Tubeworker's blog

We Should Be So Lucky

Submitted by Tubeworker on Thu, 24/11/2005 - 21:29

Breaking news ... Bob Kiley is leaving his post three years early, in January next year.

Yes, our ex-CIA, half-a-million-a-year Transport Commissioner will be on his way. The man who brought him here - Ken Livingstone - may well be sad to see him go. But that feeling may not be shared by the workforce.

Mind you, that should leave a £2m mansion vacant, and a wodge of wages going spare. So how about spending it on several frontline staff, rather than one replacement fat cat?

Tut tut tut two

Submitted by Tubeworker on Fri, 18/11/2005 - 09:00

The Mayor has withdrawn that creepy leaflet aimed at women passengers, after numerous people pointed out that it was ... er ... sexist.

In case you are lucky enough not to have seen this leaflet, it is illustrated by pictures of lipstick and stiletto heels, and gives "advice" that would be patronising to a two-year-old going to a princess fancy dress party.

When management gives out that sort of crap to passengers, sorry customers, then what sort of impression does it create of women Tube workers? What's next? Uniform issue stillies and lippy?

Rank-and-file Keep Stations Fight Alive

Submitted by Tubeworker on Mon, 14/11/2005 - 09:11

More thoughts following the recent reps' meeting

Rank-and-file union reps have made sure that RMT will keep fighting LUL’s attacks on station staffing levels.
At the recent reps’ meeting, the “top table” tried to persuade us that the latest draft rosters were the best we were going to get, and recommended that we accept them. But rep after rep outlined why their group’s rosters were not acceptable, and insisted that the union reject them and fight for more.

Tut tut tut

Submitted by Tubeworker on Thu, 10/11/2005 - 21:05

The Advertising Standards Authority has slapped TfL's wrists and ordered the removal of one of the latest Oyster posters. You know that rather witty 'blue is the new pink' one? Well, it gave people the impression that Oyster is as useful as a One-Day Travelcard, which - if you travel on parts on the mainline railway - it isn't.

"Faster, smarter, easier, Oyster"? Management might think so, but not everyone agrees.

Stations shorter working week: report from reps' meeting

Submitted by Tubeworker on Sun, 06/11/2005 - 09:04

Station side reps met together on Wednesday 2nd November to discuss the shorter working week negotiations.

Bobby Law and the functional council reps outlined where we were and stated that management were now unwilling to make any further concessions as regards the proposed rosters.

He said that LUL was claiming that agreement had been reached in 34 out of 44 groups. This surprised the meeting, as when it came to reports from local reps, there was only one group (Camden) whose members were happy with their rosters.

The Oyster effect

Submitted by Tubeworker on Thu, 03/11/2005 - 20:59

London Underground believe that the Oyster card is the answer to all their staffing problems. Who needs ticket sellers when you can just top up your ticket at one of the many pass agents as you would your phone?
The company envisage a cash-less System within the next few years. No booking offices and Passenger machines that will only take cards.

Stand Well Clear of These Doors

Submitted by Tubeworker on Thu, 03/11/2005 - 20:30

It's another triumph for PPP and sub-contracting (not). This time, a Victoria Line train travelled with open doors between stations following modifications carried out by subbies.

Metronet subbed a company called RPL to increase air pressure to speed up door-closing on Vic Line trains – and their modifications led to a door staying open near OXO. The air pressure was cranked up, and duly damaged the door guides, leading to a door staying open by around 15 inches. But the cab lights showed that all doors were shut on the moving train.

Protest to defend Section 12

Submitted by Tubeworker on Wed, 02/11/2005 - 13:54

The government is once again trying to water down our fire safety regulations.

The 'Section 12' regulations came into force in 1989 in the wake of the King's Cross fire two years previously. They include: minimum staffing levels; staff training requirements; detection, compartmentation and suppression; means of escape; and several other crucial laws.

Sign On The Line

Submitted by Tubeworker on Tue, 01/11/2005 - 14:29

In some stations, management have got a new trick: get the Station Supervisor to sign Storage Licences.

