Last week saw the future of the Underground thrust firmly into the light again thanks to the leak, by the RMT, of an internal London Underground Operation Strategy Discussion Paper to selected news sources. The OSDP, produced earlier this summer, had provoked the ire of the RMT and soon had newspaper editors reaching for the 72pt type.

The reasons for this reaction are pretty obvious. The paper features two of the hottest topics in the arena of London transport – ticket office closures and driverless trains.

Both are topics that provoke strong – often emotive – reactions from supporters and opponents alike. For London’s travelling public, “safety” and “staffing” aren’t just abstract arguments, they’re words of power. They provoke very real memories of what has happened in the recent past, and tug at that subconscious nagging fear that exists somewhere within us all of travelling deep beneath the ground in narrow tubes filled with hundreds of tons of metal moving at high speeds. A fear that’s normally mitigated by the knowledge that somewhere nearby, at all times, is someone who hopefully knows what they’re doing.

Yet almost paradoxically, the idea of increased automation is no longer to many the bogeyman that it once was. This is largely thanks to the wholesale breakdown in industrial relations that has plagued London’s transport network now for well over a decade. There is plenty of fault for this to be found on both sides of the table, but the net result is that the idea of a network that is less susceptible to strike action is now one that has found fans on the left as well as the right.

Given that the OSD Paper touches on both these crucial areas (and, frankly, because any internal paper is like a moth to a flame here at LR Towers), we have thus worked to put together a full summary of its contents. As with our previous summaries of internal reports (such as the DLR Horizon 2020 and Bakerloo Extension report), the LR Team have not seen the full OSDP. As with those previous reports, however, we are confident that the analysis here, based on what has appeared in the public sphere and what we have built up through sources, is accurate.

And here, to our own admitted surprise, is where it gets interesting because the OSDP isn’t really about ticket office closures or driverless trains. It’s the first outline of something far, far, more wide reaching and complex – a complete programme of organisational and cultural change aimed at modernising London Underground, in the course of which changes to the way ticketing and trains work both naturally feature.

As a result, this analysis is split into three parts. The first two of those focus primarily on providing as much detail on the Paper’s contents as possible, with this first article focusing on the changes to ticketing and station staffing that the Paper appears to suggest. This will then shortly be followed by a piece focusing on the Paper’s suggestions with regards to trains and line operation. Finally, in the third piece, we will focus on analysis of the Paper’s contents. As will become clear to readers, its suggestions appear to be wide-ranging and very much challenge the accepted status quo with regards to many aspects of London Underground’s current operations. Implementing them in any format would require wholesale organisational and cultural change that would need to be carefully managed, and just what that might mean for management and staff is something we will look at it in more detail later.

Putting the Paper in Context

Finally, before digging deep into the analysis, it is worth pausing briefly to place the Paper into the appropriate context. The RMT have painted the OSDP as a fully-fledged strategy document with corporate buy-in at a senior level. In contrast, TfL and London Underground (largely through the words of Mike Brown) have claimed it is very much a bare-bones middle-management document, one of the many “what-if” concept papers that can be found in any major organisation.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the truth lies somewhere between both views. The OSDP is not a fully fledged strategy document, but it is the framework around which one could be built. It broadly addresses all the key evidence and issues, and highlights what further actions and exploration would be necessary to take things forward. It is also very clearly a senior management paper – the product of the lower echelons of that be-suited order, but as our esteemed friend the FactCompiler would no doubt point out, it is really at that level that most real decisions are made.

Overall, therefore, the Paper should perhaps pragmatically be treated as representing the spirit, but not yet the law. It is probably reflective of a general feeling at a senior level as to how London Underground might best push forward, but at the same time is certainly not a firm strategy (or at least not yet) whose numbers and ideas should be considered as entirely reliable.

Overall Goals

Sources indicated that the Paper’s overall objective is to address a relatively basic problem. Over the next 10 years, London Underground will need not only to meet all their existing objectives and targets – including already identified needs to improve customer service and reliability – but also any new ones that arise . They will also need to do so with less resources than they have now.

To address this, it appears the Paper suggests some rather radical ideas (at least in contrast to how things operate now):

1) A complete overhaul of how ticketing works and is accessed.
2) A rethink of how stations are staffed, managed and operated
3) A movement away from cab-based driver operations to something more similar to the DLR “train captain” approach.
4) Greater centralisation, where possible, of line operations – particularly on the Sub-Surface Lines (SSL).
5) Increased use of technology to facilitate all the above.

The Future of Smartcards

In ticketing terms, it has been well documented that the Paper advocates a long-term switch to Wave and Pay as the primary means of travel. Much work needs to be done as to the logistics and underlying technology, but early trials of this will begin on London’s buses next year with weekly Wave and Pay travel – which will include weekly capping – manifesting more widely from 2013 onwards.

That this features in the Paper is not particularly surprising. It has long been suggested that Oyster, as a product, has been seen internally at LU as having a somewhat limited shelf-life. By the middle of the decade an alternative, better solution was expected to be needed to replace the highly successful but now somewhat stretched Oyster system. Sources indicate that the Paper argues that Wave and Pay is the preferred solution here.

At first glance, this may seem an almost like-for-like deal (at least in transaction terms). Given that London Underground admit (and have reiterated this week) that they anticipate there will always be a need to have some kind of basic smartcard available for those without compatible cash or credit cards, it may also seen slightly redundant. There is, however, a potential benefit for LU. Something sources suggest the OSDP highlights.

This is in the area of ticket sales. One of Oyster’s biggest benefits for LU has been the simplification of the ticket purchase itself. Oyster – particularly through PAYG – has massively reduced the amount of ticket purchases that actually take place via the ticket window. Indeed the Paper apparently asserts that of the approximately 150m ticket window transactions each year, only 5% now actually involve ticket sales. Instead, the vast majority of face-to-face transactions are now either issue resolution or refunds, or – crucially – sales of the physical Oyster Card itself.

Oyster’s penetration and its impact on ticketing operations, the Paper thus allegedly suggests, has now reached its effective natural apogee. Wave and Pay, however, would represent an opportunity to bite into the remaining 5% of transactions, because it would remove the need to purchase the initial card.

The Future of Ticket Offices

The above also sets the context for the changes that have received the bulk of the reportage on the Paper so far – Ticket Office changes.

The changes the Papers suggests here, sources indicate, are arguably some of its most wide reaching. It is also from this section that many of the quotations that have appeared publicly have most certainly been taken. It is almost certainly from here that the figure of 30 ticket offices (re-branded as “travel centres”) to remain open has been taken.

What those quotes lack, however, is the full context – something that the smartcard changes begin to provide. For the Paper, sources suggest, argues not so much for the closure of ticket offices but a fundamental re-evaluation of the ticket hall concept in general.

