The role of the railway guard has been in the news recently due to various industrial disputes in London and beyond. With debate set to continue over the role in the coming months, this seems an appropriate time to look at the role of the railway guard and its relevance today.

As is often the case in industrial disputes and public concerns, various issues get muddled together. In the case of dispensing with the guard there are two issues at stake. One is the seemingly trivial issue of whether the driver or the guard (also known as the conductor) should be responsible for closing the doors and the other is to what extent is it acceptable for the driver to be the only member of staff aboard a train during public operation.

The original need for a guard

During the early years of railway operations, regulations required trains to have a guard. This was primarily in case the train became separated, which was a very real possibility. The consequence of having a portion of the train “running away” without anyone to apply the emergency brake could be very serious indeed.

A secondary reason for having a guard was that, in the event of accident or derailment which blocked the line in both directions, it would be possible for the driver to protect the train from collision at the front whilst the guard protected the train from the rear. This would be done by placing detonator caps on the track to warn other trains of danger. In the days before bright colour light signals and track circuits the application of detonators was really the only way that a train could be fully protected. It was all too easy for the driver to miss a paraffin-lit semaphore signal in the dark, especially if the train was pulled by a steam engine.

Nowadays axle counters are sometimes used instead of track circuits but in these days of instant communication with the signal box or control centre the need to get out on the track to protect the train has all but disappeared.

Driver Only Operation is nothing new

It follows from the above that so long a train consists of more than one vehicle (of which the engine counts as one, as does each carriage or wagon) it must have a guard. In the distant past, realistically the only possible train that could have run without one would have been composed of a single carriage (almost certainly electrically powered). Semantic purists of the day could have argued that this would not be a train as the term originally meant a train of carriages, but we will let that pass.

The issue of train protection also meant that it would be unlikely that Driver Only Operation (DOO) would be permitted then on anything other than continuous track circuited routes or single track lines with “one train working” or “one engine in steam” as it used to be called – even if the propulsive power was provided by something other than steam.

tearunThe South Acton shuttle or “the tea run”

As a result of all the above in the past examples of Driver Only Operation were few and far between. In fact, the only known example was the famous “Tea Run” on the District Line. This was a shuttle between Acton Town and South Acton, something we covered in an article on Driverless Trains and the Underground. The driver could put the kettle on the stove and do a round trip in the time it took the water to boil for his tea.

A snail in a ginger beer bottle

Whilst railways in the past saw it as their duty to transport their passengers safely (in part thanks to a trip that a certain Mrs Donoghue took to Paisley in 1928), a lot of onus was still on the passenger. Passengers were not supposed to open train doors whilst the train was in motion and if they did, and they were injured, then it was basically their fault. It was less clear, however, who was liable if an innocent passenger, possibly on the platform, was also injured as a result. Similarly, it was up to the passenger not to get off the train if there was no platform for him to step onto, and at the time the nearest one would get to an announcement of a short platform would be a possible mention at the station at which the passenger boarded the train (if it had a public address system), or by the guard if he happened to check the ticket and thought to mention it.

Despite the onus on passenger safety still largely being the responsibility of the passenger, up until the 1960s it was still largely unthinkable that trains would operate without a guard. Railway regulations required a guard, the technology needed to even consider removing the guard just did not exist and the notion of a duty of care made the idea of getting rid of the guard a legal nightmare if something went wrong. In addition, if you are going to have a guard who can alight onto the platform to check that it is safe to depart, you might as well have him giving the “right away” and opening and closing the doors if powered doors are used.

Little emphasis on passenger safety

The start of the video below excellently illustrates the rather lackadaisical approach to safety on the Underground when it came to what is now rather grandly termed “the platform train interface”.

Guard operating Underground doors in 1990

There is no line for passengers to stand behind. The platform has a severe curvature. The guard does not make use of the complete width of the platform to establish that passengers are clear of the doors at the front of the train. Worse, and most unforgivable of all, there are monitors provided so that he can do his job properly but he can’t even be bothered to look at them. Note also the rather half-hearted glance to the rear after the doors have closed.

As further food for thought, this is at the platform which, for historical reasons, has the worst curvature on the entire line. If there was a platform that required diligent operation then this was it. Also note, in possible contrast to today, that there were no platform staff present to confirm that it was safe to depart and, even if there had have been, their appearance would not have been distinctive. A rather nebulous wave of the hand would also have been considered sufficient as an indication that the train could now proceed.

The Victoria line

The introduction of a single “Train Operator” on the Victoria line when it opened signalled that start of a revolution. Note that the term “Driver Only Operation” was not used because the train operator of the automatic train was not really considered to be a driver. Although he sat in the conventional driver’s position, his primary role was to open and shut the passenger doors. In a way this pioneering line did not so much get rid of the guard as get rid of the driver and put the guard in his seat.

At the time, the Victoria line was very much a one off with unique attributes. It was entirely underground except for the depot and so, supposedly without the disadvantage of rain, the trains could stop fairly accurately in the stations. In fact they made the platforms extra long to cater for the limitations of the day but, even then, “driver” intervention was sometime required.

The Victoria line also had a new form of cab-to-control communication which no other line – above or below ground – had. This supposedly enabled communication on the move at all times (although this was found not to entirely live up to this specified requirement).

More crucially, the platforms were entirely straight (or exceptionally very nearly so), which was pretty vital given the poor resolution and clarity provided by the black and white cathode ray platform monitors that the operator had to assist him with platform dispatch duties.

Other lines follow slowly

With British Rail still largely operating slam-door stock and the large capital investment required to change that, it was clear that it was only really London Underground who were likely to follow the pioneering Victoria line and have a single member of staff aboard their trains. The term “Driver Only Operation” (DOO) soon became seen as something that could be more accurately applied to other lines, where the one member of staff on board would be responsible for both driving the train and operating the doors. Eventually the term was used regardless of whether the train was manually or automatically driven.

It took quite a few years for the other lines to follow the Victoria line though. Availability of continuous on-the-move communication was eventually provided using the “leaky feeder” cable method and indeed the Victoria line was eventually retro-fitted with this as well. Trains were modified or new stock, fitted out for DOO, was introduced. Colour monitors started making an appearance and indeed the number of monitors provided increased – especially when curved platforms were involved.

Whilst the introduction of DOO on the Underground certainly led to disputes, it was not as traumatic for staff as it might have been. With depots fairly close to each other there was a lot of opportunity to avoid redundancies by transferring staff to another line if staff wished to, or even to retrain as a driver. This allowed natural wastage to account for the reduction in numbers required. Of course, this does not work for the final line to move over to DOO, which was the Northern line, but at least it was clear for many years what was slowly and inevitably happening as as new rolling stock was procured.

A superior method of monitoring the doors

With London Underground appreciating how critical it was to ensure doors closed safely, they looked around for something rather better than platform monitors or, its cruder companion, mirrors. The fairly obvious answer was to position the monitors in the cab. With modern electronics quite capable of transmitting multiple colour video streams to the driver’s cab this proved quite feasible. The later development of LCD displays improved the situation further in terms of clarity of image, ease of maintenance and finding space to locate them in the drivers cab.

A bonus for London Underground was that once in-cab monitors were universally installed the platform monitors could be removed. At some platforms this meant it was possible to eliminate Selective Door Operation (SDO). Expect to see some District line stations have SDO removed once the last of the D78 stock disappears.

For London Underground, putting the door monitoring panels in the cab was an ideal solution. It placed the monitors in the best position possible for the driver whilst the cameras could be located in the most appropriate positions for the platform. It also meant that the driver was in an enclosed environment, undisturbed by passengers.

As well as improvements on the train, at certain platforms on the Underground, the driver is given a “right away” signal by clearly identifiable platform staff, either by a fixed white light on the platform or by the station assistant’s “wand” being illuminated with a circle of white LED lights. Accident reports show that the arrangement is not foolproof, but it is pretty much as good as it can get (short of installing platform edge doors). A very similar practice is in operation at various Network Rail stations, with the platform staff communicating with the guard instead – if one is present.

Very significantly, for Crossrail, for which second best is never acceptable, operating with in-cab monitors combined with platform-mounted cameras has been adopted for overground stations. This has been done even though it required negotiating with Network Rail to adopt something that was, for them, completely new.

British Rail joins in

For various reasons, it was going to be less easy to introduce DOO on British Rail. A chance presented itself with the Bedford – St Pancras (BedPan) electrification scheme. A dispute over introduction of the scheme, which was eventually resolved, meant that by the time DOO was fully introduced it was proposed that this route would become part of the present day Thameslink scheme.

Operation on Thameslink was to be similar to that at the time on London Underground. One small difference was the use of multiple directional aerials in the running tunnels rather than a leaky feeder cable. Given the reluctance to invest in the railways at the time, it may well be the case that DOO helped convince the government of the day that the investment was worthwhile.

Unlike London Underground, the opportunities for guards to conveniently transfer to another depot when the new Thameslink trains were introduced were sometimes limited. Redundancies were eventually avoided by agreeing to have former guards carry out on-board revenue collection duty until natural wastage resolved the problem. To the surprise of nobody except, it seems, the railway managers, it was said that the increase in revenue brought about by ticket checks meant that the continued employment of the displaced guards could be justified on financial grounds for a considerable period of time.

For many years after this DOO was brought into use in the London area and beyond with relatively little difficulty. Notable have been Chiltern Railways and c2c which are both almost exclusively DOO. An exception has been on the former South Western division of British Rail (now South West Trains) where the unions have absolutely refused to accept DOO and to this day every single South West Trains service has a guard present. Notoriously, platform monitors for the drivers were installed (and eventually removed) all over the South West Trains suburban area and not a single one of them had seen beneficial use.

In a rather amusing postscript, some of the original Thameslink trains, the class 319, now nearly 30 years old, have gone up north to run on the Northern Electric routes and one of the modifications needed was to fit guard controls for the doors. This was a sensible and pragmatic arrangement given the lack of platform monitor screens in that part of the world and with many stations unstaffed for part or all of the day.

DOO gets better

By 2003 Southern were running DOO with train mounted cameras rather than relying on mirrors or platform monitors. What is surprising is that this did not appear to be a game changer. New trains from then on were fitted with the technology, but there appeared to be no great rush to get rid of either the platform mounted equipment or the practice of the guard closing the doors on existing services operated with the new trains.

In 2009 SouthEastern introduced the new class 395 (“Javelin”) on HS1. From the outset they had train managers not guards – a subtle but important difference.

Whilst the use of train mounted cameras was an evolutionary development, it was London Overground that seemed to fully embrace the idea when it replaced the rolling stock on all its existing electrified routes and relied on the train mounted cameras and driver’s in-cab monitors.

Train mounted cameraOne of many train mounted cameras for monitoring doors.

