Friday 26 April 2013

Thursday was chaos.  For some reason a signal fault in the LEY-LES area meant that we had no idea where any of the trains were, neither the predictor nor Trackernet was working .  I’d never experienced this before but it meant that the TOps had no idea how late their trains were, if they were going WB or EB, or even if they’d been cancelled.  Wood Lane were too busy trying to sort out the mess to answer questions so we just waited until a TOp arrived expecting to be relieved then called the DTSM to tell them which number train they were trying to offload so that the DTSM could call up the appropriate TOp.

My duty was a five and a half hour snip, LES-NOR-WHC with 45 minutes for grub then WHC-EPP-WER-LES but 10 minutes after I was due to pick up the DTSM told me that my train was in LOU sidings.  After two trains went through to HAI via NEP I got an EPP train which ended up terminating at LOU, not a good time to be on a train in uniform.  My NOR became a WHC but the time I’d walked into the sidings, got the train out and reached LES I was an hour down and should have been at NOR waiting to come back EB, I was only at HOL when I was meant to be getting off.

I arrived at WHC with exactly 30 minutes before my next pick up but that turned out to be running 10 minutes down.  I spent the rest of the shift heading off as soon as I’d changed ends and by the end I was back on time.  Then I had to spend an hour and a half moving the goldfish from one tank to another as the room where their tank is situated will be fumigated today as someone complained that they were bitten by something while in there.  Clive, Slick and Jagger looked about as happy as the passengers on the train at LOU, I never knew goldfish could look vexed.

Tuesday 23 April 2013

Only one incident of note, a “platforms and hold” for a train with door problems at BOS WB around 17:15 Sunday evening.  I was at TCR gazing at the taillights of the train at OXO for ten minutes as my meal relief ticked away before Wood Lane announced that the door problem couldn’t be fixed and that the train would be tipped out.  Shortly after we were given “clear signals and codes” and when I arrived at OXO the front end of the platform was noticeably more crowded that the tail end, obviously as that is where people arrive on the platform and then don’t walk any further.

The difference was even more noticeable at BOS, about a dozen people on the back half while the front half was so crowded had you tried to get any more people on the platform you’d have ended up with bodies on the track.  And this despite the pleadings of the station staff to move down the platform away from the entrance, they just stood there like cattle.

People were still trying to cram onto the front half of the train at MAA but when I pulled out at LAG I could see on the CCTV that I had empty seats on the rear two cars even though hardly anybody had got off from that end.  What makes this even more bizarre is that at LAG, QUE and NOG where most people got off the exits are towards the middle and rear of the train so heading towards the back end of the platform would save time and shoe leather.

Answers on a postcard, please.

Saturday 20 April 2013

Okay I’m back again, I won’t go into the whys and wherefores for my absence but one is that there’s been very little happening when I’ve been at work.  We managed to have three “one unders” on the Central Line within two weeks but I was either having a day off or it was before I started so I only got the tail end of the disruption.  There have also been a number of “platforms and hold” for various reasons, handles down, signal failure, train faults, passengers ill but they all seem to have been either in the other direction, behind me or so far in front that they’d been resolved before I got there.

I actually had a new experience a couple of weeks ago with a signal failure at NOA, at STP I was told to reverse over the rarely used crossover at QUE, something I’d never done since I started as a TOp.  For years this was out of commission, I’ve heard various reasons, one being that when they introduced the 92 stock trains they were taller than the old stock and used to hit the tunnel wall when going across the points, another being that there were problems with the track bed.  Whatever the reason we perform the move at a stately 10kph.

Unlike MAA, HOL or LIS where you sit in the sidings until it’s time for you to come out again at QUE the WB train goes into the EB platform so I had trains stacking up behind me and had to head straight back as quickly as possible.  All I had left to do was go to HAI and into the depot which I did a lot earlier than timetabled but I didn’t get much of an extended meal break thanks to either the staff at HAI station’s dislike of making PAs or Wood Lane’s inability to communicate with them.

When I got back to the station there were trains on Plat. 2 and Plat.3 but the dot matrix board by the gateline indicated that the first WB train would leave from Plat.1 in 15 minutes.  A train duly arrived, I got on board, it sat there for well over the 15 minutes and then the train on Plat.3 closed its doors and left without a soul on board. Fortunately I was sat in the lead car and all the other passengers where further back along the train otherwise as the only uniformed presence I might have been the victim of severe scowling.

Last week I got held outside WOO on the WB, I could see the train on the platform and assumed that it was tipping out to go up 21 road.  I did my PA within the required 30 seconds to inform my passengers of the cause of the delay and after two minutes called up Wood Lane to see if there was a problem.  The train was indeed going up 21 road but the points had failed and Wood Lane told me that they were going to “jiggle them about a bit” to see if they could rectify the problem.  And so I passed on that information to my passengers, the first time I’ve been able to use the word “jiggle” in a PA announcement.  It will not be the last.