The current ticket hall, it argues, presents travellers with the choice between either a full human experience at the ticket window or a more limited (but often quicker) experience at the ticket machine with little human support. This is already out of balance with how the majority of users now use the network and, with Wave and Pay, will be even more out of balance in the medium-to-long term. This, the Paper argues, is bad for customers and London Underground’s finances.

Instead, the Paper suggests that the average ticket hall should comprise automatic ticket machines with comparable functionality to the current ticket office (including the ability to offer refunds, resolve journeys and sell Oyster Cards) supported by staff in the hall itself taking a more proactive customer service role.

In order to achieve the above, the Paper argues, there would need to be a long term, staged plan that would see ticket machines replaced and upgraded to add not only the newly required feature set, but also a much improved User Interface. It would also see the complete reworking of machine and ticket hall frontage, the revaluation and simplification of signage and instructions, and essentially a wholesale overhaul of the ticket hall environment.

Alongside this technical and environmental overhaul, would come an overhaul in staff roles and responsibilities in relation to ticketing. Sources suggest the Paper argues largely for ending the demarcation between station operation and transactions/customer support.

We will touch more on this subject later, but in the context of ticket office operations, it appears that this will see a much greater focus placed on proactive customer service and assistance in job roles, objectives and staff development.

Refocusing ticket halls and staffing above, the report apparently suggests, would make it possible to close the majority of ticket offices (rather than ticket halls) outside of major stations and interchanges – i.e. places where a greater human element (often to deal with those unfamiliar with London’s transport systems at all) is very much still needed.

Taken together and in context, therefore, the Paper’s ticketing suggestions though still huge in scope, make considerably more sense – and seem a little less like the “slash and burn” cost-saving exercise that some sources have otherwise painted them to be. Indeed that London Underground regard their current ticket office set-up as largely outmoded is not exactly a secret, and both the press office and senior management at TfL have been actively vocal on the point for some time. As Peter Hendy (in)famously opined last year:

If you want to read a lot of good novels the best place to do that is as a booking clerk in a suburban Underground station

A general transition to the “assisted automation” model of sales and customer service is also not a particularly new concept in the field of retail, where it is already becoming seen as the model for general low-impact transations. “Self-Service” checkouts have become an ever-increasing presence on the Supermarket shop floor and, more and more, have actually become the primary checkout option. The newer “Metro” and “Express” stores of Sainsbury and Tesco all take this approach and it is increasingly present on the station concourse as well with WH Smith.

Stations, however, obviously aren’t just places where people sell tickets, and so the suggestion of changes to staffing style and arrangements has obvious impact beyond simply ticketing. Thus it is worth turning now to what else sources suggest the Paper argues for here.

The Future of Station Staffing

Alongside and building on the reworked ticket hall concept, sources suggest the Paper argues for a wholesale rethink of how stations are staffed.

The paper, it appears, suggests that the current division between Station Supervisor (which focuses on operational issues and asset management) and Duty Manager (which has more of a staff and people focus) roles is something that should change going forward. Sources suggest the Paper argues that both roles should be combined, going forward, into a single Station Supervisor role.

This individual would be directly accountable for all aspects of station performance as well as taking a more explicit people management role. In line with the anticipated need to change the way ticket halls work, they would also be expected to take a more active role in making sure that customer service needs were met, and would be given greater flexibility to manage and deploy staff in order to balance the ops and customer service requirements in line with each station’s specific need.

In order for the above centralisation of those two roles to happen, it appears that the Paper suggests that greater centralisation of the operational side of station activity into London Underground control centres will be required. The technology to allow mobile monitoring of all key station functions by Station Supervisors would also need to be put in place.

Sources suggest the Paper argues that under this structure, Station/Deputy Supervisors could be deployed more flexibly than under the current arrangement. In Outer London this would possibly equate to Station Supervisors being responsible for small clusters of stations, for example ,with the number of deputies varying as appropriate.

Overall, this merger and revaluation of the Station Supervisor and Duty Manager roles seems to be the greatest change to station roles that the Paper suggests. Sources suggest it would result in a net reduction of approximately 750 Supervisor/Manager roles across the network, with the creation of approximately 500 lower grade roles necessary to ensure the new structure worked.

Sources suggest that this isn’t the only change that the Paper suggests, however. It appears it also argues for a wholesale rethinking of how station rostering currently works as well.

Rethinking Rostering

In rostering terms, sources suggest that the Paper argues that the current approach taken to staff rostering is no longer a good fit for the network. The current policy, it argues, of allocating a fixed percentage of permanent staff cover (about 37%) to individual Station Groups is inherently inefficient, and doesn’t allow sufficiently for the fact that needs vary greatly from day-to-day and from station-to-station. This, the Paper seems to argue, leaves London Underground paying more for its cover than any other operator, whilst still resulting in situations where individual Station Groups find themselves insufficiently staffed.

Sources suggest that to help address this, the Paper proposes converting 30% of the current fixed cover resources to a carefully evaluated and managed system of overtime allowance based on individual Station Group needs.

Whilst “overtime” has become a somewhat emotive word in itself when attached to public services (particularly the Metropolitan Police) it is easy to see why the Paper argues there’d be benefits for London Underground in such a shift. Beyond the obvious flexibility it would provide in coverage terms, in financial terms it would almost certainly also end up a cheaper proposition for

London Underground. Not only would overtime only be paid on hours worked, but it is often forgotten that sometimes overtime can work out cheaper for an organisation than paying for full time coverage as it doesn’t have implications for annual leave allowances or pension contributions.

Rethinking Network-wide Cover

Alongside this shift to a more overtime-led model, it seems the Paper also argues for a rethink of the roles of London Underground’s Special Requirements Team (SRT) and its Revenue Control Team (RCT).

The SRT’s current role is to provide additional resourcing network-wide for specific events and projects that push a station (or Station Group’s) needs beyond that of its general staffing requirement – they provide extra station staff where required during the Notting Hill Carnival, for example.

Sources suggest the Paper argues that if an overtime approach is taken to address covering needs, the role of the SRT should also be expanded to include the provision of long term cover for the likes of maternity and sickness – i.e. the more ongoing needs of station groups that would not be best served by overtime.

In a similar vein, the Revenue Control Team has also become increasingly used as a network-wide staffing resource – again used to boost staff numbers for events and projects rather than simply for specific revenue collection activity. This, the Paper apparently suggests, has meant that the number of Revenue Inspectors within London Underground has remained largely consistent for the last 10 years, whilst at the same time the actual fraud profile on the network has changed hugely.

Essentially, an almost fully-gated network and the transition to Oyster and other measures has meant that the fraud on the Underground has dropped almost 60% over the last 5 years, and the role of the Inspector has slipped further and further down the chain of importance. Yet despite this, the network still has the same amount of Inspectors as it did 10 years ago.

It appears, therefore, that the Paper argues that the size of the RCT should be scaled back and refocused on the role for which it was created, with additional resource deployed elsewhere into explicit station support roles if needed, rather than being used as a “shadow reserve” to be called upon to address holes in station staffing.