The train mounted cameras, combined with the on-board monitors, have very obvious advantages when it comes to setting up appropriate infrastructure and maintenance. Less obvious is the surprisingly good image generally obtained. On Network Rail it is often not easy to position platform cameras in a good position. This is due to various factors, such as overhead lines and canopies and the lack of a roof or bored tunnel to mount the camera on.

A further advantage of the monitors being in the cab is that they are largely, but not entirely, unaffected by sunlight, which can strike the platform based monitors at the wrong angle and make them temporarily unusable.

Surrey Quays SouthboundSouthbound at Surrey Quays with not a mirror or platform monitor in sight

London Overground does it controversially

With the enormous cost of providing guards on frequent rail services, it is not surprising that TfL pushed for the elimination of guards on all trains they operate – either directly or indirectly via the Train Operating Company running their services. It is an easy way, indeed possibly the easiest, to save money with very little adverse effect on the travelling public. Indeed, it can even have a positive effect as trains are no longer cancelled for lack of a guard.

As with the Underground, this can be relatively painless until you get to the last line to be converted to DOO. For London Overground, this was the Gospel Oak – Barking line. With no alternative depot to post them to, various guards were given redundancy notices. Those affected are, of course, free to apply to another company but with only South West Trains (main suburban depot Wimbledon) having a substantial number of guards posts it effectively means that those made redundant have to take retirement, get a different job or move to another part of London or elsewhere in the country.

What makes the elimination of guards on the busy two car diesel trains that operate on the Gospel Oak – Barking line (Goblin) interesting and relevant to today is that the RMT under its then leader Bob Crow, claimed that this was detrimental to public safety. TfL countered by saying, on the contrary:

On the East London Line, which uses driver only operation, the rate of door incidents is one for every 7 million passengers. This compares to the section of the network which currently uses conductors, where the rate of door incidents is one for every 4 million passengers.

Then and, as we shall see now, RMT spokesmen often repeat this general principle of safety but always with rather nebulous statements rather than specific examples, facts or figures. The linked press report quotes another RMT spokesman as stating:

RMT are going to resist this because we are determined to keep the railway safe. Fundamentally we believe all trains should be guarded by a human being. Opening and closing doors is part of what they do but not the main part – you can’t run a railway safely without people.

There are no doubt some people who would respond to the last statement with “actually you can” and others who would even go as far to suggest it is the human intervention that causes safety incidents. More plausibly, one could argue that if one was genuinely concerned about safety then employing guards is one of the least effective ways of achieving it and the money would be much better spent on ensuring platforms are level, at the correct height with appropriate lighting and sloping away from the track. Or, to really improve safety, the money could be spent on platform edge doors or automatic train operation.

The ticking time bomb

What seems to have taken a lot of people, including various union leaders, completely by surprise is that stock ordered by the DfT (such as Thameslink stock and the Hitachi InterCity Express) has been ordered without the provision for the guard to close the doors. Furthermore various tenders for franchise clearly specified DOO in them.

Biggest of all is the Thameslink franchise incorporating Southern, Gatwick Express, Great Northern and, of course, Thameslink. With Thameslink services due to take over various routes currently operated with a guard it is clear that fewer will soon be required. Furthermore you potentially have routes where some trains are Thameslink trains operated by just a driver and other trains (possibly shorter) are operated by a driver and a guard, but the trains themselves are suitable for DOO without modification.

An extraordinary outburst

In February 2016 there was an extraordinary outburst against the rail unions by Peter Wilkinson, a senior DfT official, at a meeting in Croydon. Very inflammatory and largely inaccurate, it was not what one would expect from an MP let alone a civil servant. It is hard to see how anything positive was achieved by it.

To add insult to injury one could ask why the one bit that was true (“drivers not required to work on Sundays”) was not rectified by the DfT when it wrote the tender for the franchise. A Train Operating Company guaranteed only a relatively short franchise is unlikely to try and change conditions of service without an incentive to do so, bearing in mind the grief it can cause. Indeed, one could argue that the person who should have sorted this out and got it specified in the franchise was one… Peter Wilkinson, director of Rail Passenger Services at the DfT.

Not surprisingly, Peter Wilkinson has seemingly been banned from talking in public. This is a pity because it means that the DfT now has a policy that cannot be explained by the person making it. It should be noted that, this outburst apart, Peter Wilkinson is well-respected by some in the industry for his determination to modernise the railways for the benefit of all. Indeed in an excellent article in the June 2016 edition of Modern Railways there is the suggestion that, in the light of subsequent events, Mr Wilkinson’s speech was

… far from the ill-considered outburst that we assumed at the time. Mr Wilkinson was merely articulating official government policy.

The Gatwick Express Saga

In the wake of the outburst it was clear that rail union ASLEF were left with the moral high-ground. A ridiculous speech, much circulated and known about within the industry, showed the DfT having a ridiculous paranoia. One would have expected ASLEF to milk this but what happened On April 9th was extraordinary.

At 0530 at morning a driver refused to drive a 12-car class 387 Gatwick Express train from Victoria to Gatwick Airport with passengers on board if it did not have a guard. The 30 passengers could not travel on the service and the train departed to Gatwick empty.

The driver’s argument was that there was no agreement for DOO on the 12-car Gatwick Express. However the train consisted of 12 carriages that were nominally 20 metres long whereas the train it replaced had 10 carriages of 23m nominal length and ASLEF had agreed to drive them under DOO conditions. There was some suggestion that the extension of DOO to 10 carriages was only a concession to allow lengthening of suburban trains, but this really doesn’t fit in with the facts. To add to the absurdity, ASLEF drivers were driving near identical 12-car 387 stock (but Thameslink liveried) on the Thameslink route and have driven Southern 12-car trains to places like Horsham and Brighton under DOO before when no guard has been available. It was almost as if the ASLEF member wouldn’t drive the train because it was the wrong colour (red not green).

In a move that was to set the tone for a future dispute with conductors, the railway company, Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) went to court and obtained an injunction to prevent ASLEF inducing drivers not to drive Gatwick Express trains. Specifically the courts could not accept that there were safety grounds for this and any claim it was for safety reasons had to be seen as a ruse.

The absurdity of this dispute suggests that maybe Peter Wilkinson’s outburst was not so unreasonable, even if still tactically rather inept, and that the above comment in Modern Railways was not so tongue-in-cheek as one would imagine.

The conductors join in

Clearly, with the DfT specifying DOO for all future Thameslink services, GTR was going to have to do something now that the rolling stock in question, fixed formation class 700 stock, was due to enter service. It was clear fewer guards would be needed.

What followed was something very similar to “Fit for the Future” which was London Underground’s plan to get rid of ticket offices. Both sides made statements that were true but misleading. It was clear that one of the objectives was to reduce head count but it was emphasised by Southern that everyone who wanted a job would have one (but by implication not the same job). Slightly more difficult to reconcile was Southern’s statement that it wasn’t their aim to remove staff from trains, with their argument that not having the guard operate the doors means that they no longer needed to cancel a train if a guard is not available. It is clear they expect most guards to redeploy to a revenue based role (and get a smaller percentage of the ticket sale in the process) which, arguably, changes the nature of the role. However, it is long established in employment law that one can be reasonably be expected to “move with the times” particularly as technology improves and one can imagine many people thinking “we have to adapt, why should they be so different?”

For their part, the unions seem to only talk about safety but seem only able, at best, to provide not very convincing anecdotal evidence for retention of guards on this ground. This has meant that Southern have spotted an opportunity to make their case.

Video showing clarity of image on monitors in driving cab

Southern’s belated efforts at explaining the issues from their perspective include the above video which shows just how good a view the driver has when closing the doors.

Meanwhile, as previously mentioned, Modern Railways covered the issue with an article on the subject which looked at the implications for the whole country not just for London. It too sees the sticky hands of the DfT all over this and makes the point that the GTR franchise is not a normal franchise where the train operating company has to pay for any loss of revenue out of its own pocket.

The Modern Railway’s article is probably the only conciliatory viewpoint that has been expressed. They have managed to put a far more rational case for looking into various issues of concern than the unions have and on the safety issue they suggest that the Rail Accident Investigation Board, the Railway Standards and Safety Board and the Office of Road and Rail should take a lead in declaring the safety benefits of having, or not having, the guards close the door and a second person being present. Whether these organisations wish to get involved in this is another matter.

Hurst Green guards monitorsGuards monitors at Hurst Green northbound platform. The trains on this route that start from East Grinstead all have cameras fitted and a full set of monitors for door operation situated in the drivers cab.

Who is behind all this?

To bluntly rephrase what Modern Railways asserts, by collecting the revenue and paying the TOC to provide the service, the DfT is effectively bankrolling the effects of this dispute and so enabling GTR to resist any financial pressure from the unions to settle. One can understand this. They feel there is no excuse for the railway not being efficient. There is also an ideological aspect to this. Some parts of the railway are within a hair’s breadth of being profitable even if not to the extent of being a worthwhile investment. This is taking into account all costs, including Network Rail’s real costs – not the notional track access charges which may not relate to costs and are probably too low.

A Conservative government would really like to see at least part of the railway being a genuine going concern. Of course, Eurostar would argue that they are already such an example, but that is an exceptional situation. It may well be that reducing the need for guards is enough to tip various franchises into sufficient profit for them to be considered a worthwhile investment without a subsidy.

There is another reason why there is probably a strong determination from the DfT to fight this out. A lot of the cost of running a train is the cost of crewing it. Fairly obviously, if one can reduce the crew size from two to one then a big saving can be made. This totally changes the economics of running a frequent off-peak service and, with many routes really being glorified London outer-suburban services (for example London to Oxford, Cambridge and various places in Kent and along the South Coast), it would be very helpful if the service wasn’t tied down by having to have a second crew member on all trains for the entire length of the journey. Which is better? A half hourly off-peak service with a guard at all times or a quarter hourly service with an on-board member of staff present some of the time?

And now…

At the time of writing there are currently no more strikes on the issue of removing guards from trains, but feelings are clearly running high. Visits to the High Court certainly seem to be happening with more frequency than one would expect. Clearly the passenger is unwittingly stuck in the middle of this. When the European referendum has been settled, those who like impassioned arguments devoid of established facts from either side will be able repeat the experience by attempting to follow the guards dispute on the railways.

Thanks to Graham Feakins and ngh for background information and to LT museum for use of the South Acton shuttle photo.

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There are 837 comments on this article
  1. Phil says:

    This issue is way bigger than GTR

    While it is outside the LRs remit, it is worth reminding readers that this issue is not confined to GTR. In Scotland the new electric trains procured for the currently being wired Edinburgh – Glasgow routes are only fitted for DOO operation – and as with GTR industrial action is expected from the unions. Looking further ahead Merseyrail have been mulling over getting new trains and the unions have already made it clear they will be taking action if the new designs are DOO, while there have also been rumblings about the recently let Northern and TransPennine Express franchises moving to DOO too for some services.

