Wednesday 27 October 2010

My deepest apologies for my unforgivable tardiness but I have had various personal and domestic upheavals to deal with since last writing and subsequently the muse deserted me. Not that much has happened, last week while the rest of the Tube seemed to go into complete collapse the Central Line carried on serenely. Oh yes, we are “The Man”

Sunday started off quiet enough, a single body asleep, woke him up and had to explain just where EPP was; ahhhhh, an “overshoot” virgin. At LOU I directed him towards the buses and saw him boarding the 20 heading back into town as I left the station.

In the morning I took the first train up to EPP, changed ends and when the signal changed pushed the Auto start buttons; nothing. I switched into Coded, tried the handle for brake release; still nothing. Even though I was getting codes I tripped the ATP MCB just to be sure but still nothing. I closed down and opened up again; yet more nothing. I tried Restricted, ah, brake release. I called up Wood Lane, they asked me if I done all of the above, were equally bemused and gave me authority to proceed down to THB in RM.

EPP to THB is 2.54km, a journey of two and a half minutes if you get up to line speed, 85kph. It takes a bit longer if “overspeed trip” activates the emergency brake if you venture above 15kph and as EPP to THB is all downhill this means you have to keep applying the brake at regular intervals. When I arrived Wood Lane called up to say they’d had a word with the train maintainer who’d prepped the trains at LOU that night, they suggested that there might be a loose connection on one of the brake test buttons and I should give them a few prods. I dutifully did and hey presto, we have forward movement in Auto.

And my immediate question was if the Train Maintainer “suspected” there was a loose connections on one of the brake test buttons why the hell didn’t they fix it when they were working on the train Sunday night?

Monday night went smoothly enough but Tuesday morning after I’d crawled into RUI depot I got onto the train, completed the brake test and only realised I’d got onto the wrong train when the shunter called me up. A quick hop next door, brake test and off we go, fortunately I always walk in a bit early so no time lost.

But it was Tuesday night that the fun really started. Going WB I was held at WOO while an empty train came over the points and went into the sidings. Had I not been held I wouldn’t have seen the man walking along the path at the side of the EB track. Now he could have been P Way but he wasn’t wearing a hi-vi and on the whole P Way don’t wear suits. I opened up the cab door and asked him where he was going.

Obvious drunk he demanded to know why there wasn’t a gate for him to leave by so I informed him that he was on the track and directed him back towards the platform. This was greeted with a torrent of abuse regarding my parentage and my sexual orientation, some of which may or may not be true, I have done many things while under one influence or another some of which I can only vague recall but as I am the second of three children I think it fair to say my parents were most certainly married when I entered the world.

After that things went fine although I was running around 4 late until I reached MAA. Ahead of me the last EAB had been stopped by signal failure and had lost codes over the points E of QUE. As it was a “controlled” area the TOp needed authority from Wood Lane to continue but Wood Lane couldn’t confirm that it was okay to proceed as they had lost control due to the signal failure. The normal procedure at this point would be for the Super at QUE to get onto the track and physically secure the points but they couldn’t do that as the train was already over them. With all this going on I was told to hold at MAA and they worked things out. I kept the passengers informed the best I could and we finally got moving around 01:00 by which time NHG and SHB had closed as all the staff apart from the Supers had finished their shifts and gone home. Larks, eh?

Monday 18 October 2010

The West End of the line is definitely less boisterous that the East, three nights at WER and not one sleeper to show for it. I have nights again next week and I’m going to see if anyone wants to swap my last WERs for last EPPs just so I’ve got something to write about!

Over the weekend we had engineering works closing the line from LIS to LES. Friday night I was spare and the DMT told me that I might have to cover one of the early turns up until my duty finished around 07:00. When we checked we found that even though the first four booked on around 05:00 they were being sent in a taxi to WER to get trains out of the depot, the earliest coming out at 06:45. That obviously didn’t give me enough time to get back to LES to finish so I couldn’t cover anything.