Finally, sources suggest that the Paper proposes several other changes to the way station staffing works. This includes an increase in the use of part-time staff to cover demand peaks and a revaluation of the way rosters are drawn up in general, with the intention being to swap the current manual planning methods for a more fit for purpose system.

It appears that the Paper also suggests a rethink of the approach to banked rest days. These were introduced in 2006 to compensate staff for working a 37.5 hour week. In return for doing so, station staff currently receive an extra 15 days as time off in lieu each year. The Paper, it is believed, suggests that this should not be universal, with some roles being switched to 35 hours a week where appropriate, removing the need for this provision.

Overall, as can be seen, when assessed in detail, the Operational Strategy Development Paper seems to paint a far larger picture than that which has currently been displayed. It is certainly a potentially controversial one, as the ticketing and staffing changes covered here already highlight. Managing and implementing those changes would require a careful programme of organisational change, even without the suggested changes to line and train operation which we will cover in the next part of this piece. Just what shape that change might take, and what signs exist that this change process might already be beginning to be implemented, are something we will explore at a later date.

Next: Train and Line Operation

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There are 56 comments on this article
  1. Wildchild says:

    I’ll get in first before the usual wave of nostalgic cavalry arrives decrying the closure of ticket offices that get used about once a week on a Tuesday afternoon… (won’t somebody think of the children!)

    These proposals are intriguing. It’s difficult to see the exact model of “Tesco self-checkout” working exactly the same, because stations are much busier than Tescos. But in a world where more and more people are becoming used to such things, this is clearly the right direction to be moving in. It would also presumably mean an end to the Oyster/non-Oyster fares apartheid, since there’d be no distinction between a “cash” and “smartcard” fare.

    What’s really needed to extend trust in the Oyster system is a robust Autofill sytsem to catch accidental incomplete/uncompleted journeys. Some progress has been made here but more is needed.

  2. Ryan K says:

    “The net result is that the idea of a network that is less susceptible to strike action is now one that has found fans on the left as well as the right.”

    Spot on. And this is isn’t just limited to rail. Look at what happened to Qantas in the aviation industry this past weekend. While I don’t know all the facts, I admire Qantas CEO Alan Joyce’s courage to fight the behavior of the unions.

  3. Greg Tingey says:

    Industrial Relations
    at LUL are bad.
    Much as I dislike Bob Crowe, one thing sticks out – he doesn’t seem to be able to get nearly the level of so-called “militancy” in other operating areas. Why should that be so?
    You all know my answer to this.
    That LUL treat their staff in the same way they sneeringly regard all their passengers as illiterate sub-human morons who need nannying and loud verbal bullying avery 30 seconds to keep in line.
    I’ve been told by more than one LUL staff-member, that they hate “the announcements too – but we’ll get it in the neck from Management if we don’t”
    Recently, I’ve had to travel on very early-morning tubes, and the announcement-fever seems absent – what a relief that is!

    But, what happens if I don’t want a machine – I want to talk to a human – as is, I believe my legal right?
    Why should I pay a supermarket my time to count my goods?
    Anyway most of my supermarket purchases invoilve a bottle or two of wine – which buggers the “automation” completely, anyway.
    Oh, and the software is crap – I think I’ve only ever got through the process twice. The rest of the time I’ve ended up either shouting at the moronic staff-suprevisor, or walking across to the manual queue! (Or both)
    Reverting to topic, I very rarely use an LUL ticket-office for ANY reason. I’m over 65, and I keep a topped-up Oyster, for other use inside London. And, of course, my nearest station has a manned ticket office for outside-London purchases – and that’s the one I use.

    There MUST be at least ONE person available at all times on any LUL station, surely, who can act a a real “customer interface” (ugh!) to inform, help and guide the public. That said person could/should also be available to issue tickets, if necessary (because they know the wrinkles in the wonder-machine, presently vapourware) that is envisaged, for normal use.
    You are going to have a problem here.
    Those staff are going to have to be multi-talented, and HELPFUL.
    Both of these are contrary to the current LUL “management” ethos – so it could be very interesting getting there ….
    I foresee some very very interesting negotiations for the necessary staff restructuring that will have to be done, and the pay rates required. Because it will mean that every single present platform-&-ticket-&-inspection staff grade will cease to exist, in their present forms, and an entirely new structure and organisation will be needed.
    With the same, present “management” heirarchy?
    Including the bullying culture?
    Somehow, I think not.
    Interesting times indeed.

    Incidentally, I once worked for a US multinational in this country, and they instituted an “improved quality” programme, which everyone was supposed to buy into – and did – until ….
    Management suddenly said, “Oh, but this improvement and mutual scrutiny doesn’t apply to US!
    You can guess what happened.
    Also, I note the difference between LUL staff, and those working on the platforms for the TOC’s in London – I’ve had quite a bit of interaction with the latter, this year, and, generally speaking their attitude and friendly helpfulness makes a stark contrast to the LUL ethos. It will be interesting to see, as time goes by, if Loo-Roll staff go the way of their fellows on the other ex-BR surface lines, or if LUL’s “management” style pervades. I do hope it is the former.

  4. Greg Tingey says:

    Ryan K
    Excuse me, but you are a completely ignorant idiot, and your quote: …”courage to fight the behavior of the unions” is something of a give-away as to your lack of mental state..
    Here are some FACTS:

    QUANTAS was making a profit overall.
    Its profits were declining, because management hung on to older, less fuel-efficien arircraft, and are now trying to extract savings from the workforce….
    QUANTAS has some subsidiaries in Asia, including Jetstar, which appear to be making a much bigger profit with “Asian” employees and other pay conditions… unfortunately there are invisible money-flows between QUANTAS and its subsidiaries which are extremely suspect, shall we say, so no-one can really tell what profit is being made where.
    The AUS employees were being offered a low pay-rise, meanwhile Joyce gets an approximately 71% pay-rise – erm, err ….
    The areas in dispute were QUANTAS overseas, there was NO dispute, other than verbal, with QUANTAS Australia – that is the internal flights. Yet Joyce grounded ALL QUANTAS flights, and locked-out ALL employees, including those he was not in any dispute with.
    I suspect he’s in dispute with them now.

  5. ASLEF shrugged says:

    On “The Future of Ticket Offices” & “The Future of Smartcards”
    Don’t care. I’m a train driver.

    On “The Future of Station Staffing”.
    All they appear to be suggesting is to change the Duty Managers into Station Supervisors and Station Supervisors into Deputy Station Supervisors.

    On “Rethinking Rostering”
    As long as they can cover the minimum staffing levels required under the fire regs then anything is possible. Just remember that all overtime will be voluntary and cannot be relied on to supply adequate cover.

    On “Rethinking Network-wide Cover”
    Once again as long as staffing meets the legal requirements there shouldn’t be a problem.

