Tuesday 17 November 2015

Contrary to my last post it seems that unless the sheets on display are incomplete the W&C will NOT be running on Boxing Day although I’m pretty sure that someone told me it would.  Or maybe it’s the early onset of Alzheimer’s……

The Central Line is still suffering from a lot of train cancellations leading to a lot of overcrowding during the peaks on what is now officially the busiest Line on the network and there are an awful lot of trains in service with traction problems, I don’t think I’ve had a single day in the last week when I didn’t end up on a train with motors missing.  A recent memo from Chris Taggart, Archfiend of the Central Line, blames this on the high number of “flash-overs” but says that “Fleet” are busy trying to fix the problem and we should be back to full service soon.

The 92s have DC motors which suffer “flash-overs” but unless plans have changed since February then by 2019 these will be replaced by “flash-over” free AC motors under the Heavy Overhaul Programme (not to be confused with the Heavy, Heavy Monster Sound – the Nuttiest Sound around).  It’s a pretty extensive project and it would be easier to list what isn’t being replaced or refurbished than to list what is but when added to the "refresh" before the Olympics by the time they’ve finished the 92s will be akin to the Ship of Theseus or Trigger’s Broom.

Of course that still leaves the question of why the 92s have suffered so badly from these problems in the last few months, is it simply that the trains are getting to an age when they are becoming unreliable or does the current timetable not give the depot staff enough time to get all the necessary maintenance done?  And how would this have effected things had Night Tube gone ahead?

Friday 13 November 2015

On Monday’s BBC London News a senior manager who wasn’t called Brown claimed that an agreement on Night Tube was close but from what the unions said after the meeting at ACAS on Tuesday it seems that either he was delusional or he was simply lying, either of which is pretty standard for LU management.  It seems that management have shifted their position slightly from ”you won’t get a pay rise until you sign the deal for Night Tube” to “we won’t discuss the deal on Night Tube until you accept the pay offer” neither of which could be described as constructive.
The big change is that rather than having an “Interim Period” where the Night Tube shifts were slotted into our roster and we’d get paid an extra £200 per shift management are now considering recruiting part-time TOps who would only work night shifts at weekends.  The general reaction from around the mess rooms seems to be positive, very few of us want to work Night Tube so if someone else wants to get paid for doing it then that’s fine with us and if management think that removing the opportunity of being paid an extra £200 per shift is going to have us demanding that our reps sign the deal currently in front of them then they truly are delusional.
Elsewhere there’s been a lot of talk about LU spending £1.5m per month on 500 staff hired for the launch of Night Tube and I can say that of the 137 extra TOps who were recruited – from existing LU and TfL staff – only nine of them were going to the Central Line.  Not that they went to the two depots who were initially planned to provide staff for Night Tube, WHC and LES have not had any expansion of their rosters, HAI has been reduced by 14 with LOU expanded by the same number while the nine extra places were at WER which isn’t going to be getting Night Tube when/if it ever opens.
Otherwise it seems that Boxing Day is back as the agreement made in 2012 isn’t working out quite as we hoped.  In 2012 LU gave us a reduced service with 28 duties at LES and we got 30 volunteers so anyone who didn’t want to work had the day off.  Last year LU went for a Sunday service minus one, there were 45 duties, we got about 30 volunteers again and the remaining places were filled by TOps who’d been on the job the shortest time.  I was one of those as I only qualified in 2003 and as you can imagine I was less than happy, especially as there were hardly any passengers around so it was obvious that we had far more trains running than we needed.
This year LU have decided to push to the maximum agreed level, the equivalent of a full Sunday service, 46 duties and so far we have only 15 volunteers with the possibility that some TOps with over 20 years in the job will have to work.  To make things even more ridiculous the W&C Line will be open despite there being no mainline services into Waterloo and virtually no one working in the City.  RMT want to change things so that TOps that worked one Boxing Day do not work the next but ASLEF are sticking with it all being done on seniority and if RMT do call a strike on Boxing Day it will be interesting to see how many ASLEF members refuse to cross the picket lines.