Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Despite what the papers say I will not be making £50k this year.

The deal is a 5% rise which will bring us up to £44.5k and then which ever is greater of RPI + 0.5% or 2% for the next three years. Sadly I lack the Daily Mail’s crystal ball because I don’t know what RPI is going to be in February or beyond but over the last year various financial institutions have forecast that it will be anywhere between 1.2% and 5.7% with opinion on 2012 and 2013 equally varied.

If we got the 2% for the rest of the pay deal we’d be on £47.3k the next time unions and management start all this palaver again. Admittedly we do get more than some train drivers on the mainline but we are still behind others, Arriva Cross Country are currently on £48.7k, Eurostar on £49.5k, Virgin West Coast £49.6k, and East Coast Mainline £50.8k. And they have guards on their trains while we have to do both jobs.

The deal was done after a meeting at ACAS where both sides accepted their recommendations; how that constitutes the unions “blackmailing London” is beyond me.

Other than that we suffered a small degree of late running but no major incidents on Tuesday though it felt decidedly odd starting work at 9am and then going home around 5pm.


  1. I'm a layman who has nothing apart from mild interest in the industry, and I found your post. Thanks for clarifying the actual figures.

    Even so, from the perspective of people who read about this in the papers - after weeding out the hyperbole - it still seems mildly unjust to compare the LU salaries with train drivers who have a more complex job that what is done on the tube. Logic would say that, with a free market at least, where complexity is a natural barrier to a technical job, then if the job becomes easier there will be less scarcity, meaning salaries fall. But apparently, LU drivers' salaries haven't fallen, they have risen. Meanwhile the job has become less technical (or more bluntly, less "skilled")

    Is this a fair observation, in your opinion?

  2. I think its not as such less skill.. Its a rail network which runs the lowest speeds but also has more signals per mile and more stations per route than mainline...
    Its hard to justify a Tube Drivers salary because you could say that the job requires more concentration than a mainline drivers job but then there are the trains that I work on, 186mph requires a HUGE amount of concentration....
    I sort of agree that LU drivers are paid a bit too much but thats only because of the unions, should there be no unions all rail staff would be on crap pay..

    Back on subject because I'm waffling.... I would say it is and it isn't skilled... Drivers are taught what to do when the train fails, but there is a LOT of route/stock knowledge.... You have to be able to identify where you are on your line should things go wrong, you have to know where pretty much all of the signals are on the line, not forgetting fog/banner repeaters and shunt signals. Youve got to know all the moves and shunts you can do, knowing the line speed limits especially when youre coming to a controlled approach signal...... the list goes on and on.
    Driving the train is the easiest part of the job but its everything that happens which you public dont see that you dont appreciate.

  3. Not to mention having on track fatalities comes as a hazard on the job....

  4. I’m not sure that other train drivers “have a more complex job” than “on the tube” or that “the job has become less technical” The majority of trains are still manually driven, only three lines operate under ATO and as I’ve documented in this blog it fails on a regular basis on the Central. Nor will it get the train in and out of sidings or depots.

    When a defect appears on the train we have to be able to get that train moving to the next station and be able to do so without compromising safety. Despite never suffering a main line air burst since becoming a TOp next week I will be asked to explain how to get a train moving in the event of one occurring as part of my ATOR.

    We are paid for what we might be required to do rather than what we actually do day-to-day.

  5. But lets be honest.. You cant touch anything on the undersides? So I guess its only MCB's and isolation switches that you can cut out to get the thing rolling?
    Main line burst... What would you do mate? I guess you have to isolate the burst at either end of the car its on so maybe you guys have a Main Res Isolating Cock?
    I guess you also have to take off the brakes on the effected bogies? How would you do that? Some spring applied brake or something?

  6. Well it's kinda hard to walk down the side of the train in a tunnel especially the side with the juice rail and there's not much clearance between track and train. Isolate the unit, cut out the compressor and the governor, vent off the remaining air to release the brakes and then pull it through the spring-applied.

    Unless the burst is on the lead unit in which case you won't get a brake release in the cab so you need another TOp in the rear cab driving on your instructions. Just don't get the wrong handle when isolating the unit otherwise you'll end up with a break-away. Whoops......

    It's quite fun having the IOps and trainers simulating the various defects on a train in the depot, having to identify what's wrong and then getting the bugger moving again.

  7. ah cool mate..

    I had to do something like that when I first started at Eurostar as an engineer. It was a good laugh to say the least!

    Gets all a bit confusing when our trains have 7 types of signalling systems and 3 braking systems!

  8. I have to do it every year to renew my licence. Some old sorts still talk fondly of the Westinghouse, a bit before my time.

    Is it true that all Eurostar drivers have to be fluent in French so they know what the the signaller is going on about on the other side of the tunnel, or were those Eurostar managers yanking my chain?

  9. Westinghouse brakes are the best.... in my opinion. Nothing like the westinghouse brake on the A stock. Lap the handle and boom, smooth brakes!
    Yes, our drivers need to speak french for when they hit the Eurotunnel, I would have thought that they only need to know enough to be able to understand and answer to the signaller but the company does run language courses.
    You also need 5 years of high speed driving to be able to apply for the Drivers job so I hear.

    So you know some Eurostar managers?

    Any chance we can have a chat in private? Like email or something?

  10. Sorry mate my email is leepeppiatt@googlemail.com

  11. well there you go training is a wonderfull thing