    Thus there is an awful lot riding on this GTR dispute – if GTR are sucessfull then the DfT will have ‘won’ and DOO will spread rapidly. If on the other hand GTR capitulate then it will put a massive obstacle in the way of the DfTs plans – which is precisely why the Government won’t let that happen . Getting rid of what they see as an outdated and expensive role (which, as has been demonstrated on GTR twice already has the ability to bring commuter networks to a stand through strike action) being a point of principle for many in Whitehall.

  2. machorne says:

    Four comments about this helpful article.

    First, in electric days we must not forget that another key job for guards on the London Underground was to act as emergency train drivers if the driver became ill. Without radios or any other modern technology, there was a real risk that a train full of passengers could stop in a tunnel and create an enormous problem, particularly in tube tunnels where getting help to an apparently stranded train would be a major problem if there were no guard. It was only with radios and, on the deep tube, additional technology and completely revised safety procedures, that OPO was possible.

    Second, there were some complications about Underground rolling stock types and platform lengths that meant the driver’s cabs were sometimes in the tunnel at stations making OPO nearly impossible at certain places because if the driver was in the platform nearly the whole of the rear cars would have been stopped in the tunnel . The tendency in the 1970s and later for longer cars and slightly shorter trains made the problem easier, especially on Northern and Piccadilly Lines. The Victoria Line of course had long platforms, as well as straight.

    Third, I’m interested that the question of main line trains perhaps having reduced run times has not been mentioned. I have recently timed a number of SW Trains and LM trains and am amazed that it can take 10-13 seconds even to get the doors open at stations and because the guard can only signal a train to pull away after his own door closes (painfully slowly) that adds another 8-10 seconds as well. This is 20 unproductive seconds at every station and in my view this is very unsatisfactory and appears to be caused only by the need to carry a guard. There is seemingly not much objective work on how long a train has to be before in someone’s opinion it must have a guard, but if we are to have guards we must find a way of getting rid of the extra dwell time – are we ready for the debate about having the doors unlock automatically at stations, or under driver control, which would deal with some of the delay?

    Finally there is the thorny area of revenue protection. I’d be very interested in knowing the practical effect guards have on revenue protection and general feeling of security on services where it is possible to get through the trains and where it is possible to measure these things. Getting rid of staff produces an apparent saving because it is instantly measurable, but these other factors both eventually impact on revenue but are far more subjective and harder to quantify. I’d be very interested in examining the evidence for longer term financial gains when the disadvantages of losing guards are also taken into account. Railway managers will grasp all this, I am sure, but I do wonder what the DfT is using for evidence.

  3. 100andthirty says:

    Whilst the article mentioned safety there is little in terms of statistics to make the argument one way or the other. I can’t speak for any other than LU, but for this operator, which has more experience of DOO than any other, I can say that the accident rate for accidents at the platform/train interface improved following the elimination of guards. This was solely about those incidents that a member of train crew could prevent or minimise the consequences.

    On the National Rail, I do believe there is sometimes a need for on-train staff, principally for help and revenue control. A far better bet than gates at principal station which can’t cope with the volume of people whose tickets don’t work them (bar codes, phones, hand written paper tickets, passes etc.). There may be other functions.

    On a point of pedancy, the first line with in cab CCTV, which was the Central line, did use CRT monitors. They were only converted to LCD later.
    [Thanks. I have modified the wording in light of this comment. PoP]

    Second point of pedancy. The 319s that moved to London Midland also needed the door controls. It is London Midland’s policy that the guard has to open his/her door, put a foot on the platform, confirm that the train is properly berthed and only then open the doors. This adds at least 5 sec to every stop. Roll on at least having the drivers open the doors.
    [Thanks. As I was merely giving an example I haven’t expanded the article to include this – interesting though it is. PoP]

  4. John Bull's Dog says:

    I thought the main reason trains needed guards in the early days of the railway was because there was no way for the driver to brake anything other than the engine (since there was no way to connect the carriages to the engine with a brake line). Hence the early trains had a brake van with a guard, who needed to apply the brake at the appropriate places (hence the need for route knowledge). The guards kept this role for freight surprisingly late since there are loose freight trains into the 1970s.

  5. Man of Kent says:

    Wasn’t BR’s first major attempt to introduce DOO with the original class 317s for what was then termed the Bedpan scheme? IIRC the units sat around unused for the best part of two years, though I am unclear whether they finally went into service with or without guards (no reliable source [i.e. not Wikipedia] at hand to check at the moment].

  6. ELLDriver says:

    What a great piece, just a small correction though. On the London Overground 378s (and other Electrostars), there is only one DOO camera on each side of each carriage. The opposite angle that you mention would be on the other side of the carriage and is useless for dispatch purposes. In the case of one being obscured by sunlight we still have to go the old fashioned way and get out and have a look with our own eyes.

    [Thank you. I have removed the offending sentence. PoP]

  7. Anonymous Pedant says:

    It’s also notable that the guard’s booth on the SWT Desiro stock takes up the space of at least two seats in each unit. That’s pretty frustrating when you’re on a crush loaded peak service and it’s empty because the guard is in the other unit or in one of the three unused cabs!

  8. Malcolm says:

    machorne claims, or implies, that a guard could have driven a tube train to the next station if the driver was incapacitated. By today’s standards, at least, this would only have been possible if guards were trained to do this and regularly practised it. Were they and did they? (On steam trains of course the fireman was and did).

  9. ngh says:

    Re Machorne,

    Point 3.
    Siemens 350/450 at LM and SWT have pneumatic doors which add circa 4s to the combined open and close sequences vs electric on Bombardier so having a guard isn’t responsible for it all. The newer desiros cities (700 701 707) all have electric actuation.

  10. quinlet says:

    Using a line with unstaffed stations, the conductor is essential for selling any tickets and assuring appropriate revenue protection. But the time between stations is only about 5 minutes on average, so that if more than two or three people need tickets not all demand is met. The time taken for the conductor to supervise boarding and close doors is time that could otherwise be used for revenue generation. In these circumstances DOO should demonstrate a significant revenue enhancement.

    Neither of the two fall back mechanisms are anywhere near foolproof. Permit to Travel machines are unreliable and, because they are based at unstaffed stations, are vulnerable to vandalism and bad weather. In theory, passengers without a ticket are required to buy a ticket at the first available station, but limitations on the opportunity to buy and tight connections to other trains would often mean that this would add 30 minutes to the journey. Paying at the destination station is also all very well if it is a London terminus or another large station with fully staffed barrier lines and payment points, but few other stations are completely covered in this way.

    It’s clear that this is another reason why DfT are anxious to win on the issue.

  11. Malcolm,

    It is definitely correct that guards on London Underground were trained to drive a tube train in an emergency. I think we can assume it was to the next station with passengers and probably onward to the nearest siding without.

    On the tube you can learn to rudimentally drive a train in a day. You generally only had two aspect signals and there was tripcock protection so basically it was hard for a guard to do too much damage. Drivers (or motormen as they were called) would have had to have route knowledge to drive the train efficiently, fault-finding knowledge and a whole host of other skills.

  12. Mrs Redboots says:

    The elimination of guards may make running trains more efficient and easier, but who checks your tickets if there are no guards? Not all stations are yet gated.

    I found I far preferred the American system where there was a staff member in every carriage, never mind every train! Not very efficient – American trains aren’t – but at least one’s ticket was checked, one was shown to a seat, helped off at one’s destination and generally looked-after. The “Land of the Free” seems to provide a far better level of service than we do!

  13. ngh says:

    Re ELL driver,

    I still surprised that TfL didn’t spec the combined sunguard / rain deflectors that Bombardier had started fitting to the 377s 7 years before the first 378s was delivered.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I find it somewhat incredible that DOO is even a talking point, let alone a reason for industrial action. I’ve grown up on the Bedpan line, where DOO has been in operation for getting on for 30 years. I would imagine the kinks have been worked out by now…

  15. machorne says:

    Malcolm is right to ask a question that seems to have eluded most history books. The answer is that from the beginning of electric working on the Underground, guards were fully trained and certificated to drive trains and, in an increasingly desultory way, given some opportunity to practice driving if they wanted to. I had to test drivers and guards myself at one time (which was quite an interesting activity that sometimes had unexpected consequences) but with guards it was really a matter of being satisfied that he or she could get a train safely to the next station where help could be obtained. Almost as important (and rather more common than an unconscious driver) was the existence of a number of depressingly common faults where train movement could only be obtained with a driver driving from the rear and the guard braking from the front. Guards had to know how to drive (or at least stop) trains with a range of fault conditions too. All this was part of a guard’s training: they pretty much had the full driver’s course, just less of it.

    I am not so sure that towards the end of the 1970s and during the 1980s there was always the confidence amongst managers that all this would work in practice, for lots of reasons, partly because these types of incident were so unusual that the chances the training would actually be used in anger was remote so staff forgot, or lacked confidence. Refresher training was patchy, so that when something did go wrong one could sometimes do no more than hope that the right thing would be done according to the procedures. I suspect lack of practical experience is still a factor today. With everything so reliable now (relatively), when incidents happen, can you rely on everyone remembering what to do? That must surely be part of the guards-or-not debate?

  16. Anonymous says:

    The problems with DOO is the action of people, the general public. You only see a limited section with DOO namely the doors, you cannot see people trying to get out just getting in and only in the door area. Several times I done the door close procedure only to find someone dashing in or off at the last minute has blocked the doors or got coats, straps etc stuck in the doors. Their has also been a recent case of a passenger suffering life changing injuries in such a case. Also to calrify thameslink is one of the worst lines for sexual assults, assults and anti social behaviour. The other thought i leave you with is the new 12 car 700 can at full capacity carry 1700 people, their safety lies with just one person….the driver…

  17. Jim elson says:

    Bedpan was the first BR passenger DOO,bravely insisted upon by Chairman Peter Parker. The new 317s sat at Cricklewood for about a year & then the BR Board bit the bullet & successfully insisted they come in with a 7.5% bonus for DOO driving. From memory it was the mid 1980s. The first DOO in France was about 3 years earlier on the Charles de Gaulle airport to Gare du Nord service. It influenced BR. Thameslink was later.
    All Southern drivers,bar the Uckfield DMUs have released the doors for at least 6 years,whether they are DOO or not. So they are already almost there. For all the reasons mentioned before my posting it is nonsensical that DOO is being blocked. The guards released from playing jingle bells can be allocated to the trains that really need an on board presence for revenue purposes.

  18. Balthazar says:

    More than one comment above asks “who checks and sells tickets if there’s no guard?”. This question misunderstands what the term “guard” denotes on the railway, and the answer is simple: “someone whose role is to check and sell tickets, but who is not a guard”.