  6. ASLEF shrugged says:

    Now that I think baout it I seem to recall hearing some of these proposals back when I was working on stations many years ago but they were never implemented. Just goes to show how little imagination LUL management has, they’re still recycling ideas that are over ten years old.

  7. tim says:

    QUANTAS – it never has and never will have a U in it – ever – you are a completely ignorant idiot

  8. John Bull says:

    But, what happens if I don’t want a machine – I want to talk to a human – as is, I believe my legal right?

    As indicated in the article, the paper doesn’t propose removing that. What it argues for is moving it outside of the ticket window and into the hall.

    So, the theory goes at least, a member of staff is there at your side the moment it appears you need help – or at the very least the moment you indicate that you do, rather than you having to queue up for a window. Basically you still get your human interaction, just not at the window.

    Oh, and the software is crap – I think I’ve only ever got through the process twice. The rest of the time I’ve ended up either shouting at the moronic staff-suprevisor, or walking across to the manual queue!

    Again, read the article – the Paper seems to clearly argue that shifting to an assisted automation model is only possible alongside a complete revamp of the machines and environment. Basically its contingent on the software not being crap.

    Your points on the scale of the organisational change required are correct, however – this is something we’ll look at in the third article in this series, after we’ve gone through its contents in as much detail as we can.

    Finally, to both Greg and others, as always this is not the place for name calling. Debate the argument not the man if you must, and do so with the same level of politeness you’d expect others to show you in person, or don’t do it at all. Any further comments that don’t do this will be deleted, even if they contain good content as well. Sorry, but this isn’t YouTube.

  9. Anonymous says:

    As someone who works in a de-unionised sector I would rather like to have someone stand up for my interests.

    But then I look at the wrecking ball tactics of Bob C et al and think, “No thanks”.

    I mean who could not be looking at the priorities summarised in this post, i.e.:

    1) A complete overhaul of how ticketing works and is accessed.
    2) A rethink of how stations are staffed, managed and operated
    3) A movement away from cab-based driver operations to something more similar to the DLR “train captain” approach.
    4) Greater centralisation, where possible, of line operations – particularly on the Sub-Surface Lines (SSL).
    5) Increased use of technology to facilitate all the above.

    …when looking at the future of LU? They’re just common sense.

    An irony is of course that if the unions hadn’t succeeded in jacking up wage costs to the absurd levels, particularly for LU drivers, that they have reached then LU wouldn’t be so keen on reducing driver and ticket office staff numbers.

  10. Alex F. says:

    All of this appears to be very reasonable (and I think I’m quite surprised by that).
    Impatiently waiting for part 2 🙂

  11. Fandroid says:

    The assisted machine ticket purchase sounds fine to me. That’s what works at my home station. I do a lot of train travel on National Rail and almost never go to a ticket window anymore. The only remaining usefulness of National Rail ticket windows for me is to get help to fight my way through some of the more arcane ticket pricing rules and restrictions (which all seem to be getting worse as time goes by). LUL can avoid all that by keeping the pricing and restrictions very simple. However, they should think of putting in at least one machine in every Underground station capable of selling a rail ticket to anywhere in GB. So providing a one-stop shop and gaining a few quids from the commission.

    I don’t have trouble with purchasing wine using self service machines at stations, because they don’t sell any! (perhaps they could try selling railway mags?)

    As for Wave & Pay, I find that the ability to keep my travel purchases separate from my normal debit/credit card purchases very useful. A lot of my (irregular) tube travel is on expenses, so the Oyster journey histories are vital for my personal cash flow. It’s very convincing for my bosses to be able to see exactly where I travelled to, and that I hadn’t skipped off on a sightseeing tour funded by them. Getting another credit card solely for travel is a possible way out, but that wouldn’t necessarily have the whole journey histories on its monthly statement.

  12. Anonymous me says:

    An interesting review, and I look forward to the trains part. However, there is one error, regarding Banked rest Days:.
    “These were introduced in 2006 to compensate staff for working a 37.5 hour week. In return for doing so, station staff currently receive an extra 15 days holiday a year.”

    BRDs are NOT holidays!. This is a common mistake that is made. LU deliberately quotes BRDs as holidays whenever there is any mention of what staff earn etc. BRDs are time off in lieu for unpaid hours worked. Being a tube driver, I don’t know how many hours station staff work, but drivers and station staff are paid a 35 hour week. Drivers work a 36 hour week, meaning that they work one hour per week without pay. They then get this time back as six days off at normal pay during the year.

    As far as changes go, it is inevitable that TfL will want to make changes. Technologoy is always changing and, like in any other business, TfL needs to take advantage of this. I think most staff realise and accept this. Gone are teh days where there was a driver, Guard and Gatemen on tube stock, a signal cabin at almost every station and a station awash with staff. What TfL / LU must focus on is making sure that there are always staff availble for passengers when they need advice or assistance.

  13. John Bull says:

    Cheers anonymous – have reworded the BRD section.

    @Fandroid – aye, I like having my travel and bank account seperate, and I suspect many people still will. It makes the financial management aspect of it much easier for me.

  14. ASLEF shrugged says:

    “What TfL / LU must focus on is making sure that there are always staff availble for passengers when they need advice or assistance” Anonymous me

    When I first started on the Tube I was one of a group sent as Reserves to the Edgware Road Group as Paddington was undergoing extensive rebuilding work and someone had to the sense to ensure that there were enough staff to deal with the extra work.

    Over the last ten years or so LUL have let natural wastage whittle down the numbers and then reorganised in February shedding 650 positions across the entire network. The result is that a few weeks back a DSM sent out an email asking other stations not to send MIPs and VIPs to Victoria during the peak as they didn’t have enough staff to deal with that while the building work was on.

    LUL doesn’t give a wet slap about customer service, they simply want to cut the wage bill in order to keep the bean counters happy.

  15. Anonymous says:


    It’s easy to have a pop at Tfl, but they’re under constant pressure to keep costs down.

    Outside of revenue raised by the network itself Tfl’s funding comes from either its owning long-term borrowing or grants via Whitehall, and since overall Tfl’s income is far from covering its costs (although the Tube itself breaks-even I believe) money matters. The former is an obvious timebomb if not kept in check, look at MTA in NY to see what happens if you let debt get out of the control. But the second source is equally important, as transport is a bit down the priority of most national governments whilst in the UK any serving government is under massive pressure to spread infrastructure funding away from London. Remember that Westminster kept funding for Tfl at the agreed level as long as savings worth billions were made.

    In many other cities this is less of an issue as most grants come from local authorities who a) place transport on a higher footing than national governments, esp. in cities; b) have more fiscal autonomy meaning either taxes can be raised or even fresh ones levied, and/or money from one area cutback to fund another.

  16. Anonymous says:

    BRDs are NOT holidays!. This is a common mistake that is made. LU deliberately quotes BRDs as holidays whenever there is any mention of what staff earn etc. BRDs are time off in lieu for unpaid hours worked. Being a tube driver, I don’t know how many hours station staff work, but drivers and station staff are paid a 35 hour week. Drivers work a 36 hour week, meaning that they work one hour per week without pay. They then get this time back as six days off at normal pay during the year.

