Thursday 13 February 2014

Following my last post there have been some comments about what TOps could expect from “Fit for future; trains” and there seemed to be the opinion that we’d be facing something similar to station staff, with downgrading, wage cuts and working anywhere on the network.  I’m not so pessimistic as I think what people have missed is the fundamental difference between how stations and trains operate.

On stations you had three grades of Supervisor along with SAMFs, SACRs and CSAs, all carrying out separate functions but on trains you only have TOps or IOps and when IOps aren’t training, which is most of the time, they do exactly the same job as TOps.   

Salaries aren’t being cut on stations, CSMs will be paid the same as SSs and any SAMF/SACR who is fortunate enough to get a CSS position will actually get a pay rise.  The big difference is that there are fewer jobs at a higher salary, staff are being downgraded, not asked to do the same job for less.  Unless the plan is for TOps on ATO lines get less than those on manual lines then there isn’t much fiddling around you can do but even that would run into difficulties.

What would happen when the ATO lines had to work manual, would TOps get paid at the higher level?  When they finally get around to converting the Sub Surface lines to ATO will TOps be paid less when they cross into the sections that have been converted?  Shunting in and out of sidings, when we’re asked to go Coded because there’s trouble on the platform ahead?  Working on the Waterloo and City?  In bad weather would Wood Lane have to decide if they could afford to instruct trains in open section go Coded?

Station staff can work anywhere provided they’ve been familiarised at the station, TOps can only drive the stock they’ve been trained to operate and the line they’re licenced for.  If they wanted to send me to Golders Green or Acton Town I’d need to be trained on the stock and then spend time learning the “road”, it would be at least 6-8 weeks before I could start working on my own.

I don’t know what LUL will propose next year but the restrictions TOps work under make it very hard to mess with our jobs.  Yes, they could impose a wage cut across the board but they’d be facing another joint strike except this time they wouldn’t be able to use office staff “ambassadors” to fill in driving trains.  "Flexibility" on stations will be very different from "Flexibility" on trains.


  1. It's always intrigued me that TOps on a 'just press go' (though I realise it's not always as simple as that) line like the Victoria have the same status as those on the Metropolitan whose jobs are little different from mainline drivers. Is there a pecking order between the different lines? Are there queues of people wanting to switch to a depot where they can do more/less manual driving?

  2. No. We are paid for the level of knowledge that is required rather than the actual work we do, all TOps have to be able to drive trains (possibly the simplest part of the job) rather than simply be "door openers" as the Tories on the GLA like to imagine. At LES we get paid the same as other TOps on the Central even though we have shifts on the W&C which they aren't trained to do. I'm trained to work the W&C although I avoid it whenever possible, not because I have to drive in manual but because it's mind numbingly dull.

  3. I think you're underestimating the desire of London Underground to save money. If as you say there is not much they can do to Train Ops roles or salary why would LU even bother putting together a Fit For London trains document? The very fact that it exists means there are enough proposals to fill it. As you say they could divide the ATO/manual drivers into two grades, you then raise lots of What if scenarios why that wouldn't work but Station staff have raised lots of What if scenarios as well but the changes are still barrelling towards us regardless.

    Flexibility on Trains may be very different to Flexibility on stations but either way the goal is to save money and that money is going to come from somewhere

    1. I have no doubt LUL want to save money but I think you're missing the point, on stations there are different grades with different levels of training, the more you were trained to do the more you get paid, all they've done is change how many and what is needed where. On trains there's just one grade, we all get the same level of training, you couldn't have TOps who can drive but can't handle faults.

      If they do suggest paying TOps on ATO lines less then they're going to have a bit of a headache with the Waterloo & City, do TOps at Leytonstone get paid more that the rest of the Central Line or do we just get higher grade working when we get a 700 duty? Another difference is it's unlikely any of us are going to be offered voluntary redundancy, TOp numbers have been rising for the last 10 years and will continue to rise as they increase services, more trains needs more TOps.

      Stations was an easy place to save money, that was one of the reasons behind Oyster, to dispense of ticket offices. Until we get driverless operation every train needs someone on the front and they need to be fully trained.

    2. All you've done is point out the stuff you don't think they could feasibly do, You haven't said what you think they will do? The fact remains that they are going to do something which means either they will just ignore the potential pitfalls you describe and do it anyway or they have a set of changes that hasn't even occurred to anyone yet.

      Or maybe they'll go for pensions first and save the money there first

    3. Apologies, I feel my last post may have come across as slightly combative. Obviously I hope I'm wrong and Fit for Future Stations is the worst of it but I feel that may be wishful thinking on all our parts

  4. District line Dave14 February 2014 at 14:00

    Firstly, I think the "Fit for Future: Trains" will be to do with the 24 hour running proposals. Many depots don't have night turns. I'm guessing they'll want more of us to do them (not a bad thing as it should increase numbers, which they've said will happen anyway).

    The most likely things will be flexible working. Removing the same start/finish locations, remote train pick ups etc. Again, not too bad, but realistically doesn't work (they'll find out the hard way).

    One of the biggest changes will be for the SSR I reckon. I can see myself driving from Upminster to Wimbledon via King's Cross a lot. Again, not against it, but it does mean the above will be needed.

    They may try the whole "driverless" thing but most of the SSR (& Bakerloo) shares it's track with NR, requiring knowledge of NR rules/not automated, and everything else is Section 12. Unless years of Health & Safety regulations are undone I can't see it happening.

    Wages are industry standard. Even if they made us all "guards" they'd still need to pay us around £40k (same as DLR/most TOC's).

