader they wouldn’t discuss anything until the job cuts had been cancelled, no doubt the Unions will tell another story. Still they have a few weeks to go, anything could happen.

Wednesday 22 September 2010

First real day back, first time opening the doors on both sides at STR WB, we have even been given a scripted PA to make at LEY to inform the passengers which doors to leave by. There’s a member of staff on the new platform to raise the baton when we close the doors and two I.Ops to “offer assistance” and check that we’ve done things properly.

No major problems, a passenger ill on a train (PIOT, another abbreviation from our massive list) at STR kept me outside NOA EB for a while and then some lost property at LEY kept me at TCR for five minutes so by the time I left EPP I should have been getting off at LOU for my meal break. Otherwise reasonably timetable.

WE have engineering works coming up in October that will shut the line down between WOO and LIS and in a bid to save money LUL have come up with an interesting idea. Rather than laying on taxis to ferry TOps four at a time from LOU, HAI and LES to LIS we will get the replacement bus service to STR and go in on the mainline. Needless to say some of my fellow TOps are none too keen on sitting in full uniform on a bus full of passengers pissed off that there’s no service. Will be interesting to see how that one plays out….

Tuesday 21 September 2010

It’s work, Jim, but not as we know it. I’m on lates this week and I knew I was starting Monday at 14:00 but when I phoned up last week to check my finishing time I was told that I had been released for a Waterloo & City line refresher. Word is that recently a spare was asked to go down the Drain and they claimed that their training wasn’t up to date as they hadn’t been down there in years so now they are making sure we are all reintroduced.

So I was at Waterloo for 09:00, much to the amusement of the regulars who know the only other time I've been down there was for my initial training and I managed to avoid that for three years. I endured a very boring morning going over the same thing I did last year and then drove a train up and down for a bit. All it did was to confirm that I find working the W&C tedious in the extreme. Back on the Main tomorrow, at a reasonable time.

Friday 3 September 2010

Once again I find myself apologising for not writing but despite switching to late turns I’m still waking up at 3am and feeling dog tired all day. Nothing much has happened recently, no amusing anecdotes to relate, TSSA and RMT will go on strike next week but I will be on two weeks leave as of Sunday so I will miss all the fun until the next planned date in October.

On Sunday platform 3A will be opening at STR WB so we will be opening the doors on both sides of the train from this weekend. Naturally we are predicating that someone will forget and only open on one side leaving a load of irate passengers behind.

One of my colleagues is going for six month’s secondment as a DMT and as I’m top of the list in the Pool to be rostered I’m covering him in his absence so I can plan my life once more. Which is nice….

If something does happen in the next two days I will relay it here but if not I will be back in sixteen days time. Take care out there, folks.