Friday, July 29, 2005

Holiday time again!

Yes, after what has been a pretty horrendous few weeks on London Underground, it's time for a break.
I'll be away until 16th August, so until then may I wish you all a peaceful and happy time.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Ignorance and Stupidity

Firstly, before I go into one of my rants, I apologise it's been a while since I last blogged. This is due to a number of reasons including PC probs (again!).

Anyway, the title of this blog is a big clue to what I'm going to have a whinge about! It's those ignorant, stupid, thoughtless people who are helping the terrorists achieve their objectives of bringing fear and chaos to London by leaving bags on trains and stations.

I can understand people accidentally leaving a bag on a train. We're only human and accidents do happen, but surely once you realise you'd go back to a member of staff and tell them!
Many people seem to be embarassed by the fact they've left a bag on a train and won't admit to it. They'll be a lot more embarassed when the train arrives into a station which is then evacuated because of that bag.

This is now a DAILY occurance on the District Line alone! Goodness only knows how many alerts other lines are suffering from which I don't know about.
One day last week, we had Mile End, West Ham, Fulham Broadway and Victoria all evacuated at some stage.

The people who REALLY piss me off though are the ignorant gits who seem to deliberately leave bags in provocative positions on trains. Again this has happened a few times lately, and happened to me on Friday.
I arrived into Upminster and was changing ends when I noticed a sports bag, which hadn't just been left, but had been TIED to a seat.
I immediately cleared the train and contacted the line controller who arranged for a duty manager to attend. Luckily, I spotted a police officer on another platform, so I beckoned him over and explained the situation to him.
It took him a few minutes, but very gently he managed to open the top of the bag enough to peek inside and declare it was just rubbish... DELIBERATELY left to try and cause an evacuation etc.

Whoever does this is no better than the terrorists themselves, but with armed police now regularly patrolling, they will have to be careful. We've already had one innocent person killed (why did he run? That's another debate for another place), but I'm sure an armed police officer who saw someone tying a bag to a seat then running off the train may well give chase.

It's also "nice" to see the kids haven't bothered to give us a break. As if we're not stressed enough from bomb threats etc, the little bastards in the Dagenham area are still having fun by shooting at trains with an air rifle or catapult. Several trains over the past few days have had windows put out.
This is another thing I hate about some of our customers.... They won't report a window having been shot out! They simply move to another part of the carriage and let us find out for ourselves! The problem being that they know for health and safety reasons, the train will be immediately taken out of service and the poor things will have to wait another few minutes for the next train.

Anyway, that's enough ranting for one day!

Got an early finish today after my second train was cancelled. Brilliant! I'll get home, have a beer and a Chinese! unfortunately, just as I arrived at Acton Town, the Piccadilly line was suspended due to a suspicious person on the track, so by the time I got home, it was almost my normal time anyway!

Hopefully I'll be back again tomorrow, but as always, it's dependent on having a working PC!!! Only another few days until my hols anyway, so a fortnight away from London will certainly settle my stress!

Friday, July 15, 2005

Thank You M&S!

All LUL staff recently received a lovely box of M&S Belgian chocolates as way of a thank you for working through the recent events.
We were originally led to believe that, like the doughnuts recently, these were a gift from Tim O'Toole. However it turns out that they are in fact a thank you gift from Marks and Spencers.
While I'm sure all of my colleagues will agree with me that we do what we can when we can, it's a very nice gesture by M&S which has certainly helped boost morale.

On the subject of recent events, Geoff and Neil are two guys who you may have seen on the ITV series 'The Tube' running around like mad people trying to cover the entire LU network in the shortest possible time. They hold the current world record for doing this, and have thought of a novel idea to raise money for the Bombings Relief Fund.
You can read about the 'Not Afraid Tube Challenge' on Geoff's website. I'm hoping to take part providing I'm not rostered to work on the date. If I am working, I'll keep an eye out for you all running about!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

We're Not Afraid

Inspired by the pictures and support sent to the 'We're Not Afraid' website, I've been doodling with MS Paint to create my own pic. I'm a complete PC Dunce, but I think this sums up my feelings towards these cowards, and I believe will also reflect the feelings of my colleagues and customers.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Ignorant Git

I came within a few seconds of actually hitting one of my customers today. As you may have gathered by now, I'm very much a peace-loving person and pride myself on my customer service skills etc, however this one particular drunken person really tested me.

I was changing ends at High Street Kensington on the Olympia service, after I'd announced via the PA that there was no Circle line service and no District service beyond HSK.
This drunk staggered off my train and started effing on at me calling me all sorts! I asked him what the problem was and he announced that "LUL were a bunch of c*nts and were always cancelling trains".
I asked him what he was talking about, and it turns out he's trying to reach Paddington. He starts swearing at me a bit more, and I start to lose my temper. I asked him if he'd been pissed for the past few days or slept through them. He then accused LUL of deliberately keeping the track closed to save money!
My blood was boiling and I could feel myself clenching my fists (and I'm not a little bloke either!) so I literally had to walk away from him. As I started walking away, he spotted a station assistant up the stairs so decided to have a bit whinge at him too. I lingered near the foot of the stairs because this bloke was getting closer and closer to the SA, but eventually I had to go as the signal cleared.
I sincerely hope that this bloke was thrown out of the station, or even better that the BTP were around to have a friendly word with him. Tosser.

Anyway, I'm off tomorrow, then dead late on Tuesday. If any of my District-blogging colleagues are working nights on Tuesday, I'll be driving train 4, so don't be shy in saying hello as you show me the green!!

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Back To Normal?

It's been a pretty normal Saturday night on the District line and the customers have started slacking in their security already.