    While I appreciate your post was in general sensible, do you have any idea how this stuff reads to people not on the gravy train?

    I earn considerably less than Tube train drivers and regularly work 40 or 50 hours weeks. During one particularly epic stretch of regularly working 60 hour weeks I racked up 2 WEEKS extra work on top of my contracted hours.

    What did I get back? Two days off time in lieu.

    My wife regularly works 70+hour weeks, sometimes stretching to 100 hour weeks. Neither of us get any overtime.

    We’re far from unusual. So my sympathy for you with your extra hour per week and moans about BRDs not being holidays is


  17. Anonymous says:

    If you are talking about staffing levels…

    To do my daily journey from Highbury & Islington to Hatfield:

    1) I buy a ticket from a man in the ticket office at H&I.
    2) I enter through ticket machine gate.
    3) At Finsbury Park, – my ticket does not work in the ticket gate as I transfer to the Overground platform. A man at the gate has to inspect my ticket and let me through.
    4) My ticket is checked on the train by ticket inspectors about 2 or 3 times a week.
    5) When I exact at Hatfield station, my ticket does not work in the ticket gate, – again a man is stationed there to inspect my ticket and let me know.

    I’m not sure the man in the ticket office is the real problem, – what about all the gate attendants, and ticket inspectors on the trains? Why does the ticket I buy not work in these gates?

    – James

  18. Anonymous says:

    Most of the suggestions so far seem eminently sensible.

    The idea that the staff sitting in the ticket office will just move onto the “shop floor” instead, and the ticket hall replaced with “automated tills” seems so sensible that that it is difficult to argue with.

    I presume the property assets office is already measuring up the ticket offices and pondering which retailers they can squeeze into them 🙂

    The lack of flexibility in staff rostering though is going to kill off the other ideas, which is a pity on a lot of grounds. If you look at the remarkable red-tape that the RMT has managed to wrap the company up in when it comes to a person moving from one station to another it is a miracle that anything ever happens.

    As someone who worked in customer facing roles for 10 years, I actually liked the flexibility of moving around occasionally when another branch needed help – it added variety to the job, and even if at times it was a pain to get to work – that was part of the variety in the routine.

    The changes may save the company money, but the flexibility they create would also make the job much more interesting for the people who work there.

    It’ll be interesting to see if some of those suggestions are viable within the existing Byzantinism approach to anything to do with staff issues.

  19. EW says:

    This is the sort of quality reporting I wish we could get in the mainstream media. Have a non emotional factual ‘Ronseal’ headline, describe the context, players and factors involved, be open on the quality of your sources, report on the factual materially relevant content and provide opinions in a non sensational manner and moderate comments to focus debate on the content.

    OK its not as colourful as a LT or RMT bashing headline but it offers readers a chance to make their own mind up rather than pander to the entrenched prejudice and ignorance of particular groups.

    Keep up the good work. I’m looking forward to the remaining parts of this series of articles.

  20. Greg Tingey says:

    Some correspondents STILL don’t get it!
    Crow is a semi-Marxist shit-stirrer.
    Why is he so “successful'” at LUL, and not elsewhere?
    Because LUL management is crap.

    If the entire “platform” staff-structure has to change – and it will, will there be corresponding management changes, as there should be? Don’t bet on it.

    It still stands for…

    And, AFAIK, they are the only established airline on the planet with a 100% safety record.
    The swine Joyce seems all set to lose that record.
    FYI my wife is a tax accountant, working in the City, so she’s not what you’d call a left-winger, shall we say.
    Yet her opinion of Joyce (admittedly she’s a Kiwi) is that the Aus guvmint should disown his citizenship, and send the bugger back to Ireland, where he can cosy up to Ryanair…..

  21. John Bull says:

    If the entire “platform” staff-structure has to change – and it will, will there be corresponding management changes, as there should be? Don’t bet on it.

    A very pertinent point – something we’ll be touching on in Part 3, when we talk about change mechanisms.

    Basically cultural change doesn’t mean making the “proles” see things managements way. It means everyone accepting that a new way of working is in the best interests of the organisation. Without jumping too far ahead, its about being Toyota not “Consignia.”

    @EW – glad you’re finding the style useful. It’s what we try and aim for, for exactly the reasons you mention.

  22. Arkady says:

    James, why don’t you just embark national rail at Highbury & Islington, rather than taking one stop to Finsbury Park and getting on it there?

  23. Jeremy says:

    James: I understand taking the Victoria line to Finsbury Park (it’s quicker, more frequent, and exists at night and at weekends) – but there’s no need for a ticket person there. Follow the signs for National Rail from the Victoria line platform and you’ll find that there’s a set of spiral stairs that take you to the bottom of the steps to the platform inside the NR station. The whole thing doesn’t involve leaving the ticketed zone.

  24. Anonymous says:

    ((Bing Bong)) This is your captain speaking welcome aboard Qantas flight Q1234 to Los Clactos..
    Today on board is myself your captain. We no longer have a Co-pilot as this was not needed – Refreshments are available at the reat of the plane in the self service machine – sorry this machine does not give change.

    This is the LU thinking of the future.
    Its fine having a supervisor in charge of 24 checkouts in the supermarket. “supervisor to checkout til 3 please”.

    But… In the undergroundground its a different matter. The stations outside Zone 1 and 2, have had staff reduced already. Many stations now have just the one person from 10A:M until last train.

    You are thinking AND? …

    The underground is an anti-job. Its not what we do when trains and tickets are working well.
    Its the way we work when it all goes tits up.
    Commutors are routine based people – you get up a the same time you do the same things, you go to work same time, stand at the same door for the train get off same place. Have lunch same place go home etc ,etc.

    Then that one day “Signal Failure” – No Trains ! That person on the station you want them to advise you of alternative routes or ways to get to work. Meanwhile that same person may be the member of staff who is dealing with that signal failure.
    ah yeas but other members of staff from other stations will come and help right? Wrong!.
    Because they are also dealing with members of the public there they are already working.

    LU are proposing that gateline staff will be on stations on their own and a supervisor will be roaming about lots of stations skipping merily etc..
    Then that unfortunate day – and we are now ( DEC ) in as we call it “Silly Season”.
    For what ever reason a person goes under a train. could be drunk, ill or and its happens 1 per day around Dec – a person jumps.
    The supervisor is trained to deal with that incident. The gateline staff continues to pass information to customers.
    Even tho the station may be closed.
    Ah yeas but the train driver he can help – Well sometimes yes but they have just witnessed a person fall infront of the train – how would you feel if you ran someone over in your car?
    Could you then get out of your car. call for help direct traffic and help the person who may be trapped under your car. All at the same time? Or would you ber shaken up and may need expert help yourself?
    If the supervisor is at another station they then have to somehow get to the station that the person is under the train at. Yes the emergency services would be on the way – The emergency services expect to be given details and met to take them to the train etc.
    One person doing it all . dealing with the incident The train diver – the passengers on the train – the constant need for information to those outside the station – the emergency teams. the person under the train.
    You think as a member of the public this is all deemed acceptable? that person could be you or a member of your family.