    As the article makes clear, the fundamental role of guard as understood on the railway is operational – indeed technically (but questionably, hence the article) defined as “safety-critical” – *not* revenue protection.

    A guard can fulfil all his/her duties on a service notorious for fare dodging without ever emerging from the back cab.

    On the other hand, someone who is not a guard can check and sell tickets (and otherwise help passengers) on a DOO train without having door control duties.

    Of course this is controversial stuff, not least because without the safety-critical designation one is, in principle, talking about a lower pay grade for new entrants, if not for currently employed but displaced guards. Plus there will always be scepticism about whether non-guard staff (who, unlike a guard on a non-DOO train, do not *have* to be there) will actually be deployed once DOO has been implemented.

  19. IslandDweller says:

    Isn’t the Liverpool death relevant? (The case where an intoxicated passenger fell against the side of the train as the doors were closing – driver pulled away with gruesome consequences. He’s now in jail).
    The presumption (mentioned in the early paragraphs) that if the passenger does something daft then any consequences are their own fault) seems to have been removed. I’m no fan of Bob Crow type grandstanding, but I can quite understand why drivers are now very reluctant for further DOO, if they have criminal liability hanging over their head if a passenger falls against the train just as they pull away.

  20. Jim elson says:

    There is a Liverpool case pending, & another where the guard was found guilty of manslaughter. Both were Merseyside Trains with Guards who were wholly responsible for the despatch. If relevent at all they suggest DOO with the latest technology to assist the driver would have been safer. Many drivers I know enjoy DOO. It’s a break from being like a blinkered race horse having to look ahead at the track al the time & it is interesting to see who is getting on & off your train. Variety is the spice of life.

  21. Man of Kent says:

    Bedpan DOO given in various Ian Allan books as electrification available for driver training from January 1981; blacked by unions though subsequently announced as starting in May 1982; four peak trains ran in DOO mode from April 1983 and full service from July 1983 (save that by this time not enough drivers had been trained and so some trains were dmu to St Pancras vice emu to Moorgate). So some five years before Thameslink 319s took the route over.

  22. ngh says:

    Re Island dweller,

    Isn’t it the guard who is now inside following that Liverpool incident?

  23. Timbeau says:

    As I understand it the usual career progression on the Underground was for a guard to qualify as a driver but then continue working as a guard until a driver vacancy came up. So on many trains the person acting as guard was actually a fully qualified driver. (And as the driver would have previously been a guard, they could swap roles – useful if it’s pouring with rain when you get to the terminus and you don’t fancy a wet walk along the platform to change ends!)

  24. Bengley says:

    I note you say the TL 700 units are not fitted with guard door controls.

    This is not the case – they are fitted with Guard’s Operating Panels in every carriage as can be seen in this tweet.

  25. ngh says:

    Re Jim Elson @22.23,

    Indeed and many guards outside the Southern Rail system don’t seem to realise the amount of technology that Southern have (e.g. Automatic Selective Door Operation ASDO and the latest addition Correct Side Door Opening with virtually identical systems also used on LU S stock) they assume it is still the old curved mirrors or later platform screens, as soon as they find out what the technology and procedures are they start getting very worried about what will happen when their own franchise gets new stock.

    The body side cameras (and ASDO system iterations) on the 377s have an interesting history in that they were specified by an ex LU manager who had seen the impact later guard removal had at LU, who then moved to Connex (SE) in the dying days before quickly moving to Govia’s buyout of the failed Connex SC. Any bets on what that individual is doing now?

    Hitachi and Siemens are using the same bodyside camera and screen equipment (designed and made in the UK) by the same supplier (who also make the ANPR system equipment) that Bombardier sourced the original equipment from 15 years ago and still use.

  26. I was originally a bit sloppy in my reference to Thameslink. As correctly pointed out, DOO eventually successfully introduced on the preceding Bedford – St Pancras electrification. I am fairly sure by the time the agreement was made Thameslink was going to happen so the agreement would have been made with Thameslink in mind – but maybe someone will correct me on that.

    See here for NSE chronology.

  27. ngh says:

    Re Bengley,

    But doesn’t the franchise contract specify DOO operation (stock was ordered far earlier than the franchise contract) and also the 700s can’t meet the time keeping requirements in the core if they use guards?

  28. ngh,

    they assume it is still the old curved mirrors or later platform screens,

    Indeed, that is what I have to admit I have so much trouble getting my head around. When you travel on suburban Southern you feel as if it is all done by smoke screens and mirrors on the platform because they are so prevalent. But, as far as I can tell, it is only class 455 trains that actually use them.

    Even more absurd, most of the trains running with guards aboard actually are capable of displaying the images of the doors in the drivers cab whereas the guard’s view may be quite limited (as highlighted by the picture at Hurst Green). Quite how one can argue it is safer to leave door closing to the guard in such circumstances is beyond my comprehension.

  29. Walthamstow Writer says:

    Surely the government are only bankrolling Govia if DfT are waiving payment deductions from the fee for running the service. It’s quite clear that plenty of trains are not running for whatever reason but where they are GTR’s responsibility then the payment should be reduced. I would dearly love to know what is happening in terms of the contracted payments but I expect DfT would not answer FOIs on that topic. Perhaps a question will be raised in Parliament to try to dig out the truth?

    I think the Peter Wilkinson “outburst” was extremely unfortunate and ill judged. I’ve little doubt that Government have taken some tactical decisions around rolling stock procurement and within franchise specifications to try to secure a reduction in staffing levels (and costs) on the railway. Of course it will be presented as “private sector efficiencies” vs “evil trade unions” when it’s most likely nothing of the sort.

    One factor that isn’t mentioned but which surely has some relevance is the impact of rapidly increasing patronage and overcrowding. The Southern video is all jolly lovely at a deserted Gatwick Airport but I’d be far more interested to see how things look on a dingy wet winter’s morning when the sun has barely come up and there are 500 people on a curved platform trying to board a 12 car train that’s already stuffed full of people. A couple of year ago ORR highlighted that LU faced some challenges to its management of PTI issues but acknowledged its practices were well ahead of National Rail. Both the TOCs and Network Rail had to improve their processes, data gathering and analysis and employ better risk mitigation as demand rose. I wonder if that has happened? I’m not saying that retaining guards is necessarily the answer but the lack of any rational argument from either side in the divisive GTR dispute does not bode well. It also runs the risk that objective, rational argument supported by evidence will probably not figure in any future challenges around Scotrail, Arriva Northern, GWR or elsewhere. The fact that the unions have accepted a wide range of practices on National Rail and with other operators like LU, Tyne and Wear Metro etc doesn’t put them in the best light either.

    Just to support an earlier remark I think it was the Bedpan dispute in the early 1980s that was over DOO. It wasn’t Thameslink per se as it was 6-7 years earlier. My memory is a bit rusty so happy to be corrected. – Thames News (no commentary) with shots of class 317s sitting in sidings. -Thames News feature about the 317s coming into service but the build quality being appalling and having to have emergency rectification work (I’d forgotten about this!). Features 1980s St Pancras albeit briefly. – 1982 BR strike featuring slam door trains and the old style London Bridge. The national BR dispute was about “flexible rostering”. – Commons exchange about the “Bedpan” problems.

  30. Anonymous 22:09,

    You only see a limited section with DOO namely the doors, you cannot see people trying to get out just getting in and only in the door area.

    But a guard can only see in his carriage. Potentially the feed from the internal CCTV could also be transmitted to the driver. This is more of an argument about how best to implement DOO rather than anything fundamental.

    In a similar way, if you transmit the images to the drivers cab, London Underground style, there is no reason why this can’t include images from cameras on footbridges where appropriate.

  31. TL driver says:

    A slight error: GTR is Govia Thameslink Railway (not Greater Thameslink Railway)
    [Doh. I knew that. Now corrected. Thanks. PoP]

    I’ve only known DOO but when a rostering error between TL and Southern resulted in me being allocated a guard on my train I did explain i’d still be opening/closing the doors (in all honesty it would have seemed very odd to have someone else getting involved).

    I can understand the points of the unions, but as someone who has come to the railway from an outside industry I find the place archaic in some ways. This is one. DOO has been operating just fine on Thameslink for 30 odd years. I can’t for the life of me understand why Southern have the convoluted set up with guards closing doors, working only some routes etc etc. Just seems unnecessarily complicated to staff.

    I do agree with the point that once the Class 700s come in that I may be responsible for the safety of up to 1700 but then I guess it can be up to 1200 now with a 12-car train anyway. I don’t feel it’s any less safe.

    What I would say is that the Class 377/2 & /5 that i regularly drive have pretty poor quality cameras and certainly not a patch on platform monitors. This is mainly due to the fact that they have a very shallow platform angle and so you can only see a very thin selection of the platform – basically right by the edge. You always miss the passengers running across the platform for the train. However, the Class 387 monitors (the same as those shown in the video) are much improved and the best of all options in my opinion.

    Also the point about Gatwick Express is interesting. We currently operate some of the new 387/2 as 12 car units on TL on this route. I found it odd that Gatwick Express drivers won’t do what we will but again I think this comes down more to the unions than anything else…

  32. ngh says:

    Re Phil @19:46

    “This issue is way bigger than GTR”

    Indeed 3750+ multiple units cars* ordered and awaiting delivery before 2020 where DOO (with bodyside cameras and other systems) is designed to be the main operating mode is truly massive (more than all the slam door Southern Region stock ever built)

    *No idea what the CAF spec will be for some of the new Northern** and TPE units so that number is probably larger given Northern have a 50% DOO service target to hit…

    ** The Arriva Trains MD is another individual who also learnt plenty about DOO operation and cameras etc at Southern.

    Most people seem to forget the South London Lines part of the current Southern effectively went DOO in 1991 and 40% of Southern (inc GatEx) is already DOO.

  33. Malcolm says:

    Jim Elson says “Many drivers I know enjoy DOO.”

    Enjoying working in a particular way is quite consistent with a belief that such a way of working is not appropriate for all trains in all circumstances. And the success of station re-staffing with Overground takeover shows that an appropriate staff presence on the railways is appreciated and beneficial. Whether the traditional guard role is the best form of “appropriate staff presence” is of course a more contentious question.

  34. TL driver says:

    A valid point Malcom. Tfl have basically moved guards off some Overground routes and brought staff on to platforms, allowing them to be gated. I think this is a better way of working.

  35. TL driver,

    Sounds like there is a good case for retrofitting the class 377s with the better cameras used on the class 387.

  36. Old Buccaneer says:

    In relation to CCTV on TfL trains trams & DLR* and the London commuter TOCs, does anyone on here know:
    1 how much data is generated every 24 hours?
    2 how long it is stored for?
    3 what the “subject access rights” are?
    4 whether it’s all of sufficiently good quality to be used in criminal cases?