Saturday night I shared a taxi to LIS with another night shift TOp as I was on the last WER again while they were taking the last EAB and then stabling at WHC. After that I was getting a taxi to LOU to bring out the first train in the morning while other TOp was going from WHC to HAI. We assumed that we’d be in the same taxi but we had on one each. Until last week the plan was to shut the line all the way out to LOU and I was booked to take a third taxi at the end of my shift to get me back to LES so I could go home.

All these taxis would seem a tad extravagant at a time when we are being told that we need to save money but what really makes us laugh is that during the day TOps from the East End depots who were booked to pick up trains at LIS were told that they would have to use the replacement buses to get from LES to STR and then get the mainline service into LIS. It was fortunate for everyone that the mainline didn’t develop any problems otherwise there would have been TOps arriving at LIS expecting to go home and finding no one to replace them. They would have had to take the train back to WHC, get relieved there and only then head back to their depots.

If we ever needed further evidence that the people making these plans up at 55 are somewhat out of touch with the people working down here then this is more than enough.

Tuesday 12 October 2010

Last week was thoroughly uninteresting and I started nights Sunday.

When I got to EPP there were two sleepers both of whom resisted waking and so I took them onto LOU. The first case was a homeless bloke with all his worldly possessions in a rucksack and collection of carrier bags. The second was a lad in a suit who was laid out along the seats face down and snoring. When the SS finally woke him he asked where he was but he’d never heard of LOU. I later saw him getting on a bus and could here him asking the driver for the destination. It would seem he had no idea where Walthamstow was either. When I went back to the station to get the first train out in the morning the man with the carrier bags was still waiting outside and he boarded the train as it came back WB from EPP.

Wednesday 6 October 2010

It would appear that last week while I was away doing ATOR the Central Line went through quite a bad patch. One derailment inside RUI depot by one of the shunters, another in LOU sidings by a TOp, a section of trackside cable was stolen that closed the line from LES to EPP and then sadly a one-under at LES last Friday. I’m told the family were allowed to place flowers by the track; nice to see a bit of feeling from LUL, makes a change.

Monday was strike day and in previous strikes when we’ve had enough TOps we’ve run shuttle services between LES and HAI or EPP on the east end of the line and between WHC and WER or EAB on the west but on Monday we tried something different. The plan seems to have been to run the “outer” shuttles from start of traffic till around 10:00 then abandon those and replace it with a service through the “middle” from LES to WHC, reverting to the “outer” shuttles after 20:00. Or at least that was the plan.

Apparently while we had plenty of TOps turn up but there weren’t enough staff at Wood Lane to run the show and the line didn’t get running till after 10:00. Although I'm told there were pickets a-plenty outside my depot in the morning by the time I strolled into work they had all left and while I wouldn’t cross a picket line if someone asked me not to I’ll be buggered if I’m going to lose a day’s pay if they can’t be bothered to hang around for me.

Even though we were running through the middle almost half the stations were closed, ATO couldn’t handle all the closures so consequently we had to go Coded through the Pipe which was actually quite fun. Everything went fine until we got to point where it was time to switch from working the “middle” to the “outer” lines. At LES the DMT on the desk was putting TOps from WHC and WER on the front of WB trains while at WHC the opposite was happening. Somehow there was a miscount and there wasn’t a West End TOp to take the last WHC train. Guess who volunteered…….

Obviously as I was heading WB the last train to LES was going the other way and we passed each other around CLA. The only way to get me back for my finishing time was for LUL to cough up for taxi back across town which I shared with a WHC DMT who lives over this side of town. Turns out exactly the same thing happened at WHC with the last LES train; more business for the taxis.

There’s a third strike in four weeks and a fourth four weeks after that, obviously they are being planned so staff only lose one day out of every pay period. All pointless, the job cuts have been coming ever since LUL decided to go with Oyster cards, it was one of the reasons I decided there was no future in carrying on at stations and move onto trains and I am glad I did.

Saturday 2 October 2010

Friday we went to White City for communications and responsibilities otherwise known as how to use the radio and how not to get sacked. Thrilling. Thankfully I’m back to work Monday, or not if the picket line hasn’t gone to the pub by the time I book on.