    Whilst trains are running well. staff do other stuff like gateline work or selling tickets or giving information etc
    Underground are not only tickets and trains – we are londons SatNav – Visitors and casual travellers as well as commutors. Yes we all have Apps on posh phones but you cant beat directions from a person using a pen on a tube map – or am i being old fashioned?

    As a member of the public- would you be happy in a tunnel knowing the train has no driver and you have stopped in a tunnel. Even now with a driver and they dont say nothing over the tannoy people get panicky.

    London Underground is the oldest metro sytem and most complicated in the world. This means you need a high level of staff.

    Ticket Offices have been engineered by LU. so you now buy your tickets from machines.
    When a ticket office only opens for 2 hours a day its no wonder ticket sales are down.
    People like dealing with people.

  25. LU Mole says:

    I must say I do enjoy Greg’s nuanced and forensic analysis of a story, especially when juxtaposed with the wider political and social landscape.

    Now I’m left of center in my views, a left winger…sorry ‘left winger’ to coin a gregism. But the fact is that driving a train in 2011 is not the same and has less responsibility and skill than it did in 1911 or even 1950. True, the operating protocols and interdependant systems (human and machine) do depend on a driver but that can be changed. Trains DO almost drive themselves, planes DO largley fly themselves and could land themselves undercertain conditions (if the regs allowed it). Unions are important, especially for lower grades who may be large in number but individually have no voice, but Bob Crow’s tactics are simply to negotiate higer and higher wages, the RMT do have some good people and do help the a lot of put upon staff but mostly it’s a protection racket by another name. The Banks and financial institutions are not averse to strong arming the authorities, nor is Bob. It’s sad because he’s doing the union movement no favours, I don;t see much evidence of a higher moral principle. I just see £ signs, no different to a body like the British Bankers Association or other body representing their members, the safety argument is a red herring. It’s the renumeration package they want protected.

  26. LU Mole says:

    Sorry, we’re talking station staff…. same applies in principle though. If the management changes somehow meant that the staff got higer pay or more holiday the ‘safety concerns’ would melt away.

    By the way, most station staff LOVE there job and are proud to wear the uniform. Frankly, who doesnt want to protect their job and boost their pay. It’s the tactics that I hate, I’ve been on the recieving end of consultation with union reps. It’s like talking to The Sopranos.

    Look to Germany for how modern unions can protect their members and the long term health of the companies they work in.

  27. Greg Tingey says:

    Taking things in order, and trying not to mention “Quaint-Arse” as they used to be called …

    John Bull
    The multinational I used to work for was KOdak, and they got everyone on board for cultural change, we had all the manuals, the filmed clips from W. Edwars Deming , and TQC, the works …
    Then management blew it, by emphasising that it only applied to the proles.
    Very clever!

    Anon @ 6.20
    LURVE your quantas spoof!
    You are so correct about the UndergrounD being an anti-job – it’s when it all goes tits-up that sorts those who can do from the bullshit-merchants.
    Your scenario of “person under train” is all to apt.
    Typical modern so-called business school management, who erm, “think” striving for 100% efficiency with no slack is the way to go.
    Works very well until you get 105% load, and something breaks.
    Classic example was the Japanese just-in-time system – until Fukushima/tsunami hit – oops.
    Wellington’s remark about making harnesses of knotted rope might be pertinent here.
    ( “If anything breaks, I tie a knot, and carry on”)

    LU Mole [A]
    I tend to agree.
    Crow has learnt from the bankers (or something) but, fewer staff, doing more varied and higher-trained work, plus dealing with emergencies automatically means higher pay. for fewer people.
    I reiterate Crow only gets away with it, because of LU’s management style.
    So LU management, and their style will also have to change, or none of this will work.

    LU Mole [B} Yes – but it is also plain that they (platform staff) are terrified of management action if they don’t do EXACTLY as they are told, like good little automata.
    They are not paid to think, they’re opinions are not wanted, and they are just there to follow orders.
    How NOT to organise, motivate and run a modern highly technical and complex business.
    Agree entirely about Germany.

  28. ASLEF shrugged says:

    Greg Tingey – In the ten years Bob Crow has been Gen Sec RMT’s membership has increased from around 54000 to over 80000, as LUL only have around 17000 employees that would suggest that he has been successful in other areas of transport.

    Anonymous 02:12pm – moving from one station to another is more to do with the fire regs that came in after the King’s Cross fire rather than anything RMT concocted.

  29. k smith says:

    For those who like facts rather than untruths. QANTAS standards for Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Ltd. Getting your facts right helps when trying to make a valid point.

  30. JamesBass says:

    @Anon 1.49

    The current climate of public sector bashing is extremely unhelpful. The argument that because you are working many hours for no pay and therefore everyone else should, is simply unfair. People should be paid for hours worked- simple as!

    It’s very much like the current arguments around public sector pensions vs. private sector pensions. Just because unscrupulous and greedy private companies have sold out their employees in the never-ending search for increased profits, never mind the human cost, does not mean that the public sector should follow suit.

    I do however tend to agree that a plague should be cast upon the houses of both LUL and RMT. Poor industrial relations over such a long period clearly demonstrate the intransigence and pig-headedness of both parties.

  31. trundlefast says:

    Madrid, still almost entirely lacking smartcard technology on transport, let alone anything as bold as wave and pay, has been converting metro station ticket areas to something like the model outlined above for the last few years. Staff numbers seem generally consistent – as everyone’s a public servant they have a job for life anyway. It probably helps that there are only about three distinctly different ticket types, mind.

  32. Anonymous says:

    Jeremy: Incorrect. Over the last year ticket barriers have been installed ON the platform level at the top of the stairwells at Finsbury Park.

    I’m not really talking about my personal convenience, yes sometimes I get on a national rail train at Highbury and Islington. That’s not the point. The point is they need a member of staff sitting there at the new ticket barrier to let me through because the ticket barrier does not accept my ticket! That’s ridiculous!

  33. EW says:

    Can I make a polite request?

    You have all taken some of your precious time to read this detailed article so you obviously have a passion for transport in London. So in that light, can you please leave out the predictable prejudiced management, employee and union bashing and keep comments on this focused on the actual article which is about the impact that the Discussion Paper will have on the Underground.

    If you must make such comments may I suggest you go to the Guardian, Telegraph, Mail, Sun which make their profits from exploiting such prejudices.

    The writers who wrote this article are a league above the mainstream press (despite the BRD error 🙂 ) and deserve a better league of comment.

