Tubeworker's blog

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.

Correct Side?

Submitted by Tubeworker on Mon, 26/09/2005 - 13:04

The latest plan to resolve the PTI problems at Cockfosters is to close platform 2 and only use platform 3 for trains in the middle road.

Fair enough, maybe. But a couple of tips to management ... When you introduce a measure like this:

  • 1. Tell the Line Controllers and the DOM.
  • 2. Make sure the CSDE (Correct Side Door Enabler) equipment actually works.

You might thing that such things would be basic. Not on LUL. Sometimes you wonder why we have managers at all.

Stations and Metronet: Time to Fight Back

Submitted by Tubeworker on Sun, 25/09/2005 - 20:19

- defend jobs - stop outsourcing - defend pensions -

Despite a few small concessions, the ‘new’ draft stations rosters are completely unacceptable. They will result in the displacement of staff; reduce staffing levels on stations, and so increase the level of stress, assault, and low morale.

It seems to us at Tubeworker than we should not be wasting our time trying to tinker with the rosters. LUL should withdraw these rosters and come back with rosters that give us a proper 35 hour week with no job cuts or displacements.

Rip It Up and Start Again

Submitted by Tubeworker on Sat, 24/09/2005 - 14:11

Whoops. Management have put all that effort into reviewing the Working Reference Manual, but overlooked the small matter of involving health and safety reps from the Infracos.

Anyone would think they just wanted to do a bit of ‘streamlining’ and don’t really care what the staff think. Don’t mind us, we only work here.

Shedding Light

Submitted by Tubeworker on Sat, 24/09/2005 - 14:05

Isn’t it funny how when there is a disaster, management agree to safety improvements, then, when they think that everyone has forgotten about it, they try to reverse the improvements on the sly?

After the Camden and Hammersmith derailments two years go, the Infracos agreed to introduce ‘Lampmen’ (‘Lamp-persons’, surely?) to make sure that track patrols could actually see what they are doing. But now, Metronet plans to withdraw them.

Service Control Restructuring

Submitted by Tubeworker on Sat, 24/09/2005 - 13:40

Why are we waiting? Milestone 1 was finally implemented on 18 September, which means that everyone whose job is mapped across into the new structure gets their pay rise. However, everyone who is at risk is still in limbo waiting for news of whether they still have a job in Service Control.

The closed listing application process for filling promotional vacancies is also taking longer than originally stated.

MEL part 57

Submitted by Tubeworker on Fri, 23/09/2005 - 13:38

The introduction of MEL (Manual Electronic Logging) into some of the Met and District Line signal cabins is reportedly imminent. So we might be forgiven for wondering why the MEL team (extra staff seconded to work at Harrow-on-the-Hill cabin to assist with MEL), which had been kicking its heels since May, has just been disbanded. Good question.

And how is the introduction of MEL going to be supported at Harrow, given what a busy cabin it is and given that the introduction of MEL will mean extra workload?

A Bit Dim

Submitted by Tubeworker on Thu, 22/09/2005 - 21:49

As drivers and passengers will know, the platform lights at Northwood are not exactly bright. In fact, they are so dim that they are a menace.

Staff hoped that things would look brighter (sorry!) when LUL finally got round to carrying out a lux test. But unfortunately, the results had to be discounted because the testing equipment did not work properly. Not enough brightness in the management grades, perhaps?

There and Back Again

Submitted by Tubeworker on Thu, 22/09/2005 - 17:29

Learning and Development was transferred from LUL to TfL a couple of years back. Now it's coming back again!

Tubeworker would really like to know how much this pointless exercise has cost - both in terms of money and of disruption to staff.

Broken Rails

Submitted by Tubeworker on Wed, 21/09/2005 - 12:10

LUL has managed to admit that there have been too many broken rails of late. Getting them to admit the cause of the problem, though, might take longer.

It seems plain to Tubeworker that if a railway is carrying more people over more miles, then it needs better maintenance. Instead, we have the extra traffic, and … PPP ... meaning, erm, worse maintenance!

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