    My guess is that the answer to 1 is “quite large and growing, even with advances in compression” which makes the answers to the later questions more pertinent and interesting.
    Reasons for the guess include:
    A more stock with equipment fitted, eg new trains for Thameslink & GatEx;
    B longer hours of operation (night tube, …);
    C improved quality tends =>more bytes per unit of time, perhaps offset partly by improved compression.

    *I imagine there’s a lot of data from buses & the strategic road network, but that’s off topic here.

  37. ngh says:

    Re Malcolm and TL driver,

    And GTR are following the TfL/LO model and going for more gating and gates manned for longer (lots will be first to last service so 19+ hours) and with station hosts rather than ticket office desk (A different set of union issues that will probably kick off over the summer!)

  38. Old Buccaneer says:

    TL driver: neither of my local LO stations, Clapham High St and Wandsworth Road, are gated; but they are staffed & I appreciate it.

    I can see that it’s potentially wasteful to provide platform staff at stations below, say, 8 tph; but personally I can’t get that to support the case for retaining all current guards in their current roles.

  39. Old Buccaneer says:

    ngh no wonder GTR manglement are playing hardball in this round.

  40. Latecomer says:

    Thanks for the article. A few immediate thoughts and comments. The DOO cameras even on the relatively modern 378’s aren’t quite as crystal clear as in the video posted. It can be quite a challenge just scanning 5 images at a busy platform let alone the 12 that some stock must have now. Sunlight causes more issues to the in cab monitors than people might think. If low sunlight is entering through the cab door window then it can be near impossible to see anything. I contort myself into all sorts of positions trying to block the sunlight at times and, as ELL driver writes, sometimes we have to resort to degraded dispatch. That reminds me however of the mocking headlines I’ve seen in the Standard et al pouring scorn on TOC’s and their drivers for trains running late due to the “wrong type of sunlight”. Cheap headlines from lazy journalists who have no idea just how challenging DOO work can be in certain conditions.

    Driver’s have raised some concerns regarding sunlight issues causing glare on in-cab monitors and LOROL are investigating whether we can move to upgraded screens (the monitors are effectively laptops in a housing and screen technology and the damping of reflection has evidently moved on somewhat). Driver’s have also complained of bright reflection off their white shirts onto the monitors when the sun is very bright. it may seem like a joke but it really is an issue. Almost any other colour would be better – ideally some flat shade of blue or grey. It is under consideration but I doubt anything will happen until TfL have Arriva on board in November when there could well be new uniforms under consideration.

    Just a couple of other points; platform edge white lines are absolutely vital to DOO drivers as we check that nothing is obstructing the doors. On busy platforms such as Canada Water they become dirty grey in the area of most foot-fall after a very short period of time, namely where the doors are. It is very difficult to distinguish shapes or shadows against anything other than a white background. Also many stations can have massive contrasts of light and shade which the light sensitive cameras can struggle with. Finally, as drivers we can only see what is in the monitor. We can’t see someone running with a pushchair from behind the rear cab or from a few metres of to the side. The hustle alarms are there for a reason but they are oft ignored and once we press door close we aren’t able to stop it. A guard can of course have a more complete view of the platform and have interaction with people moving towards the train on many occasions. I won’t declare what I consider to be the best method of operation, but there are a lot of factors to keep in mind when considering DOO operations and just how many cameras a driver can safely look at when stops might occur every two or three minutes.

  41. ngh says:

    Re Old Buccaneer,

    On 4. it has been lots of times.

    Re [email protected]

    Ideal bargaining chip to persuade ASLEF to fold if needed?
    Given GTR not appear to have agreed to hold onto the 29x 387/1 currently on Thameslink (with GWR getting new build instead) that created possibilities to ditch all the 365s too and reduce platform dispatch on the GN routes.

    The DOO equipment changed on the 377s after the /5s so potentially post cascades to SE that leaves circa 1400 cameras and 360 sets of cab screens to replace not likely to be any change out of a million but still worth it.

  42. Malcolm says:

    On the issue of the number of passengers a driver may be responsible for. We should also remember that a train driver is, in a way, responsible for many lives even when their train is empty. The other trains involved in any accident that they cause could contain in total any number of passengers.

    (Though I should add that many other groups of people are involved in causing accidents, and not all accidents injure anyone at all).

  43. Southeastern Passenger says:

    @ngh 31st May 23:55pm
    Guard panels on Class 700s make some sense, a previous plan was that the Southeastern DOO arrangements would not change. Otford – Maidstone East (or Ashford as allowed in the franchise spec) is not using DOO at the moment. The previous Bedford – Ashford/Rochester trains had guards on board for dispatch duties outside the Southeastern DOO area in the same way as Southeastern mainline services.

    Perhaps one thing worth adding to the discussion is that safety is a spectrum rather than safe vs unsafe. The RAIB Clapham South report shows some of the differences between mainline trains and London Underground in managing PTI risk. For example, LU accepts it is not always possible to see the full height of all doors whereas mainline trains it is a requirement for the train safety check. This is presumably based on a higher risk to safety from extended dwells due to overcrowding (for subsequent trains) and potential non PTI risks. However, LU typically have more ways of stopping departing trains quickly and in cab cameras remain on whilst the train is partially platformed, whereas mainline trains the cameras turn off and platform staff have no mechanism to stop departing trains.

  44. Mike says:

    Latecomer – I think Arriva Trains Wales darkened their shirts’ colour after reflections were identified as an issue in a level crossing incident on the ETCS-fitted Cambrian Coat Line.

    All – one issue not identified with DOO (perhaps because it’s become historical) is the overall responsibility for the train. Traditionally that was with the guard rather than the driver: if there’s no guard there’s no issue, but what happens when there are both?

    To my mind the logic of putting all train operations in one pair of hands with revenue issues in another (to be provided if/when appropriate) makes a lot of sense.

    And one thing I don’t really understand (unless it was money, or they didn’t want the seemingly inevitable punchup now): with cameras, screens etc now on board, why didn’t Northern spend money on that for the 319s rather than taking the backwards step to guard control?

    Re terminology, we have train managers, conductors, guards (and I think InterCity had conductor guards for a while) – would a bit of consistency help?

  45. Ian J says:

    @Man of Kent: as well as what you say, here is a quote from the official history, British Rail 1974-1997 by Terry Gourvish, p. 183:

    It was not until March 1983 that two further RSNT Decisions… awarded £6 a turn for DOO on the Bedpan, in recognition of the ‘isolation factor’… a limited electrified service began in April, but the full service was not introduced until October 1983, 17 months later than initially intended. British Rail negotiators had maintained a firm position, encouraged by Secretary of State David Howell and his officials, but it did appear that a fair proportion of the labour savings had been bargained away….

    Note the reference to government backing, like in the current dispute.

    The Class 317s were sent elsewhere once Thameslink started so I assume that they, like the 319s, were adapted for guards to use the doors.

  46. Ian J says:

    @Mrs Redboots: I found I far preferred the American system where there was a staff member in every carriage, never mind every train!

    Do you think there may be a relationship between the extraordinarily high level of staffing on American commuter rail systems and the extraordinarily poor service frequency they provide?

  47. Ian J says:

    @WW: I would dearly love to know what is happening in terms of the contracted payments

    According to the GTR Franchise Agreement, p. 528, “any strike or other Industrial Action by any or all of the employees of the Franchisee” constitutes Force Majeure and so does not affect payments to the franchisee.

    I don’t think that it is a coincidence that the franchise where DOO is being pushed first is the one where it is the government, not the operator, taking the revenue risk.

    I also don’t think it is a coincidence that the only franchise (SWT) where the DfT couldn’t agree terms with the current operator for an extension was also one where the operator opposes DOO.

  48. Tim Burns says:

    In Scotland where I live, the union stance to the introduction of further DOO seems a little perverse, when identical trains in DOO mode already function quite well. Certainly Glasgow suburban trains have been DOO for a while without major incident.

    Certainly I can see the case for a second train member outside the busy gated networks where ticket offices do not exist, to collect revenue. But the overall impact of train operation on schedule performance – as discussed above – needs looking at. I cannot be alone in being frustrated on a late running train that the guard is busy selling a ticket and cannot open the doors as the train stops, thus increasing the delay – and then having to fight their way through the crowd waiting to get off to access the door controls. It seems a no brainer that the person at the front cannot press that door open switch.

    Of course suggesting jobs are lost is never pleasant. But we are in changing times. If the unions have a case then they need to present some hard objective evidence, which does seem to be lacking all around. At the end of the day, passengers will want the chosen option to be the one that helps them get from A to B safely and quickly. And the anecdotal evidence suggests the huge amount of single person operation at home and abroad, is not an impediment to either objective.

  49. 100andthirty says:

    PoP……please note a couple of bugs.
    1) Victoria line platforms are not all straight
    2) no more than two video streams to LU trains and on some lines it is only one. Video images are mixed in the station equipment. On curved platforms, there can be up to the same number of cameras as there are cars in the train whereas on straight platforms there might be only two.

    A more general comment. Quality of camera, screen and transmission equipment is important. However, so is photography…… angles, contrast, and so on. The images on the Gatwick Express are good. The issue of glare and sunlight is also real, but is also predicable. Therefore if the organisation records a sunlight incident on, say, 1st June (currently dark and murky but you never know……) then it should expect to get the same problem the next year and could plan deployment of resources to help drivers

  50. TL driver says:

    POP -00.33. It would be difficult though obviously not impossible to retrofit the newer monitors in the older units as they are located in a slightly different place and are considerably smaller than the new ones.

    Latecomer makes a really good point that using in cab monitors on the ELL must really be a pain. I’d assumed that TfL would have platform dispatch at some of those busy stations but it seems I am wrong. That really does leave the driver a little exposed. One of the most difficult things I find with in cab despatch where you have a very shallow angle of view is distinguishing who is getting on the train and who is just standing very close waiting for the next one to an alternative location. Farringdon is a nightmare for that in the peak with its wavy platform. While I am pro DOO, I do find it strange that station like St Pancras International and Farringdon don’t have dispatch, which City Thameslink and Blackfriars do. In fact St Pancras have a sort of hybrid where staff blow whistles and wave their arms about but don’t actually dispatch. Though his does help warn passengers to stay away from the train.

    Old Bucaneer – 00.34. The amount of data collected now must be enormous. Monitors only run while the doors are released/train is stationary. As soon as you take power the monitors go off. I think this is a detrimental side of in cab monitors which could actually become an advantage of them. If they on just a few seconds longer then you could do one last check as you pull out of the station.

