Sunday, June 19, 2005

Heat Stroke!

I'm sure by now, you all know how much I enjoy a good whinge.
About anything.
Well, it's time to whinge about the heat again! Had a late shift this afternoon and I was soaked with sweat within 10 minutes of getting out of the shower. Not a good start!
Anyway, I cover myself in deodorant and put on my uniform. Luckily, Train Operators don't have to wear a tie at all these days, in fact we're currently being issued with polo shirts instead of the normal shirts... Most lines have them now, but being the District, we're going to be last again. We'll probably get them just as we head into the winter.
Anyway, I set off down to the bus stop to catch my bus to my local station. The bus stop is one of these with the electronic countdown timers which tell you how long the next bus will be (no jokes about being 32 feet, I've heard it before!).
The scrolling information shows the next six buses. Unfortunately none of them is mine. This is actually a regular occurance now with this particular route. The timetable says 'every 10 minutes' but the bus stop tells me that the sixth bus is still 18 mins away, and that isn't mine!
I wonder if the Trades Descriptions Act relates to bus services?

Anyway, I have no choice now but to walk to the station (it's only about a mile, but feels a lot further in the heat!).
Arrive at the station just as a train is pulling in. Unfortunately, my staff pass decides it wants to be awkward and not work on the Oyster reader on the gates. There's a big crowd at the ticket window so I can't attract attention to open the 'wide gate' for me. Sadly the train pulls away just as the gates finally realise that I'm a member of staff and that my ticket does not have a negative balance!

Finally arrive at work. I'm supposed to be spare, which means just covering anyone who is absent etc. As is the norm these days, I'm given a full duty to do... Apparently there had been about 4 people phoned in sick with heat-related illnesses!
Just as I pick up the train, I hear a radio message saying there are problems on the Wimbledon branch. Apparently a set of points have failed, probably due to the heat. The tracks are regularly checked during the hot weather by the infrastructure companies anyway, as they have a tendency to buckle in extreme heat like today. If the temperature at ground level was 30 C, the rail temperature is a LOT more than that!
Anyway, I realise I'm not going to Wimbledon so I'm not too concerned. However, I am between Sloane Square and Victoria when I come up against a red signal. This particular signal is very rarely red, so I'm quite surprised to be held there... And held there...Eventually the controller breaks the news that the starting signal at Victoria has now failed. This means that we've been stuck in the tunnel in ridiculous temperatures now for ten minutes (although I've been making plenty of announcements to reassure the passengers) but finally we're moving.
We got through Victoria eventually, by applying the appropriate rule to pass a failed signal and got to just outside of Tower Hill only to be offered the wrong signal by the signaller! I'm supposed to be routed into the bay platform, but am given the route to the main (through) platform. This means another few minutes delay while I call the controller and he informs the signaller who then has to 'take a release' on the signal in order to change it. For safety reasons, if a signaller takes a release on a signal in front of a train, it takes two minutes before he can then set up a different route.
Anyway, we eventually get into Tower Hill bay platform 15 minutes late, which meant I was also 15 minutes late leaving and getting off for grub at Earl's Court.

You would not believe the temperatures in the driving cabs! It's bad enough in the passenger saloons, but the cab has glass on three sides and the sun makes it so unbearably hot, I get through gallons of water! Thanks to the SS at Tower Hill for allowing me to keep topping up my bottle from his water cooler!

Yes, it's that time of the year for Wimbledon fortnight! Thousands of people descend on SW19, alighting at Southfields to watch some people hitting a ball around. Let's hope that the signals on that branch don't fail for the next two weeks! It would be sods law to have failures down there for the start of Wimbledon!

To those people who e-mailed me about my near-miss last Monday evening. It did indeed shake me up at the time (as you can probably tell by my blog entry), however I managed to get some sleep, and returned to work the following day.

I don't know how I'd have felt if I'd seriously injured or killed someone though. The human brain is a strange device!

I also apologise for the fact I haven't made a blog since last Monday! I can only assume I must have had a very boring week!


Post a Comment

<< Home