Observations and opinions of a Central Line Train Driver
Thursday, 16 June 2016
Yesterday for an hour and 40 minutes there was no service between MAA and LES due to a "one under" at LEY. Had this happened last year we could have reversed at LIS or HOL but as mentioned last month Museum siding at HOL has been removed and currently LIS sidings are being used for storage. Reversing over the crossovers at LIS and BEG would mean using one platform for arrivals and departures which would lead to serious overcrowding so instead the main central 16km/10 mile stretch of Central Line serving a dozen stations was shut down. This is progress?
By the time I started work we were running again but obviously everything was late which was further exacerbated by a signal problem at WHC. Things were still running late when I finished 7 hours 20 minutes later with all WB trains running to WER and a shuttle service running NOA to EAB plus no outer rail service on the HAI loop. Strangely the platforms were more crowded around 20:00 than they were at 17:00 and my last EB trip wasn't helped by the train repeatedly changing the destination describer from EPP to WER or occasionally sounding the chimes to warn that the doors were closing after they'd started to close. Not a happy train.....
We had conformation of the TOp reductions for Night Tube, LES will lose 5, HAI 14 and WHC 6. As I mentioned this is not because the rosters were expanded for Night Tube last year and are now being reduced, this is from the full time TOps we had under WTT 67. I guess we'll have to wait and see what happens next.
When I joined LU nearly 20 years ago as a humble Station Assistant last trains meant that one of us would go down on the platform while another waited at the ticket barriers to call down over the radio if any last minute passengers were on their way. When everybody was on board the bod on the platform would give a signal to the TOp that it was okay to proceed. In April we received a new issue of Rule Books and one little amendment seems to have been overlooked. In the last issue of Rule Book 8 "Managing the platform train interface" under Section 3.6 "Last Trains" station staffs’ responsibilities were listed as....
"When the last train to a destination is departing you must:
hold the train as necessary to maintain connections
the announcements to tell customers this is the last train
dispatch the train using the appropriate dispatch sign.”
The first line has now been amended to read "For the last train booked for connection to a destination you must"
The booked connections are listed on page 5 of Working Timetable 67, they are the last EPP and HAI at LES, the last WB and EB trains at MIE to connect with the last District Line trains and the last WER and EAB trains at WHC. Anywhere else the TOp is no longer required to wait for station staff to show up, this seems to have caught out a few people including so I'm told the controllers at Wood Lane and when I got back from annual leave a few weeks ago notices had gone up pointing out the rule change. No doubt this is another result of FFTF, it just gets better and better……..
Yesterday at 11:14 the Victoria Line Twitter feed announced
that King’s Cross had been evacuated and closed due to “staff below minimum
numbers” although at 11:35 it was announced that it had re-opened.I’m pretty certain that King’s Cross has the largest
staff of any station on the Tube, according to the Fit for Future station by
station review for the Metropolitan Line it now has 7 CSM1s, 14 CSS1, 91 full
time and 7 part time CSAs although some of them are the new “customer facing” CSA2
On a Sunday the minimum staffing level is 11 rising to 15 between 11:00
and 20:00 but on this particular Sunday there was no
Circle Line due to engineering work with the Met and the H&C reversing at
KX so for that 20 minutes it must have been pretty hectic at Euston Square or wherever they decided to tip out the trains. My guess is that one or two members of staff who should have been there at
11am were delayed, possibly because like the District Line TOp I had in my cab on Saturday they forgot there was engineering work and
their usual route to work was unavailable. I guess it isn’t just the passengers who don’t check engineering work
On Night Tube it seems the general opinion is to wait and see what happens. One thing I neglected to mention about the TOps being displaced is that neither WHC or LES were getting any extra TOps for Night Tube. Had the original plan gone ahead both depots would have had the same number as under WTT67 so these are not extra TOps who were added for Night Tube, under the current proposals both WHC and LES will have fewer TOps
Please feel free to correct me if I've got anything wrong, I usually do.........
And just when we thought everything about Night Tube was settled it seems that management can't leave anything alone. The week before last I heard that when the new timetable is introduced along with the introduction of 37 part time TOps working Friday and Saturday nights the number of full time TOps will be reduced, I've now learnt that there will be 8 less places at LES, 10 at WHC and 15 at HAI with the WHC TOps said to be going to Queen's Park while the ones from the east end of the line will find themselves at Earl's Court on the District Line. What makes things even more unpalatable is that the number of TOps at LOU has been expanded, I'm informed they've had 25 brand new TOps join over the past year and I believe that WER has also had some fresh arrivals.