    New units also have pantograph cameras and also front facing cameras. I do wonder if some of this is to help pass the buck in the world of delay minutes “your pantograph brought the wires down!” “No! Your damaged wires snapped the pan off!”…

    I’m not well versed in union matters/gossip but I understand that the new 700s are to be self despatch at ALL stations. If this is the case then it’s ridiculous. Somewhere like East Croydon (particularly UP train) would literally be impossible for a driver to dispatch safely at. Extremely busy narrow platforms, with adjacent platforms where trains pull up and people spill out as you wait, though the biggest problem is people running down the slope at the south end of the station and diving on to trains. This happens right until the doors are closed and would not be visible in platform or in cab mionitors. The staff are excellent in advising people to stand back. I would not like to see them disappear, with three despatchers required to see off a 12 car on those curved platforms.

    Furthmore, the 700s currently have big issues with dispatch due to Siemens making the BIL lights on the side of the units too bright. I understand that from dusk through til dawn this makes despatch with the cab monitors almost impossible., though I assume this should be fairly easy to rectify.

    Ultimately, while the role of the guard may to some be extinct, the role of the platform dispatcher is as important as ever.

  51. Anonymous says:

    TLdriver…. I think your posts are really inciteful insightful and clearly indicated the need for different solitions at different places. However please will you let us know what a BIL light is?

    Pantograph cameras are indeed used to apportion responsibility in the event of a dewirement. What is really wanted and is technically feasible is to take the video recidings from the Pantograph camera together with the GPS recordings for analysis. This could show signs of pantograph defects and excessive wire movement both vertical and lateral so as to prevent dewirements. I don’t know whether this is done but do know that it’s possible.

  52. First of all as a general point, I really appreciate the information gained from comments. This is especially so from those who are, or clearly were, on the inside.

    I had suspected that train mounted cameras would not be as good as platform ones. Feedback seems to confirm that view and I am slightly disappointed that the train mounted ones now seem to be the primary method for providing an image. I would have thought platform based cameras (whose feed could also be used for other purposes) far superior and comments seem to confirm this. I am absolutely convinced that monitors should be in the drivers cab so long as we still have a driver.

    At busy stations, at least, I would like to see platform based cameras as the preferred primary source with cameras positioned so that sunlight affecting one could not affect a nearby one that could be used as an alternative.

    On the subject of upgrading, I wasn’t necessarily expecting compatibility between 387 and 377. What I was expecting is that when the latest generation of CCTV and monitors is significantly better than what is currently installed then it is replaced. Electronics is getting better all the time and with LED backlit monitors or, better still, the potentially brighter OLED monitors now starting to appear, I would have thought this would have a good safety case and be a good use of funds.

    Whilst understanding the cynicism with the Evening Standard getting cheap headlines with the issue of sunlight one does have to question why with all the technology at our disposal this can still be a problem. Apart from duplication to avoid it, as 100andthirty points out it is predicable and well known. The sun follows the same pattern around the sky year-on-year.

    I agree that this should not be seen as an end to the platform dispatcher (or dispatchers at really busy stations). Whilst ultimate responsibility should rest with the driver, or guard if he still exists, there is no reason why dispatcher cannot assist and also issue “right away” after the doors are closed (using the Right Away plunger) at busy times at busy stations.

  53. ngh says:

    Re 130

    “What is really wanted and is technically feasible is to take the video recordings from the Pantograph camera together with the GPS recordings for analysis. This could show signs of pantograph defects and excessive wire movement both vertical and lateral so as to prevent dewirements. I don’t know whether this is done but do know that it’s possible.”

    That and far more (full panotgraph telemetry*) is being done on the IEP, the data has to be accurately positioned to within <3m and have the correct ELR, track, mileage and chainage. [they also have all the basic track geometry recording fitted as standard]. The train will automatically upload the data to NR when it returns to depot.

    * From the IEP spec:

    Overhead Line Height +/- 10mm
    Overhead Line Stagger (uncompensated for vehicle roll) +/- 10mm
    Pantograph Contact Force (max within 0.2m sample) +/- 5N
    Pantograph Vertical Acceleration (max within 0.2m sample) +/- 2g
    Pantograph Longitudinal acceleration (max within 0.2m sample) +/- 1g
    Train Speed +/- 2mph

  54. Old Buccaneer says:

    BIL = Body side Indicator Light. It’s the light outside the train that is on when the doors are open.
    (& I think you mean insightful).

  55. ngh says:

    Re PoP 0842,

    “The sun follows the same pattern around the sky year-on-year.”

    Almost, the earth’s orbit does have some slight year on year variations and a year is 365.24 days with leap days every so often so things can shift to adjacent days and the timings can change by a few minutes. 😉

  56. Greg Tingey says:

    Provided ex-guards are redeployed as passenger assistants ( or whatever you want to call them ) as both revenue protection & much more important passenger protection – see comment about unwelcome behaviour on Thameslink – them given the already wide use of DOO – what’s the problem?
    As an ex-union man, I’m sorry to say that “the unions” seem to have got this one badly around their neck.
    Of course, sooner or later, the anomalous situation in London of the lines from Waterloo all having guards, with relatively slow platform operations will have to be faced, which could be “fun”

  57. 100andthirty,

    I thought as I wrote it that stating the Victoria line platforms were completely straight was not entirely true (same on the Jubilee line extension). Where they are not they almost are and, I believe, when not are very slightly concave so view is actually improved. As always, willing to be corrected. Of course, there are slight exceptions – certainly in the vertical direction, at stations where existing platforms were used as a result of same-level (cross platform) interchange provision. I have slightly modified the wording.

    I did not realise the bandwidth was originally so limited for video signals but that cannot be a restriction nowadays. Not so easy to reword so I have left it as it is (and “two” technically is multiple).

    For various reasons, not least tunnels, a location identifying method for pantograph monitoring would have to be based on more than GPS. This should be a case of integrating the information with other information at hand and used elsewhere (e.g. wheel turns since last location fix, known route taken including which track when multiple track).

    TL driver,

    Intrigued by your comment about narrow platforms at East Croydon and I did wonder whether this was an issue for drivers. Of course, strictly speaking the platforms at East Croydon are not narrow. They are quite wide. What restricts the width is structures (including the new footbridge). I do wonder if the waiting rooms and toilet block really ought to be rebuilt with reduced width if/when they substantially modify the station for Croydon remodelling (2020-23) – or even before then.

  58. ngh,

    The sun follows the same pattern around the sky year-on-year.

    100% true. The fact that our system of measuring time on earth is not 100% accurate due the fact a year is not an integral multiple of days is irrelevant. Maybe I should have said solar year.

    Yes, timing can vary by a few minutes but then so can train arrival times. 😉 😉

    Edit: Whoops. Yes the sun does follow the same pattern when the earth is taken a single point but of course the rotation of the earth doesn’t year on year for the reason you say. So a different part of the earth will be at any particular location one year later.

  59. Ian J says:

    @TL driver: As soon as you take power the monitors go off. I think this is a detrimental side of in cab monitors which could actually become an advantage of them. If they on just a few seconds longer then you could do one last check as you pull out of the station.

    A difference in practice between National Rail and the Underground – does anyone know how Crossrail will do it?

    Would observing monitors while moving conflict with the need to observe signals? (In the long term, or not so long for the Thameslink core, ETCS cab signalling might solve this).

  60. Phil says:

    Re Greg Tingey @ 1 June 2016 (and others)

    The basic issue the RMT union has with ‘Guards’ is ultimately this:-

    If DOO is not in operation, then no guard = no train and thus the RMT retain the power to bring a TOC to its knees through strike action.

    Talk of ‘safety issues’ by the RMT, while not totally irrelevant, is basically a useful smokescreen for the real issue at play here.

    Ultimately platform staff or Revenue protection roles are paid substantially less than ‘Guard’ roles and neither two positions are vital to the actual running of trains. On a DOO railway there only two jobs where strike action can bring things to a stand:- drivers (mainly ASLEF members) and signallers (mainly RMT members)

    So while GTR have said that redeployed ex Guards will not have their salaries cut, over time it will be easy for the TOC to simply offer less generous wage increases over time – and the RMT union will no longer have the power to contest it through disruptive strike action.

    Hence the determination by the RMT to fight DOO – as it is a big threat to the Union’s ability to protect members wages / T&Cs in future years, plus the opportunity to give the Government, particularly Conservative ones, a bloody nose through strike action.

  61. Latecomer says:

    On 378’s we still have about 4 seconds once the train starts moving to keep observing the monitors. Whilst I have never (fortunately) faced the situation where someone has been trapped I have been concerned enough about a passengers actions to bring the train to an abrupt stand on numerous occasions. I would be very uncomfortable about having any less time than those 4 seconds, even if in some respects it removes driver liability away from the situation! Indeed, I wish they would remain on for slightly longer. Once interlock has been attained it’s really a case of constantly checking between the monitors and the signal aspect. Signals can revert to danger for various reasons and I have had to stop within seconds of taking power. If a driver were to pass a signal at danger in that situation there would be a very detailed assessment as to whether they had a reasonable amount of time to spot the reversion given many differing factors such as the position of the signal and what was happening in the monitors, or indeed if there were any other in-cab distractions such as fault or pass comm alarms, etc.

    Metro work is very testing on the eyes as from the moment of approach to a station until 4 seconds or so into departure the eyes are constantly flitting between the live actions of passengers, stopboards, the speedometer, signal aspects, TPWS loops, on board images, signals and other hazards.

    On ELL stations there has been a marked increase in platform staff at peak periods. They are NOT dispatchers and if they were to attempt to provide any kind of indication to a driver that they can close the doors or move the train then they could expect a very robust reaction! In the main they are very helpful in getting people to stand back behind the yellow line although, you still get some passengers who pay little attention and others who are hell-bent on forcing doors regardless of the presence of staff in hi-vis stood right next to them.

  62. Phil,

    And with the progression towards Regional Operating Centres with a lot of automated control and one ROC being able to take over the functions of another in an emergency, the actions of RMT signallers would be limited if they could provide sufficient trained-up managers. So the most critical group of workers is the drivers.

    Don’t forget that on the Underground many stations, by law, must be staffed with a minimum staffing level of competent staff passed out for that station and this also applies to some National Rail stations below ground level (including, I believe, Liverpool Street).

    The great irony is that if London Underground went to a more DLR like way of running trains (which no doubt the RMT would oppose) the RMT would actually probably have more industrial muscle.

    Often left unsaid is not union power as such but the need for their to be a large enough workbase for a union to be viable. As one manager once said “you get the impression that the aims of the union members and their representatives are not always the same”.

  63. timbeau says:

    As can be ascertained from astronomical tables, the times and directions of sunrise and sunset (or indeed solar noon) on a given date vary by no more than 1 minute and 1 degree from one year to the next. If they did, astronomical clocks like Stonehenge would not be correctly aligned every year.

  64. timbeau says:

    “you get the impression that the aims of the union members and their representatives are not always the same”

    Quite apart from any self-interest, for any representative, be it an MP or a union official, there is a difficult balance to be struck between the varying needs and interests of the people you represent.

  65. Fandroid says:

    In my experience there is plenty of on-train revenue protection activity on at least the Goblin part of the Overground.