Their excuse is that the Supervisor knows more about the station environment than the GSM does. Obviously, that's true! But it is a pretty weak pretext for what is a very dangerous move.

Planning? What planning?

Submitted by Tubeworker on Mon, 31/10/2005 - 16:50

Tomorrow, loads of people will gather in Trafalgar Square in memory of those killed in the 7th July bombings. Quite right too.

It would have been nice if someone had told Charing Cross station, though. Then they could have put on extra duties and prepared for the event.

Looks like another case of "Don't mind us, we only work here".

Going Round The Procedures

Submitted by Tubeworker on Sat, 29/10/2005 - 10:22

As Tubeworker has reported previously, management have been up to no good on the Waterloo group, where they set up a 'Staff Council' to go round the proper agreed procedures for negotiating and consulting with the unions.

This issue has been dragging on for more than six months now. Management tried to make out that it is a harmless attempt to improve communication, but it turns out that they have been discussing staff displacements at this 'council', and that they never tell the elected union rep when the meetings take place!

Derailment in Liverpool

Submitted by Tubeworker on Wed, 26/10/2005 - 19:29

Breaking news- A commuter train on Liverpool's equivalent of the tube has derailed in a tunnel outside Liverpool Central station.Apparently it was packed with 90 commuters in the height of the rush hour.Although there are no reports of any fatalities The British Transport Police have described the incident as major.

It will be interesting to see how this story develops.

Bad guesswork

Submitted by Tubeworker on Sat, 22/10/2005 - 12:44

We need tripcock testers on the Chesham - Ricky branch of the Met. Recent events on the Northern line should remind us how important it is to check that the emergency braking system is tested frequently.

So, what's the problem? Well, Metronet supplied an initial estimate and LUL got the funding. Then Metronet came back with a formal estimate that was about one-third higher! So the work gets held up while management scrabble around for the extra dosh.

Weak signal

Submitted by Tubeworker on Thu, 20/10/2005 - 12:42

In response to union badgering, Connect have produced a document showing which areas have poor train radio reception.

What is puzzling reps, though, is that an earlier draft of the same document showed a lot more areas of poor quality. Have they miraculously improved? Or is something dodgy going on?

PA Failure

Submitted by Tubeworker on Wed, 19/10/2005 - 12:40

LUL thinks that it has a procedure for keeping stations open if the PA fails, involving staff making announcements through loudhailers.

We have long thought this to be a bit dodgy. But in the current security climate, it is ... er ... surely less than adequate.


Submitted by Tubeworker on Tue, 18/10/2005 - 12:39

Another non-success story about private contractors reaches us from New Cross.

A tip: When you resurface a platform, try to make sure that it is actually flat. Otherwise, big puddles can develop when it rains.

Metronet: Fight Out-sourcing!

Submitted by Tubeworker on Sun, 16/10/2005 - 12:04

Just as TubeLines is finding out what a disaster outsourcing is, the other Infraco - Metronet - is persisting with the same disastrous policy!

Union reps have reported that redundancies have already started, with Stonebridge Park managers made to apply for their own jobs and made redundant when they fail. And how's this for an example of the madness of Metronet's reorganisation? Apparently, under the new system, trains from Stonebridge Park will be hauled onto a low loader and taken by road to Northumberland Park for maintenance!

Northern Line: Unity and Action Protects Safety

Submitted by Tubeworker on Sun, 16/10/2005 - 11:19

The last few weeks’ events on the Northern line have shown three important things: PPP is a safety disaster; it is Tube workers, not management, who care about safety; and that if we stand firm, we can win.

PPP = Disaster for Safety

PPP was supposed to deliver improvements and an effective maintenance regime for the Tube. But no. Whilst TubeLines makes (robs, more like) £1million profit per week, it can’t even ensure something as basic as the emergency braking system working properly!

Service control: latest

Submitted by Tubeworker on Fri, 14/10/2005 - 19:19

Service control review ... We are still waiting for news on the mapping (ie. who's going where) and the promotional positions. Why is it taking so long? Why is the union not keeping people better informed about what is happening?