    Staff passes/Taxis will probably be attacked. Good for PR points.

    Finally, pensions. Well I'm in my 20's and my hope of having one (government paid or otherwise) is long gone. They'll either get us to accept the changes or find a way to "lose" all our money.

    Everyone needs to remember that BoJo is gone in a couple of years. By the end of this year he'll lose all the "clout" he thinks he has. This is all talk aimed at him getting a boost up the ladder (Prime Minister, President of the USA, Uber World ruler, whatever he wants to call himself). Whomever takes over will carry on with his plans or completely rip them apart. Personally, I don't think the blues will have a hope in hell, so whomever does take over will probably be looking to rip it up.

    1. I agree with the above anonymous and Dave. If their going to save money, pensions is the way to go. Most young staff don't expect to get a final salary pension anyways. Im sure changes are coming for drivers but who knows what they are

    2. Night Tube will not include the Sub Surface and Bakerloo initially, just the ATO lines with the Piccadilly and I don’t think there will be any major changes to the Sub Surface running (eg Night Tube, Upminster to Wimbledon via King's Cross) until they get the signalling upgrade and as much as they say that the 2018 completion date will be unaffected I’m not sure anyone believes that.

      At the risk of sounding repetitive Mike Brown admitted that the Deep Level project would cost £12bn and would take around ten years, the Treasury cuts to TfL’s budget seem to have put this on indefinite hold, the Piccadilly might get new trains which might or might not be driverless but the Central and Bakerloo will carry on with their old stock well into the next decade.

      Trying to downgrade us all to guards seems unlikely especially as we are all trained as drivers while staff passes, taxis and pensions aren’t driver only issues, that effects other staff, as none of these were included in the changes to stations it seems unlikely they’re going to introduce them under Fit for Future – trains.

      I wouldn’t be so sure about Boris either, they’ve virtually finished selecting candidates for the next General Election and he’s not put his name forward for a seat. If he’s not heading for Westminster and the Tory leadership then I doubt if he’s going to simply head off into the wilderness and he’s already hinted he might run for a third term as Mayor in 2016.

  5. As I pointed out somewhere else:

    The people who devised the Fit For The Future plan are paid hundreds of thousands of pounds a year on the basis that these salaries are industry going rate and they need to recruit and retain competent executives. Therefore we must assume that they deliberately created a plan which would put them on a headlong collision course with the most militant union and that would undoubtably bring out other unions that represent station staff as well. In other words, they (the executive managers of LU) engineered the strike action seen last week. Possibly they miscalculated public opinion, possibly they didn't, but in any event they managed to get ministers involved decrying the transport unions and baying for legislation forbidding all-out striking. I'm pretty sure that that is the card that they wish to hold / the result that they wished to achieve.
    Now, why would they want all-out strikes outlawed? Possibly because they wanted to castrate the transport unions before they revealed a plan which would have even the most mild mannered and genial of unions up in arms.
    Mark my words, there's something rotten on the horizon. The drivers are in a stronger position than stations, and they wouldn't be worth their >£300k salaries if they didn't know that in every fibre of their being. They need to declaw the unions.
    Best case scenario for the bosses, an outright ban on strikes. Next best case, some ridiculous legislation requiring a quorum of 50% before legal strike action can be declared (note that before an article could be passed into law, the House only requires 6.5% to be quorate). Worst case is to maintain the status quo, so what have they got to lose?

    1. That would make sense if the second round of strikes hadn’t been called off after negotiation at ACAS, if the point of all this was to get the government to ban strikes on the Tube or change the rules on strike ballots then surely their case would have been better served by forcing RMT and TSSA to walk out a second time. The fuss is over, no one died and Cameron has bigger concerns to deal with right now with the waters lapping at the front doorsteps of important Tory voters along the Thames.

      The problem with any changes to the law on industrial action on the Tube only is that it raises the question of if on the Tube why not on other railways, why not on the buses or other areas of public transport, how could you argue that one was essential while the other wasn’t? Also if the Tories had wanted to bring in legislation before May 2015 they would have done it already but they know the LibDems wouldn’t support them.

    2. Maybe the tide of public opinion wasn't so swayed against the unions as the management thought and they bottled out of forcing a second walkout? Or were they following a set negotiation pattern?

  6. Perhaps the tide of public opinion has not been swayed to the unions and the management thought they bottled out of the strike force. Or were they following a set pattern bargaining. Whether the employer is a government employee.

  7. Here's some possibilities to start with:

    Fit for the Future – Trains
    All existing T/Op grades abolished, as on stations. New grades as follows:
    Customer Train Assistant 1 (CTA 1) – a new grade to be used on ‘driverless’ future stock with a roving customer-focused brief inside the articulated walk-through cars.
    Customer Train Assistant 2 (CTA 2) – replaces existing T/Op grade on cabbed trains (manual and ATO)
    Customer Train Assistant 3 (CTA 3) – replaces existing I/O and TTO grades.
    All existing T/Ops required to apply for a CTA 2 position. In order to preserve their current salary income they can also put in for the CTA 3 position.
    Both CTA 2 and 3 pay less than the grades they replace. CTA 1 will pay even less but is expected to be a promotional position for station staff and external candidates.
    All grades can be required to book on for duties at any depot on their line concerned as the business needs sees fit.
    All grades work 37 hrs per week, paid 37 hrs per week; so no need for banked rest days and thus a consequential reduction in time off.
    Abolition of separate duty ‘links’ such as at Earls Court, and other ‘restrictive’ practices to maximise staff ‘flexibility’.
    Abolition of final salary pensions.