  34. Greg Tingey says:

    Except, EW, that, as another poster has pointed out.
    The appalling record of mutual intransigence at LUL is indicative of something.
    I will cheerfully blame both parties.
    As an ex-TGWU shop steward, I loathe Crow’s politicisation of his position, and simultaneously loathe LUL’s bullying of both their workforce, and their paying customers.
    A pox on all their houses.
    There, is that clear enough?

  35. swirlythingy says:

    I make that 16 combined occurrences of the phrases “sources suggest” and “sources indicate” in a 3,295 word article – approximately 1% of all words. Interestingly, somewhere around “The future of ticket offices” you apparently made a conscious decision to switch from writing “indicate” to writing “suggest” – the first occurrence of the latter is four paragraphs before the last of the former.

  36. Mwmbwls says:

    Swirlythingy – Well spotted.Please bear in mind that within the inner nerd of John Bull, myself, George, Lemmo and Pedantic, there lurks the heart of a rumager – a snapper up of unconsidered trifles. There were a number of sources for our comments. Extracts from the leaked document as put into play by the RMT, the meeting of the London Assembly Transport Committee reviewing the plans for ticketless travel and general observations and reports made during past TfL Board Meeting webcasts and in board papers. Most of the ideas in the paper have been in the public domain for some time but not in the public spotlight. Where we have, what I suppose journalists like to call “a smoking gun”, in the form of a pdf locked away for the lifetime of our computer I tend to use the term “indicate” and where I have to rely on notes of a webcast that will disappear after six months I tend to go for “suggest”. Verbal answers inevitably are given from the perspective of the person making the response and are to some extent thought improvisation which may or may may not be what turns out to be strict policy so a nuanced turn of phrase is sometimes called for. I think it was the film magnate Jack Warner who said that, ” a verbal contract is not worth the paper it is written on” – we try, as house policy, not to flavour articles with our own opinions but do try to provide reasoned analysis. When we speculate we label our thoughts as such – that way when we do an op-ed we hope we get noticed.

  37. Lemmo says:

    Very well put Mwmbwls, perhaps John Bull should weave this into the writing style guide, and also ‘Why we Write’.

    On the subject of industrial relations, and the lessons we can learn from the Qantas dispute, there’s a rich discussion we can have while steering a wide berth of polarised incandescence.

    The piece is about strategy and ‘the shape of things to come’. We should be asking: what does a resilient and adaptable underground network fit for 21st century challenges look like? Within this we need to ask: what value are we creating, and what does mean in terms of organisational culture and the capabilities we need to build across the workforce. This is taking a strategic foresight approach and provides verdant territory for a creative and forward-looking conversation…

    On Qantas, and speaking with my Australian hat on nervously wondering whether another wildcat strike or grounding will scupper our imminent trip there, I recommend New Matilda, The Conversation and Inside Story. Along with Crikey, these give a much deeper insight from Oz that we may miss over here. From that perhaps we can draw some parallels and identify some lessons for LUL and it’s nascent strategy…

  38. Anonymous says:

    It is mentioned in the article that banked rest days started in 2005. This is incorrect I started working for LUL in 1989 and I earned banked rest days then. Also mentioned was the idea of station supervisors covering a group of stations and travelling from one station to the next. again this is nothing new. In 1989 just as I started and was training at RTC we were told that the process known as “Action Stations” had been thrown out. This plan included that option of travelling supervisors travelling between station.

  39. John Bull says:

    @Swirlythingy – well spotted. As Mwmbwls says, in our mental categorisation of information there is a slight difference between the two. It’s more an occasional indicator for the eagle-eyed as to the type of source rather than its accuracy though (basically if it wasn’t accurate and checked it wouldn’t be in here – or would be indicated as of less reliability).

    @Anonymous – my understanding is that the current banked rest day arrangements date to 2006, although as you mention there have been banked rest days before then (but with different T&Cs etc). If that’s wrong though, I’ll happily correct.

    Anyway, for those interested, Part 2 will be online shortly.

  40. Jeremy says:

    @Anonymous: That is really, really daft. And fairly new – I clearly haven’t been to Finsbury Park in too long.

  41. Anonymous me says:

    I can’t remember exactly when BRDs came into use for the train grade, but it was at some point after Company Plan came in in 1991/1992 (?). Under CP all drivers had to sign new contracts with a wide ranging change of T&Cs. I can’t remember the exact timing, but at some point the hours were gradually reduced to the current actual 35 hour week. A lot of that reduction was taken as an effective pay cut (each years’s pay rise was reduced by X% which was equivalent to the reduction in the working week).

    However it suited management to keep the duty lemgths as they were, rather than having to redo them etc. and so staff carried on working the same amount of time and the unpaid work each week was accumulated. This also suited staff, especially as more drivers travelled much further to work than they used to, as they wouldn’t have noticed an average drop of 12 minutes working a day. Having the unpaid time accumulated as BRDs meant that having the time off as whole days was better all round. For a long time, for drivers, this worked out at 12 days a year, but was later reduced to 6 days when arrangements were changed.

    The current arrangements of drivers working a 36 hour week (with one hour going towards a BRD) would also suit a four day week, with staff working a nine hour day..Again, this would be especially helpful for those who have to travel long distances to work as they would only have to travel for four days instead of five, yet would still be working the same amount of hours per week. I’m sure that a four day week would also be of benefit to LU, on the train side anyway.

    In the long term, with the inevitable downgrade of the driver’s role to Train Captain or whatever, I can see that there is more likely to be a multifunctional grade that can cover almost any job, whether it’s stations one day or Train Captain the next. This would certainly give LU more staffing flexibility.

  42. Anonymous says:

    LU Mole, I’ll try to remember that my train will drive itself tomorrow when I decide not to operate the controls and see if it moves or stops. Also since apparently I’ve got less responsibility than my forebears in the role, I won’t worry about checking and reacting to signals, poor rail adhesion and speed restrictions. Also if there is a external event of some kind I won’t have to be the one who gets a line block, checks that the body under the wheels isn’t still alive or has to deal with angry passengers.

  43. Fandroid says:

    A bit peripheral to the article, but it’s worth noting that that RMT provides the one stable force for the general National Rail person in a world that brings big changes at the workplace every time a franchise is renewed. (with all the inevitable personal stresses that an uncertain future always brings). That is not just my opinion, but one of the Operating Company Chief Execs has said the same thing. That alone would help RMT to keep on recruiting. Also, Uncle Bob has found that his OTT style works for his members, so why stop now?

    It would take some really superb management to get the staff onto their side. Only a really charismatic leader parachuted into Tfl could do it. And it wouldn’t work for two minutes unless he laid into his management team as his first action! My feeling is that these proposals cannot be achieved with the current union/Tfl relationship in place. They will either crawl off into the long grass, or they will cost a small fortune in pay-offs for staff conceding some of what they already have.

    However, I do agree with James Bass. Public sector pay and hours are not a sign of privilege, they are what everyone should get for a good days work.