Management will give a annual bonus (I believe the figure is £6k) to the displaced TOps but as with Night Tube they don't seem to realise that money isn't everything. One of the LES TOps who will be forced to move only got here from WHC recently and understandably she is less than happy, had she stayed at WHC she'd have been better off. This issue will be raised at branch meetings over the next few weeks but even among those of us senior enough not to be effected the overwhelming attitude seems to be that this is grievously unfair and we are prepared to take strike action if necessary.
Maybe management could try asking for volunteers rather than imposing displacement, maybe there are some TOps who would take £6k for a move but speaking for myself its not worth having to get a staff taxi back across London after a dead late.
Back in December when we had a knife weilding maniac causing mayhem at LES I found myself stuck up the west siding at WHC next to an engineering train and got talking with the driver. The drivers of engineering trians get to work all the lines apart from the W&C so unlike most TOps they can compare and contrast. According to him the Central Line is not the worst at recovering the service after an incident, that honour goes to the Piccadilly but the Central is definitely the second worst.
The Piccadilly could have some serious competition in the near future as from 21 May the British Museum siding west of HOL will be decomissioned and it seems at some point soon we will also lose the little used crossover at QUE. Our reversing points for the middle of the line will be at LES, the crosover west of BEG, the two sidings east of and crossover west of LIS, the siding west of MAA and WHC. At the moment the sidings at LIS are unavailable as they are being used for some sort of storage, no idea what that's for and no idea when we'll be getting them back.
I'm certainly glad I won't be working at Wood Lane the next time we have a service suspension
While I'm overjoyed that Sadiq Khan will be our mayor for the next four years I'm rather saddened by the news that Richard Tracey, purveyor of moronic opinions on how the Tube should work since 2008, will no longer be around to entertain us. Maybe he simply ran out of stupid ideas or maybe he finally realised that everything he had said that related to transport was so much dingoes kidneys but for whatever reason he decided that he'd had enough. Even if he had decided to carry on it would have been the same outcome as Labour won Merton and Wandsworth.
This week Zac Goldsmith announced that he would raise £25m to pay for an
extra 500 police on the Tube by scrapping TfL staff nominee passes, a variation
on last year’s proposal by Andrew Boff and the Tories on the London Assembly to
“save” TfL £22.3m a year, utter nonsense then and utter nonsense now.Rather than being the equivalent of a Zone
1-6 travelcard as claimed nominee passes are valid on TfL services only so if
TfL were paying £22.3m for free travel they be paying themselves.What the Tories actually mean is “lost
revenue” rather than cost, what the nominees notionally would have paid in
fares if they didn’t have the free pass but I suppose if you say that TfL are
spending tax payers’ money on free travel it sounds “sexier”.
How did they come to the figure of £22.3m?In 2014 nominees made just over 3.6m Tube or rail journeys and just
under 4.8m bus or tram journeys, the average Tube fare was calculated as £3.60 by taking the arbitrary figures of the cost of a
single Zone 1-6 peak time journey, £5.00, and a single Zone 1-2 off peak journey,
£2.20. The average bus and tram fare of £1.92 was reached by simply adding the
single bus fare, £1.45, to the single tram fare, £2.40, and dividing by two regardless of the fact that far more journeys are on the buses than trams!
TfL disputed these totally worthless figures
and estimated the lost revenue as not more than £7m although even that might be
an overestimation as there’s no guarantee all the nominees would continue to
use public transport if their free travel was withdrawn. So rather than funding an extra 500 police on the Tube withdrawing nominee
passes would provide 140 at the very most but even that raises the question of
whether the Tube actually needs more police or whether they’d be more useful
elsewhere in London where officer numbers have dropped by 1535 according to Sadiq Khan.
Maybe Zac Goldsmith shouldn't have been so keen to adopt one of Boff's ideas, the party faithful had so little regard for him that he came fourth out of four in the mayoral candidate selection ballot with just 4% of the votes although their judgment of him seems well deserved. Last
August Boff put a video clip of himself on Twitter saying “I love the DLR, no
driver, no one to strike” but three months later a strike by RMT meant there
was no service on the DLR for two days.That’s pretty stupid but not as stupid as the clip still being there six