Tuesday 14 January 2014

I will admit that I am not the sharpest tool in the box, I’m not the dullest either but sometimes being of middling intelligence can be intensely frustrating.  I will never be a great debater, certain aspects of philosophy still elude me and at times my inarticulacy can be infuriating, sometimes I struggle to remember the word “inarticulacy” as my dear friend Treacle can testify (our first “encounter” was quite a struggle but God bless her for being persistent).  To my credit I am a ponderer, give me enough time to contemplate a subject and I will eventually spot something that I would have initially overlooked.  Thankfully spending large portions of my working day staring down a dark tunnel with only four rails stretching out in front of me into the gloom and the occasional signal to check I get plenty of time with my own thoughts.

One of the main concerns about the changes to staffing on stations seems to be with the “Local B” stations that will lose Supervisors and be staffed by a CSA.  I’ve read numerous comments voicing the concern that when the CSA goes on their meal break the station will be unstaffed but unless things have changed in the last ten years I would imagine that in future exactly the same will happen as happens now when the Super goes on a meal break.  There will be a rostered “meal break” duty or two, travelling from station to station filling in for half an hour at each except that rather than it being a Super it will be a CSA and in a pinch the roving CSM2 can cover.

There will now be night turn CSAs although whether they will be able to book on contractors working on the station is another matter, the CSM2 will probably be there which would mean only one station can be worked on each night.  When you consider the extra CSAs that will be needed to cover night turns and the roving “meal break” then even after an increase of 276 to 2500 with the addition of 486 CSA2s and the few SAMFs who’ve transformed into CSS(ticket hall) I doubt if there will be much difference in the number of bodies actually working out on the stations at any given time.  So while LUL can truthfully claim that they are moving people out from behind glass and sticking them in the ticket halls there will be a lot more for them to do.

An important issue is that every member of staff has to book on for duty with someone so that whoever is doing the booking on can assess if the person is fit for duty, exactly how that will be managed if there’s only one CSM covering several stations and CSAs booking on at the same time at each station remains to be seen.  One solution will be for every CSA to book on at a given station in an “Area” and then travel to the station they are going to work at, the only disadvantage would be that they would need “travelling time” at the start and end of each duty which reduces the amount of time they would actually spend working on stations.

Over on trains we have the question of how to staff 24 hour running at weekends.  At the moment we have six night duties on the Central Line, two at HAI, three and a spare at LES, each working seven night shifts a week followed by a week of three lates and four rest days.  Under “Night Tube” the aim is to run a train every 15 minutes which would mean a dozen trains needed on the Central Line to cover HAI – EAB, at a rough guess would need 15, maybe 16 TOps plus a few spares.  As the EPP and WER branches will not be operating I doubt if LOU or WER will be providing staff so that leaves LES, HAI and WHC.

The obvious question is what to do with all those extra night duties during the week when we aren’t running 24 hours, there’s only so many last trains they can stable and first trains they can bring out before the 8 hour maximum starts to get stretched and there’s no point having loads of spares sitting around kicking their heels.  Someone suggested that we might have weeks where you worked lates  with two nights at weekend but I suspect that in future a week of nights will be five shifts and two rest days with everyone working on Friday and Saturday which means the loss of the very attractive three day week afterwards.

All ponderings, things might work out totally different, we’ll just have to wait until 2015 to see how the great scheme actually works or if it works at all.


  1. in time to come (see hindsight), I can see the phrase "Now you clearly didn't think this through........" being bandied, and the mess will be left to the operational grades to clear up as usual, whilst Mr Hufton goes the way of Mr Collins!!!

  2. About the booking on of contractors at night - the draft job description for CSA1 has "Allowing access to contractors and visitors including issuing keys" in the "Key Interfaces" section which I took to read as covering the access requirements at night out in the Local B stations

    1. I didn't think CSAs had the authority to book-on contractors but then I've not worked on stations for over ten years so my memory is a bit hazy. I guess it's allowable for non-safety critical contractors and any safety critical work will have their own supervisor to ensure that they comply with ROGS.

  3. Unfortunately the regulations only require that the competence and fitness of safety critical workers only has to be reassessed when there is a reason to doubt a employee's competence or fitness, or when "there has been a significant change in the matters to which the assessment relates". On the mainline, booking on using an automated telephone system is common, hence incidents of untrained people filling in for their mates or alcoholic conductors turning up for work pissed (though I'd be really interested to find out how he managed to ring the bell from outside the train...)