  44. Greg Tingey says:

    A name, two words:

    Gerry Feinnes

  45. Peter says:

    This section is incorrect:

    Indeed the Paper apparently asserts that of the approximately 150m ticket window transactions each year, only 5% now actually involve ticket sales. Instead, the vast majority of face-to-face transactions are now either issue resolution or refunds, or – crucially – sales of the physical Oyster Card itself.

    What the document days is that 5% of journeys start with a ticker office transaction. However many of these may be a weekly, or monthly ticket for example. Of those sales 95% are ticket sales, the other 5% are refunds.

    It should be noted that only ticket sales are recorded, there isn’t a recording of all the times a ticket office worker is asked questions, such as directions and so forth so when Hendy said it was a good place to read a novel, he was using sales figures though LU have no statistics on how long ticket office staff deal with other issues.

    Also as customers use machines more, customers that go to the window often have ‘bigger’ problems i.e the transactions now take linger to deal with – or perhaps it is an elderly person or person with a disability that means they can’t use the machine and often take longer and need additional help in selling a ticket, So where a few years ago there may have been (as an example – not a realistic figure) 100 sales taking an average 1 minute each, there could now be 25 sales taking an average 4 minutes each. When the proposals to cut ticket offices came about previously, the RMT disputed the average times given, and proved it to be the case that average sales times had increased for the above reasons.

    It should also be noted that there hasn’t been a level playing field under which ticker offices have closed. LU hasn’t had ticket windows open at the same number or for the same length of time for the last 5 years and said there been a natural x% drop in sales. Rather ticket offices have been open less hours, with less windows available and customers have been pushed towards using the machine. Other LU tactics have including not allowing customers to top up less than £5 on an oyster card at the ticket window.

    So yes there has been a reduction in sales, but it has been forced very much by LU policy and as the average ticket sale time at a window has increased the effect is not on the scale that LU figures suggest.

    Regarding moving staff from the ticket office to the gate line, the reality is that LU can already do this should they wish. Ticket office staff are ‘Station Assistant Multi-Functionals’ ie they can sell tickets or work in the ticket hall. The reason LU don’t do it is because their numbers have been cut so harshly that it is rarely possible.

    One of LU’s recent procedure changes is for when a trains CCTV (which allows the train operator to see the entire platform from monitors in he cab) has failed. The procedure used to be that a station assistant would stand on the platform and when they could see that the doors were safely closed with nobody trapped give the driver a signal to depart, and remain on the platform until the entire train had left. Now LU wants the driver to despatch the platform ‘blind’ should CCTV fail. This has been done to ‘improve the service’, the problem being that often there aren’t enough staff on the station to perform this operation. If LU plans to have more staff on stations, why cut safety procedures that require staff?

  46. Greg Tingey says:

    Isnt this, previous quote; One of LU’s recent procedure changes is for when a trains CCTV (which allows the train operator to see the entire platform from monitors in he cab) has failed. The procedure used to be that a station assistant would stand on the platform and when they could see that the doors were safely closed with nobody trapped give the driver a signal to depart, and remain on the platform until the entire train had left. Now LU wants the driver to despatch the platform ‘blind’ should CCTV fail. This has been done to ‘improve the service’, the problem being that often there aren’t enough staff on the station to perform this operation. If LU plans to have more staff on stations, why cut safety procedures that require staff?
    Against everything in the “Rule Book” and commonsense Raliway safety, anyway?

  47. Peter says:

    @greg I’m not sure if you’re saying ‘aghhh’ because you think the point I make is incorrect or because you disagree with the new procedure.

    To clarify – the new ‘Operational Procedure Notice 101’ is what I describe above. An OSN overrules the rulebook.

  48. Greg Tingey says:

    I disagree with the new procedure.
    I’m suprised the ORR and RAIB haven’t gone apeshit over it.

  49. Anonymous says:

    The four comments above are not quite correct.

    The ‘self dispatch’ procedure has the driver going back to a position in the train where he can see the whole length of the train to check no-one is in the doors. After this check he goes to the cab and shuts the doors. Once doors are all shut he then goes back to the location (presumably getting out via his cab door) where he can see the whole length to check no-one is trapped, all doors are shut and the whole train is clear then returns to the cab and drives out.

    The procedure is about reducing the risks to ‘As Low As Reasonably Practical’. This procedure can only be used for the FIRST train that encounters the problem and if it continues the following trains will not stop. The procedure is based on the Bakerloo line version that has been in use on Network Rail and previously Railtrack for years.

  50. Peter says:

    @anonymous – no, it’s not. The procedure is that if you can see the platform from your cab (it used to be from your seated position) you can depart. The reason monitors work the whole way out of a platform is as there is a risk of smeone running for a departing train and slipping beneath it. I’ll get a copy of OSN 101 and do a copy and paste to clarify.

  51. Anonymous says:

    Actually, i can’t edit my previous post, but I think what Anonymous is talking about is the procedure for a underground train to lose CCTV on an unstaffed (or unwilling to give staff to LU) national rail station. – On the Central line this would once have applied at Stratford.

  52. Anonymous says:

    @peter, sorry my fault I am confusing the two things as I understood that OSN101 was going to adopt self dispatch across the company. You are talking about the platform re-categorisation where previously some rated as A (cannot be seen from normal driving position) changed to B if the whole length can be seen from the cab, but not necessarily from the normal seat. I see it as common sense myself, bearing in mind its about getting the risk ALARP during a failure not about normal working.

    Your comment about monitors is interesting, what about the rest who do not have the benefit of in-cab CCTV? We only have time for a brief look as the train pulls out at fixed monitors on the platform. So it is not much of a change to getting up from the seat, looking down the platform, closing doors, checking the platform again, going back to the seat and departing.

    To be fair to them stations work hard to provide the staff when needed.

  53. Anonymous says:

    The recategorisation is OSN 101.

  54. Anonymous says:

    Unmanned stations are nothing new. I left the underground over 10 years ago because I would come in at 07:00 and find the station unmanned and have to collect the office keys from the next station and at 15:00 nobody would take me off and I would take the keys back to the next station leaving the station unmanned. If a station had no points they were often left unmmanned. If I had offerred to do the next shift 15:00 to 23:00 as overtime then I would have been entitled to 12 hours off and not come in for my next shift at 11:00 being paid 8 hours for 4 hours work. Many staff volunteered for this as they knew they would work short hours the following day.

    Ticket machines at station still have to be serviced as they soon run out of ticket paper or the coin vault fills up and the machine closes down.

  55. Anonymous says:

    When is part 3?

    BTW, the far future for 100% remote operation would probably be never.

  56. John Bull says:

    Just finished writing it.

    It’ll now sit to mature overnight and then go up tomorrow morning. We always find its best to leave the long posts to stew for a few hours and then return to them. It’s surprising how many errors/potentially unclear paragraphs you spot that way.

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