    The lack of any coherent policy on National Rail concerning platform-based cameras vs train mounted cameras can probably be attributed to the balkanisation of the railways that our governments seem to love so much.

    The delays on door opening on SWT can be extraordinary. It’s easy to tell how much this is due to the pneumatic doors systems or to the guard because there is a loud audible signal once the guard has released the doors. Yesterday we waited for about 10s before that signal on a perfectly straight and uncrowded platform.

    Sense needs to prevail, for the overall benefit of passengers. Platform dispatch has be be provided where needed on top of DOO and there has to be a rational set of rules as to where and when it is provided. If LUL can do manage all this, why are we passengers still waiting?

  66. Jim elson says:

    SWT’s much quoted enthusiasm for guards was not from choice. They have disguised their climb downs in the face of talk of industrial action as a free choice. BR tried to introduce DOO on all those Waterloo services where the guards live in the back cab. The proof is in the giant mirrors still left at the end of at least six platforms,including St Margarets up slow.
    Then SWT announced to the staff that they were introducing DOO,put in new DOO equipment,polished the old, & then backed off when ASLEF breathed on them.
    Then about 5 years ago,trying to emulate Southern’s successful introduction of universal(except on the Diesel Uckfield line) driver door release on non DOO services,SWT told their train crew there would be a ‘change of operational method’ at all stations,door release would be transferred from guard to driver. ASLEF breathed on them again,SWT backed down. Talk about firm committed management!

  67. Mackay says:

    A few comments:
    Whilst few drivers have an issue with self dispatching a four car train from a deserted and straight platformed radlett on a Sunday morning, trying to self despatch from a packed Farringdon at 5.45pm in the week with 12 cars and a packed and curved platform is entirely a different matter.

    In the old days a platform assistant would pull a gate across the entrance to the platform, and then look up and down the platform to assist the guard. Now we’ve got rid of the guard, but in most locations we’ve also got rid of all the platform staff too! – When was the last time you were prevented from getting to the platform to make that last ditch attempt to launch yourself into the train…?

    Once the driver has closed the doors, final checks have to be done-is it safe to depart..? Remember it’s the driver’s legal responsibility not to leave until it’s safe to do so… We don’t want another Liverpool…. (Someone slips between train and platform to their death or life changing injuries and the person responsible for the dispatch goes to jail)… But his view of the doors on the cameras is blocked by others waiting for subsequent trains standing over the yellow line.. More people are constantly arriving on the platform and pressing the door buttons (and are therefore too close to the train to depart safely) though they know they have missed it… The driver is right at the front and has no way to communicate with the people on the platform.. How does he get them to stand away from the train behind the yellow line..? He can’t walk down and bark at them without ringing the signaller to tell him he’s going to leave the cab, and then he also has to shut down the train, as the cab cannot be left unattended. The more time he spends there the busier the platform becomes, making the situation even worse…

    With our railway getting busier this is becoming a more common occurrence…

    If there was a guard on the train he would be free to move along the platform and tell a few people to get back etc in seconds. If there were platform staff they could help, but if they are not properly trained in despatch then the final responsibility is still the driver’s, so though they may say “yeah yeah driver, off you go” it’s not them that may end up in prison. If you’re not gonna have a guard on the train then at least have properly trained dispatchers at difficult places during peak times…

    Despite reporting problems such as these and asking for staff, and even delaying trains by up to 10/15 minutes at some locations, nothing gets done because it costs money. All that the TOCs do seem to do is erase the yellow line and paint another one in even closer to the edge of the platform, so the punters waiting on for the next train stand even closer to the edge, this blocking even more of the view of the platform in the driver’s monitors!

    .. And Farringdon, of course, is not going to get any less busy when cross rail opens is it!!

    How many people have to get mangled or killed in this situation before railway mangers will take it seriously as a problem..? All the while it’s the driver’s legal responsibility, and not the manager’s problem it’s unlikely… Good on the unions for taking a stand on this issue for once!

  68. Greg Tingey says:

    All too true.
    It wouldn’t matter so much if it wasn’t for the awful precedent & (IMHO) miscarriage of justice represented by “the Liverpool Case” …
    This is where railway management are at fault, in the same way that some parts of “the unions” are at fault for insisting to the last-ditch for DOO.
    A circle-squaring exercise is coming to a platform near you, it seems!

  69. Malcolm says:

    Greg: You are entitled to your opinion about the Liverpool guard jailed for manslaughter, but there will be many here who, having seen the news reports, are satisfied that he was correctly convicted. Either way it does not change the fact that a person dispatching a train is legally responsible for any mishap which they would have been able to prevent, but did not. Discussion of this general responsibility – and particularly its proposed or actual transfer from guards to drivers – is OK here.

    But this is not an appropriate place to discuss that Liverpool case any further (nor another one which was mentioned and is apparently not yet resolved).

  70. Malcolm says:

    Greg: Further to your reference to “management”, I do agree with you that in a number of historical cases (Quintishill for instance) the staff on the ground have received all the blame and punishment, including some which should have been pinned on various levels of railway management who had failed to do everything in their power to ensure a safe system. Such a tendency – to push the blame for accidents as far down the chain of command as can be managed – may be still around today.

  71. Twopenny Tube says:

    Ian J @ 0445: “According to the GTR Franchise Agreement, p. 528, “any strike or other Industrial Action by any or all of the employees of the Franchisee” constitutes Force Majeure and so does not affect payments to the franchisee.”
    Taken at face value, and emphasising the “any” that seems an extraordinary let-off for an operator/employer. Is such a thing found elsewhere in rail or other industries?

    What need to they have to make an effort to foster good industrial relations on doors and guards or anything? Why should the ‘public purse’ underwrite their incompetence?

    Timbeau at 1111: “Quite apart from any self-interest, for any representative, be it an MP or a union official, there is a difficult balance to be struck between the varying needs and interests of the people you represent.”

    A good point, and probably applicable to management within companies and ministries as well, as we have seen in the many discussions in LR about past machinations within and between departments, boards, etc etc.

    In the current topic, no doubt there are those who like to think the overriding aim is to provide safe and efficient transport, and as far as possible to enable secure and stable employment in a safe workplace. However, there are any number of competing priorities, whether political (maybe for instance government agenda vis-a-vis trade unions), commercial (maybe operators striving to reduce their risk and enhance rates of return), or personal (supply your own examples}. Oh and there are people who want to get from A to B safely, in a reasonable time at reasonable cost (supply your own definition of ‘reasonable’.

  72. timbeau says:

    “Either way it does not change the fact that a person dispatching a train is legally responsible for any mishap which they would have been able to prevent, but did not.”

    As no new law has been enacted, the legal position has indeed not changed, as case law can only interpret what the law already was (and it is irrelevant for present purposes as to whether it is Statute Law or Common Law). However, the case has set a legal precedent on the interpretation of that law, as to where the balance lies between the railway’s duty of care to the public, and the public’s responsibility to look after itself. Future case law may further refine that interpretation, but ultimately, the only way of ensuring no-one is ever injured by a train is by not running any trains at all. Thus any legal “duty of care” has to be subject to a test of reasonableness.
    Liverpool has set a precedent in interpreting what is deemed “reasonable”.
    The railway, on behalf of its employees, must take whatever precautions are necessary to ensure that this duty of care is discharged, and if case law has established that this duty is greater than previously understood, then they must take more precautions, whether in the form of better visual aids, to employing more on-train or on-platform dispatchers, to fitting platform edge doors, to (in extremis) clearing platforms of all members of the public before any train movement (arrival or departure) is permitted on the adjacent track.

  73. Malcolm says:

    timbeau says “.. if case law has established that this duty is greater than previously understood …

    I think this is the important part here. I do not read this case as going beyond any previous understanding of the duty of care.

    However, I am neither a legal expert, nor do I have experience in dispatching trains. People with more relevant knowledge or experience may find differently.

  74. Mackay and Greg Tingey,

    At the risk of a touch of arrogance in speaking for others, I don’t think many people on this forum would have a problem with recognising that the issues at Farringdon are unsatisfactory.

    However, you can’t do much about the curved platforms and at the end of the day someone has to be responsible for the actual dispatch. I would suggest the person best able to fulfil this duty is the driver. Once you accept that, if you do, then by all means expect management and platform staff to assist.

    The point about people not standing back behind the hardly visible yellow line when the train is about to depart is noted. I still think the solution is the German one of a strict rule not departing until all people are clear. An announcement to that effect and peer pressure from people waiting should soon ensure enforcement. I would imagine mind will soon focus on the problem when they attempt to run 24tph and they have the London Assembly Transport Committee on their back asking why timekeeping on Thameslink is so poor.

    No consolation in this particular case but one good thing about Thameslink is that other central London platforms are about as good as you can get for dispatch purposes.

  75. Fandroid says:

    The railway has its own subset of Health and Safety law and administration. However, I think it’s safe to assume that the same general principles apply as in the external world of work. Anyone who has had real safety responsibility will know that it’s absolutely essential that the lines of responsibility are crystal clear.
    In that regard, there must always be some danger where there is a strong trade union presence. It’s a bit like a worker having two bosses. When management and unions start having safety arguments which tempt them into statements based on ‘politics’ rather than facts. They are doing nobody any good and safety could well be the loser.

  76. Malcolm,

    For what it is worth, I think timbeau has analysed and summarised the situation correctly regarding the law and duty of care despatching a train. It is a reminder of just how important this issue is and we owe it to the people in the front line to provide every reasonable assistance in enabling them to do their job.

    I think the duty of care and the duty to protect people from their own stupid actions is now set at a high threshold and may get even higher. Whether on not this should be the case is more general question that leads to an emotive argument that is more suited to the pub than here.

  77. ngh says:

    Re Two penny tube,

    The force majure clause is limited to 8 days per year without further sign off from the SoS or appropriate minister. Hence GTR’s trip to the high court to stop 24hour strikes over 2 days which would have eaten up the 8 days rather quickly. I suspect DfT are willing to tolerate rather more than 8 but would prefer not to.

  78. Sad Fat Dad says:

    PoP @ 1047. ROCs are not capable of backing each other up, at least not for signalling equipment.

    Re SWT. You can bet your last penny that the ITT for the new franchise will specify conversion to a DOO railway. SWT has around 800 guards; multiply that by annual salary +70% for shift premiums, overtime, company pension and NI contributions, plus the ‘back office’ functions required to employ this small army, and it is some serious wedge.

    On the subject of SWT there are a number of busy stations (Vauxhall for example) where CCTV platform monitors are now provided for the guards to be able to get a better view of the full length of busy platforms. They are positioned on the platform adjacent to the mid cab point of the trains. Why would a guard viewing a monitor be any safer than a driver viewing a monitor?

  79. Sad Fat Dad says:

    And another thing (alright, two).