Uncertainty is very stressful, and although no-one is going to be made redundant, a lot of us still don't know where we are going to be working, or whether we will still have a job in service control come next March. It's not a nice way to treat people.

Top Tips?

Submitted by Tubeworker on Wed, 12/10/2005 - 13:00

The TeamTalk special issue on gateline management gives us 'twenty top tips'.

Tubeworker is rather puzzled by number 16 - "If a station needs to be temporarily unstaffed, gates should be secured as per local instruction".

Huh? If a station is unstaffed, however temporarily, how can the gates be left anything other than open?! After all, passengers still need to get in and out, the gates can not be in use in case they swallow valid tickets, and with no staff on duty, there will be no-one to press the plunger in an emergency.

One out - All out!

Submitted by Tubeworker on Mon, 10/10/2005 - 09:59

Unless the world's problems are sorted out very soon and very suddenly, we all know that it is matter of time before there is another terror attack on the Underground. So we need to know that we have the best system possible to protect ourselves and the passengers.

Let's face it: Code Red and Code Amber procedures are just not enough. The bottom line is that in the event of another attack, we need everyone out of the system as quickly and completely as possible.

Beyond our Ken (Beyond the Pale Ken)

Submitted by Tubeworker on Sun, 09/10/2005 - 11:05

As one of London Underground's many beleaguered Ticket Office staff who have serious concerns for their job security it was good to see our old friend Ken Livingstone stick the knife in even further with his new fare announcements for next year.With the minimum single cash fare rising to £3 regardless of what zone you're in it seems that London Underground are content to blackmail a reluctant general public into purchasing their "Wonderful and self lauded oystercards."From personal experience I have found that many customers despite so called financial savings that they find the system conf

Operational Standards?

Submitted by Tubeworker on Fri, 07/10/2005 - 14:46

Management think they have a procedure (OSN48) that allows trains to run safely without working radio.

We disagree. But would it be too much to expect them to stick to their own procedure?!

Sadly, it seems so. Under OSN48, there is supposed to be a handsignaller on every platform in a section affected by train radio failure, to communicate Code Red/Amber to drivers. But on several occasions on the District and H&C, this has not happened.

Hands up everyone who has confidence in LUL's safety regime.

Northern line braking system fails again

Submitted by Tubeworker on Thu, 06/10/2005 - 15:00

Flippin' 'eck, it's happened again. Last night, the Northern Line's emergency braking system failed for the fourth time in fourth weeks.

When the braking system failed on 9 September, the company introduced double-crewing of trains. But for who-knows-what reason (surely not cost? or fear of criticism for having to cancel trains?), they dropped it after one day, and have still not resumed it even after three further failures.

Weekend closure chaos

Submitted by Tubeworker on Tue, 04/10/2005 - 22:24

Last weekend's closure at the east end of the Picc caused chaos at Wood Green.

Drivers nearly stopped the job in protest at poor organisation and conditions. The gates swallowed singles and returns because they had not been reprogrammed, the DMIs showed the wrong destinations, rubbish built up because no manager thought to organise more collections, the replacement buses were crap, and there were not enough extra station staff duties to cope with the crowds.

Nasty Shock

Submitted by Tubeworker on Mon, 03/10/2005 - 13:21

While attending a tunnel telephone failure at a remote substation, a technician was electrocuted. The shock happened when he opened the cabinet housing the TT equipment.

He was lucky (yes, really). Because he had never been to this particular substation before, he had asked a workmate to go along. His workmate was able to catch him when he fell, and to raise the alarm and get medical attention. Without this assistance, he could have been seriously injured or even killed.


Submitted by Tubeworker on Wed, 28/09/2005 - 12:41

New Labour, New Britain ... New Metronet.

Yes really. Only two years old, and it is rebranding itself. Maybe it's trying to throw off the image of a profit-grabbing consortium that can't maintain the railway properly.

A tip: no matter how hard you try to rebrand yourself, it is hard to throw off that image when you actually are a profit-grabbing consortium that can't maintain the railway properly.

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