Monday, 19 December 2016

I’ve been rather busy with things recently and as I said in answer to a comment left by Lime Street Lad I’ve been feeling “blogged out”.  I thought I’d check in to confirm that I’m still alive and not retired, that’s still 11 years, 1 month and 20 days away – not that I’m counting.

When Fit for the Future - Stations was introduced TfL claimed that closing ticket offices would mean more staff available to assist passengers out on the stations but that didn’t seem to be the case Saturday night.  Around 19:00 we were told that HOP was closed although Wood Lane declined to give us a reason but when I checked the TfL website during my meal break it said that HOP was closed due to “staff absence” which made it sound as if it was all unexpected.  Temple was also closed for the same reason and around 23:00 CHL followed suit.

In the past there have been instances where stations in open section were left unstaffed if there was no Station Supervisor available to cover the night duty, SNA, BUH and THB were often candidates but apart from strike days I’m struggling to remember when Zone 1 stations were shut down because they fell below the minimum staff level.  So less than a year after LUL reduced station staff numbers by 952 and less than six months after Night Tube it seems that we don’t have enough staff to keep all our stations open, so much for promises of a world class Tube for a world class city!

In other news I’m sure some have noticed that recently the Central Line has got rather noisy, not with all those people listening to their smart phones on headphones but a very loud track noise.  At first it was noticeable at LIS-BEG EB and WAN-LES Outer Rail although now the LIS-BEG stretch doesn’t seem as bad as it was a few weeks ago.  Instead in the last few weeks it seems to have spread to WAN-RED Inner Rail and also to HOP-NHG EB where it seemed to get increasingly worse as the week went on.  Apparently there is remedial work planned involving some sort of rubber padding, let’s hope it works and it doesn’t spread to other sections.

Other than that I’ve had the pleasure to travel a bit and try public transport in other cities this year.  The Washington DC Metro seems quite dated and uncared for, the stations are almost Stygian in their depressing gloominess and the entrance to Dupont Circle station is like descending into the mouth of some benighted underworld on an endless escalator.  Some of the trains date from the 1970s and while some are only a dozen years old their design is virtually identical to the originals.  The brakes are savage, the seats are shiny plastic, my travelling companion was wearing a leather coat and the first time we came to a stop she slid off the seat.

I tried not to laugh.........

I went back to Paris in September although once again I didn’t get around to riding the driverless M1 or M14.  I like the Metro but at some stations the distance from the ticket hall to the platforms and the interchange between some lines can be so lengthy that you wonder why you bothered coming below ground as it might have been just as quick to walk it on the surface.  Oh the little cardboard five day tickets seem ridiculously flimsy and eminently loseable compared to Oysters

If you want a tour bus just ride the 42 which starts from the Gare du Nord, passes the Opera, the Eglise Madeleine, the Place de la Concorde, the Champs Elysees, the Champs de Mars and the Eiffel Tower although I could live without the cobblestones on the road.  I also discovered a taxi with a glass roof which was perfect for looking up at the architecture as we drove through the streets, we could definitely use some of those in London. 

Oh and if you’re going on the Eurostar book the 13:13 return from Gare du Nord as the complementary lunch was superb.  Finally I went to Manchester and was thoroughly impressed with the trams although the Old Trafford tram stop is a long hike from the stadium, especially after you’ve lost 4-1.

I'll be finishing before well before midnight on Christmas Eve, I'm not working Boxing Day or New Year's Eve so at least this year I'll be able to celebrate a bit.

Safe travels, peeps.


  1. Welcome back!

    Certainly, that I'm aware of, in recent weeks on the Jubilee we've had Bermondsey shut at least a couple of times due to staff shortage, and even Green Park on one occasion, albeit the latter only for a short time.

    I can also empathise with your noise problem; on the Jubilee line extension, now already 17 years old, track noise has increased to the extent it's sometimes impossible to hear general announcements, especially the line information ones we're supposed to pass on. Hopefully I or one of my colleagues don't miss a "Code Red!"

  2. Add to that Earls Court, Queensway, Blackhorse Road and numerous, numerous others, some more than on one occasion not to the mention the numerous stations being left unstaffed including Latimer Road where kids were photographed crossing the tracks. TFL stating "absence of staff" which the RMT has strongly objected to as it clearly "lack of staff" especially with the OT ban in force to emphasise the point. What do TFL do? Rather then recruit/reinstate they offer Ambassadors bribe money of up to £250 a shift to keep stations open, far more than a standard CSA gets. No wonder station staff are totally hacked off with the company.

    1. Point of order, unless there have been more incidents then it wasn't kids at Latimer Road, it was a kid, just the one, a girl to be precise.

      I don't know Latimer Road's staffing, should there have been a member of staff on the platform at the time of the incident and was a duty uncovered or did they use to have a member of staff on the platform but they've been withdrawn under FFF-S? Unless there should or would have been someone on the platform then she'd probably have crossed the tracks regardless of any deficiency.

      "Staff shortage" was the term used in the past and is still used elsewhere, to my mind "staff absence" implies that the fault is with the staff rather than the employer.

    2. Latimer Road has one person on the roster 24/7, as does every similar station bar the odd meal relief. There was some on the gate line when the child crossed the tracks, a manoeuvre that isn't uncommon on the branch

    3. Wake up please.....numerous stations have rostered staff 24/7 but daily certain stations are left unstaffed due to lack of cover. A few to mention recently...27/12 West Acton, 28/12 West Harrow, 29/12 Ickenham and Eastcote. These are the ones I hear about, there are doubtless numerous others. Shepherd's Bush Market Station is regularly left unstaffed. Prior to the dates above, Chiswick Park, Preston Park, West Harrow (again) and Ruislip Manor all left open and unstaffed. The list goes on and on....

  3. Correction.....a girl was caught on camera crossing the track. Days earlier however an off duty member of staff had to shout at "some school kids" playing on the track at unmanned Shepherd's Bush Market station. On this occasion however no photographic proof as the off duty member was initially shocked and just screamed at them to get off the track. It's a more natural reaction rather than considering taking a photo first. Latimer Road was unmanned according to the RMT and members who work on that area as many stations often are. TFL are claiming a member of staff was on the gateline. You are correct in that "staff absence" does suggest it is the staff's fault and some people have turned to twitter with such remarks as "is it too warm under the duvet to bother to come to work" or "were they out at a Christmas Party last night". Again the RMT have objected to this wording. Anybody would think TFL were doing it deliberately.......surely not?

    1. Thanks for the info, I was looking at the Central Line Twitter during my meal break yesterday and will be writing more about this hopefully tomorrow.

  4. The closures are the result of the overtime ban rather than just the new staffing model. Lots of employers use overtime for short-notice cover with and it's generally popular with employees. Light pay packets and inconvenience for customers. Great eh? Welcome back btw

  5. The OT ban is in place to highlight just how short staffed we are. In my 13 years on the job I have never seen it so bad - the amount of uncovered duties and weekly emails offering/pleading for people to cover them. Doing away with group reserves and cutting staff overall has backfired big time. Yet, while LUL are not committing to recruiting more CSA1's they are happy to pay Ambassadors up to £250.00 a shift to break the ban and keep stations open where they can. Somebody please do the maths!