I changed ends at Richmond and was shocked to see someone had left a coat rolled up stuffed into the side of a seat. Thankfully, I could see it was harmless, but it makes you wonder whether some people are deliberately leaving things to see if they can cause a security alert. Maybe they were watching and were hoping to see the bomb squad or whatever.

Another train had a window shot out up the east end again this evening, and got all the way to Blackfriars before someone bothered to tell the driver.

It's less than 3 days since bombs changed the way we think about public transport in London for ever, and people are already being stupid. Very sad.

With grateful thanks to Seth (a member of District Dave's Forum) for producing this roundel which I think sums up my thoughts perfectly!

Friday, July 08, 2005

New Layout

My blog was looking rather messy compared with many of my colleagues, so I've changed the way it looks!
I hope you agree it looks a lot smarter.

Very Quiet Friday

Firstly, may I thank all of those people who have taken the time to share your reflections and to offer your prayers for all of those affected by the events of yesterday. I must admit to still being a bit shocked by it all.

The District line was running a near normal service today (or at least trying to) with the obvious exception of the Edgware Road service.
When I booked on at about 1600, we were running quite well! I have to say at this point a huge thank you to all of my colleagues and the police who worked through the night to make sure that trains which had been abandoned in stations were checked and returned to depots for the start of service this morning. I know our customers appreciated it.

Anyway, as I got into my shift I hear over the radio that the service is being suspended because of a security alert at West Ham. Sadly the first of several this evening.
After a while, the area was declared safe, only to be followed by a suspension of service due to another alert at Victoria. Again, eventually trains were allowed to run after being declared safe by the police.

I was being held at a red signal on Putney Bridge (I was actually admiring the view along the Thames) when I got a message saying we were now suspended on the Wimbledon branch (where I was) due to a security alert at Parsons Green. I called the controller to be told this was a serious incident involving lost property which had been hidden on a train and could be some time.
I obviously kept my passengers informed of the circumstances, and even (after gaining permission) walked through the train and spoke to everyone informing them of the problem.
Eventually, I had to move my train forward right behind another train which was already in the platform at Putney Bridge station, and had to detrain everyone via the cab. Thankfully, all of the passengers (without exception) were fully co-operative and even thanked us as they left the train.

The sad thing is that the incident at Parsons Green seems to have been a deliberate attempt by a member of public to cause a security alert. You always get some sick bastards, and sadly it will probably keep happening. We really cannot afford to take chances on these things now, and I hope that the passengers will continue to understand that we need to suspend the service etc for their own protection, we're not trying to be awkward.

Can I make a plea that if you're travelling on any form of public transport and spot ANYTHING which you are suspicious about, please tell someone. You won't be made to look stupid and I guarantee that you will be taken seriously.
It amazed me that just a few weeks after the Madrid bombings, I witnessed some passengers go to move an unattended bag from a seat so they could sit down! DON'T TAKE ANY RISKS.

I have to say that this was a strange night to be at work. It was certainly the quietest Friday night I've ever experienced. I picked up a grand total of 23 people travelling through the city late tonight. It would usually be ten times that amount.
I hope that this is just because people simply didn't want to go into town and get pissed out of respect... I hope that people simply aren't scared to use the Underground now.
I've been asked several times by members of the public whether I'm scared to drive my train now. I answer that we can't allow ourselves to be beaten.
I admit that while I was driving through the city, the events were constantly in the back of my mind, but we can't let these cowardly bastards win.
Maybe if I'd been driving one of the affected trains, I'd be thinking differently, and I can only pray that my colleagues involved are ok and do eventually summon the courage to drive trains again.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

A Sad Day

We've been expecting it for a long time, but today it finally happened. Terrorists hit the London transportation system, with three explosions on trains, and one on a bus.

As I work late shifts, I awoke to hear the news on my clock radio about 1pm. Needless to say, it didn't take me as long as normal to wake up. I first of all had to ring and text everyone who'd been leaving me messages to assure them I was OK. Then I rang my duty manager.
He informed me that I should just report to my local station and help where I could. This I did, but as it turned out, there was very little I could do, other than assist answering questions from passengers about how to reach their destinations.

To be honest, I think I'm still quite shocked. As I say, we've been expecting it, but now it's actually happened, it still seems like a horrible nightmare.

Needless to say my sincere condolances, thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who were killed, and with those who were injured by these terrible atrocities.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Live 8!

Well, at the time of writing, it's just coming up to 3am on Sunday morning. The London Live 8 concert went on until midnight.
That's an awful lot of people who'd be stuck in central London with the last trains just about ready to depart. Make poverty history? It certainly would have done for thousands of cabbies tonight!

However, LU to the rescue! We decided to run trains upto an hour later than the usual finish times to get as many home as possible. However, this over-run had not been thought of by LUL, and no plans had been made. Therefore at about 8pm, the DOM (Duty Operations Manager) decided to appeal for volunteers to work a bit extra!

As it turned out, they got all of the volunteers without a problem and the trains were still coming through Acton Town at about 1am quite full!

The District line has been very quiet lately, at least on my train! I find this worrying, as it isn't normal to get through an entire week without changing ends at Upminster and finding a fire extinguisher discharged all over the saloon, or a window missing or the cab broken into or urine all over the saloon etc.
Maybe the BTP initiative is actually working! I know they have been putting plain-clothes officers in the back carriages of trains to try and catch offenders, and word of this has obviously got around among the chav community!

We did have a fun day last Monday with the heavy rain, causing signal failures all over the place, however I had a few PC probs so couldn't blog about it!
At least the Wimbledon Tennis Championships should finish later today (Sunday) so those people who live east of Southfields will actually be able to get a seat on the train again!

Anyway, that's about it for now. We now have three refurbished D stock trains running around on the line, although I have yet still to drive one! Hopefully sometime this week!