Friday, April 29, 2005

My First Entry!

Hmmm, Where do I start?
I am based at the west end of the District line, and at the present time we are in dispute with LUL management over the archaic practise of 'remote booking on and off'.
What this means is that although my home depot is Acton, we are expected to travel through to Earl's Court to book on in our own time (unpaid travelling time).
OK, so this may not sound like a big issue to you, but to most Acton drivers, we mainly live west of Acton, so have to leave our homes a lot earlier than when we book on at Acton!
Not only this, but we are now the only depot on the entire Underground who still has this ridiculous agreement in place. I should state that management did agree to scrap the remote booking on and off quite a few times, but they've reneged on it every time.
The dispute consists of refusing to remotely book on or off. This should not affect the travelling public in any way.

So that's the basic outline of the current dispute. I have to say that morale and general good-feeling at Acton has been a lot higher since we don't have to travel to Earl's Court every day!

Thursday 28th April 2005 I started at about 1630 with a duty which was supposed to book on at Earl's Court. As I say, we don't do that now, so I arrived at Acton at the time I was due at Earl's Court.
My first train was due to go from Earl's Court to Upminster and back, but there are no spares available to cover the trip, so the train has to be 'reformed' into another train, and my trip is cancelled.

It turns out that the Duty Manager Trains (DMT) has a cunning plan to prevent me sitting around relaxing for a while! He asks me to bring a train out of the depot and run it to Tower Hill and back to Earl's Court.
No problem!
A reasonably quiet journey from the depot through to Tower Hill, but when I'm waiting to depart Tower Hill on the return, once I get the green signal I make the usual PA announcements including "stand clear of the doors". I press the door close button and realise that I still don't have a 'pilot light'. This is a blue light (also known as a door interlock) and the train cannot be moved if this light is not illuminated as it means one of the doors on the train has not been proved closed properly.

I check the CCTV monitors again and notice a guy in a suit standing with his hand in the door. Now this is one of the things which annoys me more than anything on LUL: Customers who are too arrogant to wait all of 30 seconds for the train behind and decide to delay me (and therefore everyone else on my train) by holding the doors. He can't open the doors any further than an inch but he's refusing to move.
I make another announcement, but he's still refusing to move.
I sound the whistle to attract the station staff to see if they can help. I secure my train and walk down to hear the station Supervisor threatening him with removal from the station by the police. (It IS illegal to hold the doors).
Eventually the supervisor has to resort to prising the guys hand out of the doors.
I eventually get the train moving some four minutes later than planned, subsequently causing delay to all of the trains who are queued up behind me waiting at red signals for me to move.

I can hear you asking why I didn't just re-open the doors. The simple answer is Why should I? There are trains through that station every thirty seconds or so at that time of the evening, and he'd missed my train fairly and squarely! It was a point of principle.
I'm not heartless, if it had been at a station which has a reduced service frequency or late at night, I would have re-opened the doors.

A pretty quiet night followed, considering I was going up and down between Wimbledon and Edgqware Road all night! Nothing unusual to report other than at Wimbledon at 2355 a guy comes rushing up to me and asks how to get to Paddington. I inform him he's missed the last Edgware Road train by a few minutes, and he'll have to get a night bus from Earl's Court. He decides that it's my fault he missed the last train and gives me a mouthful of abuse. I just walk away and enter my driving cab, and he get's on the train.
I can hear him behind the cab talking very loudly into a mobile phone explaining to whoever is on the other end of the phone (and indeed the entire carriage) how LUL runs a "sh*t service" and the staff are all "w*nkers". Very charming customer.
At Earl's Court, the train was terminating and the guy was still shouting into his phone as he ran up the stairs for a night bus!

It takes all sorts, and you certainly see them all in this job!

Rest days today (Friday) and tomorrow. Not much planned other than a bit of shopping. Back to work on Sunday late shift, so that'll be my next entry!