Station familiarisations, a legally-required procedure that everyone working on a station must undertake and which must be carried out by a resident CSS or CSM, are extremely important. CSAs on the Special Requirements Team (SRT) work across multiple stations, and are on average familiarised at 15-20 stations every six months so they can effectively respond and work at those stations.
Bank/Monument, a sprawling and entirely underground complex, has arguably the most complicated station footprint on the underground. It has numerous particular issues, specific to it as a station, not encountered elsewhere.
Two weeks ago, Customer Service Supervisors (CSSs) in the SRT had their duties suddenly changed and were instructed to go to Bank to be familiarised. They were then told that, the following day, they would be familiarising CSAs at Bank.
Reps were made aware and swiftly responded with obvious concerns. A CSS who does not work at a station should not be expected to familiarise other staff to work there. This should apply for any station, but especially one as complicated as Bank. If Bank's local CSSs and CSMs are so stretched that they are unable to familiarise staff there, the solution is to increase the staffing level at Bank, not offload familiarisation duties onto the SRT.
Clearly, the cuts made under Fit for the Future were too deep, to the point that staff do not have the resources to perform their duties. Prior to Fit for the Future, SRT staff were strictly required to have two full days of familiarisation at Bank before they could work there. Since Fit for the Future, this decline first to a single day, and now to just a few hours.
The system is failing Bank station on a safety level, and now it is affecting SRT, with this whole issue potentially spilling over to other stations if this procedure sets a precedent. To this end, it cannot be allowed to move forward and must be stopped.
But the issue does not end here. What this clearly highlights is an overall drop in recognition of the importance of familiarisations. A audit of station familiarisations should be strongly considered, with the amount of time spent on familiarisations looked at closely. All station staff have the right to a comprehensive familiarisation, not a corner-cutting walkaround after which a form is shoved in our hands which we're expected to sign. Once again, if there is not enough CSS and CSM time available to conduct full familiarisations, then quite simply we need more CSSs and CSMs.
If this issue isn't addressed, it could lead to a serious safety incident.