    1) I don’t think it has been mentioned; historically since the initial Bed-Pan difficulty, DOO disputes have always been with the RMT. ASLEF have argued a bit, but then just taken the cash on offer. Last year howeve, the brothers at ASLEF joined their brothers at RMT and reached a joint agreement that there would be no further application of DOO. Hence this dispute is the first test of that agreement.

    2) the RMT have more to lose in this, literally. It has around 80,000 members, and notwithstanding its claim to be a fast growing union, it had 90,000 members last time I had dealings with them half a decade ago. The concentration of signallers into ROCs has lost the RMT around 1000 members in the last few years, with more going in the next few. Removing guards from, say, all commuter operations and replacing with one third the number of revenue inspectors would lose another couple of thousand members. Added to which, new entrants to the rail workforce are much less likely to join a union than their colleagues were a generation ago.

    This all points to a notable reduction in RMT membership, which translates to a notable reduction in RMT income. Part of this is a fight for the union itself.

    (As an aside, it did strike me as ironic when the RMT downsized a few years ago, and promptly made a number of its staff redundant on minimum notice.)

  80. Malcolm says:

    SFD says “This all points to a notable reduction in RMT membership, which translates to a notable reduction in RMT income.”

    All very true, but I feel inclined to point out that there can be more than one motive for a union to strive against decreases in its membership. These would include the venal one of (fewer members) -> (less cash coming in), but they would also include that rather more noble motivation that (fewer members) -> (less influence, so less chance to stand up for the rights of remaining members).

    This is all theoretical of course. I don’t know the union’s actual motives.

  81. Alex says:

    I’m sure there are reasons that elude a mere commuter such as myself, but I find the role of platform staff on London Underground a confusing one. I would always assume TfL are providing these staff for good reason.

    The platform staff hold up a baton when the train is safe to depart. What do they do if they determine this situation has now changed? They lower their baton I assume, but they would also do this when the train has departed anyway…would a driver actually halt the train if they could not see the baton anymore? Is there another way for the platform staff to signal a dangerous situation to the train driver? When I read the RAIB report into the Clapham South Northern Line Incident (passenger dragged under a train) it would appear not.

    On the Jubilee, there are sometimes platform staff in the morning with a baton at North Greenwich despite their being PEDs. At Stratford station Jubilee platforms, I’ve never seen platform staff with batons.

  82. Briantist (in Gigabit internet heaven) says:

    Very interesting summation of the rather strange situations with guards. It’s often interesting to see on the DLR that if unauthorised people have been seen track-side the Customer Experience Person will take control of the big red stop button in the panel at the front of the train.

    Which means … if you want to not have your Oyster card checked, get some mates to stroll onto the track for a bit near a CCTV camera.

    Back to the article

    “Which is better? A half hourly off-peak service with a guard at all times or a quarter hourly service with an on-board member of staff present some of the time?”

    I think we have learn from the Overground experience that it better to staff the stations and platforms, rather than the trains. It just seems much safer for customers/passengers.

    I think this is more true at stations where the ticket office is near the platforms (such as Hackney Wick) rather than flights of stairs away (Kentish Town West).

    With the Overground’s roving team of “revenue protection people” who jump on and off services, this does mean that there can and are “staff” on the trains for some of any longer trip.

  83. 100andthirty says:

    I have been out all day and apologise if some of the remarks that follow are out of sequence.

    * LU’s people with the bats are called “Station Assistants Train Service” (SATS). They are not dispatchers. The train operator has that responsibility. The SATS are there to help and are provided on a location by location basis

    * Curved Victoria line platforms can be both concave and convex. None of them are anything like as “bad” as Bank, Monument of Farringdon!

    * Apologies about “inciteful” It might have looked like a clever play on words, but it was just comparatively early and although it didn’t look quite right I was typing on something that didn’t highlight spelling errors.

    * Cameras on the train make life easy for the TOC. They don’t have to have an interface with a Network Rail system on the stations – imagine the fun and games if the interface had to be changed every time a new fleet was introduced. This is not an issue on the line-locked trains on LU. Equally, for tube trains, I don’t know where one would mount the camera.

    * Crossrail class 345 trains will have cab monitors and platform cameras. They have had to confront the interface issue mentioned above. This configuration is forced on them because of the platform edge doors. A clear view of the gap between the PEDs and the train (all that would be available from vehicle mounted cameras) wouldn’t be much use. So it was this solution or have two different systems on the trains.

    * LU trains keep an image of the platform on the train until the train has left the platform (more or less). This is about 15 seconds.

  84. Timbeau says:

    @sad fat dad

    A guard might be better at viewing a monitor because the driver also has to pay attention to the signals and the controls. But a despatcher on the platform with access to a stop button might be as good, or even better.

  85. TL driver says:

    Latecomer – 1039. Interesting that you have 4 seconds of monitor viewing available after leaving the station. When that point was raised on TL we were told that for the reasons you mention (distraction from other tasks, basically) that we would not be having this.

    We are also told that despite the better quality pictures available via platform monitors, we are not to use them for despatching our trains when driving 377/387 units. I always found this slightly perverse when I could see a much better image out of my side window but assumed that it was for the DOO extension argument to be fought. While it obviously has no bearing on TL it does to other parts of the franchise.

    And I should add that I do see the relevance and benefit of a guard on a train, just that when I have never worked with one it’s harder to see the argument that a train cannot be run safely without one. My comments are certainly not supposed to be inflammatory/inciteful if thats what Anonymous at 0750 was actually suggesting… Many colleagues have worked with guards onboard their trains in years gone by. But as I say, I have never worked under that system, so can only say it as I see it now.

  86. Anonymous says:

    It’s depressing that the introduction of DOO drags on and on, we seem to go through the same routine – the threat of Armageddon from the unions, a strike, followed by nothing much when it’s finally introduced (notice the complete non-event the closure of Underground ticket offices turned out to be), considering that in several areas the same type of train is already operated in DOO mode in one part of the south east, but requires a guard in another shows the level of farce.

    If the union already has members operating a similar type of train elsewhere in DOO mode, then they can’t reasonably claim that taking guards away and introducing DOO would be ‘unsafe’ (especially as we now have around 30 years’ worth of operating data), perhaps a bit of legislation to this effect could be introduced?, any strike action over this aspect would then leave the union liable to legal action, then we don’t have to go through the Groundhog Day routine.

  87. Mrs Redboots says:

    Ian R wrote: Do you think there may be a relationship between the extraordinarily high level of staffing on American commuter rail systems and the extraordinarily poor service frequency they provide?

    Indubitably! I don’t know the service frequencies between New York and its outer suburbs, though.

    And I used to enjoy travelling in the same carriage as the guard on the Northern Line, back in the day – always felt so much safer, especially at night. I actually made a point of travelling on the “last train with a guard” the day that service was withdrawn, as I minded rather!

    Someone further up says that Clapham High Street is not gated, but is staffed – I haven’t used it for some time, but many years ago it was neither staffed, nor were there any passenger announcements or screens telling you when the next train was. I miss the service to Victoria, but they really have done wonders – 35 years ago, there was a limited train service in peak hours and the station was known as the most run-down in London!

  88. quinlet says:

    I am interested to note that SouthEastern now places platform staff at the very front of the London bound platform at Sevenoaks during the morning peaks to help despatch the trains from a crowded platform. They frequently chat with the driver. This despite the fact that all the trains have guards. It would appear that neither a guard able to walk across the platform, nor platform staff in the middle of the platform nor push button RA displays are enough in that location. It would appear that it is not the existence of a guard which makes despatching better and safer but, to echo others, well staffed platforms.

  89. chrisk says:

    some unrelated comments

    – this article is mainly about the role of the Guard (and very interesting it was too), but in terms of a second member of staff on a train, this is something i feel is of value. the cost ‘per passenger’ will decrease as more passengers/carriages on a train. and the second person can help those with problems (mobility etc), provide advice, and help resolve issues on a busy line, where one train delayed for a minute can disrupt every train behind it.

    – I’m skeptical of how many trains Southern will run with a second member of staff, once the role of Guard has been removed. You don’t see any on the Gatwick Expresses any more. (aside, huge change in attitude in the company since it moved to the new franchise).

    – platform dispatch is another area where at times the value is questionable. Blackfriars is a good example. The staff often seem to lack any urgency, and the whole process is inefficient in terms of time: the dispatcher takes a look to check it is safe to close doors, strolls to the dispach buttons, there seems to be a delay between them pressing the button and the CD being shown, driver responds to CD, dispatcher walks back to be next to train, glances around, back to console, to press RA, again with a small delay.

  90. chrisk says:

    where the class 377 doors released by the guard when they started in service on Southern?
    I was a daily coastway east commuter at the time, and i don’t remember a delay between arriving in the station and the doors opening, such as you do with SWT and London Midland. so i presume the driver had always released the doors and the guard closed them?

    Guard releasing the doors really is frustrating thing, especially when running late!

  91. Alison says:

    The longer this thread gets, the more interesting I’m finding it. As ‘just’ a passenger with a previous belief that the point of guards was for safety purposes reading about the trials and tribulations of moving to DOO instead is, I will admit, slightly scary. Yes, like every other passenger around the world, I normally tend to ignore the possibility of ‘issues’ arising while I am sitting in my carriage, previously secure in the knowledge that there were experienced people responsible for my well-being. That there might be as little as only four seconds to check the gap remains is … disquieting.

    So far as locations like Farringdon are concerned, if the driver/responsible person can’t see a devoid-of-people-gap alongside the train then there either needs to be better equipment, authorised despatch staff on the platform, or PEDs of some sort to keep people clear.

    Guards, as I see it, are like constitutions and company incorporation documents; most of the time they aren’t really needed, but when they are they are _very_ important and necessary. If something happens to a 12-car train in the middle of nowhere, such as the driver becoming incapacitated, how are the passengers (sorry, ‘customers’) supposed to find out what is happening / what they should do?

    As an side, I was once returning from Germany to the UK by train through Belgium and the (peripatetic) guard spent most of the journey chatting me up. At one station I commented to him that we’d been stood still for quite some time, causing him to jump up and run to the door to wave his paddle to the driver!

  92. ChrisMitch says:

    On crowded rush hour trains where the cost per passenger of a 2nd member of train staff is lowest, this staff member will be of least use, as there will be too many passengers for him/her to be able to move freely through the train and offer assistance. It seems an alternative is to have more platform-based staff…

  93. ngh says:

    Re Sad Fat Dad @ 16:26

    Re SWT. You can bet your last penny that the ITT for the new franchise will specify conversion to a DOO railway. SWT has around 800 guards; multiply that by annual salary +70% for shift premiums, overtime, company pension and NI contributions, plus the ‘back office’ functions required to employ this small army, and it is some serious wedge.

    Indeed you won’t get much change from £45m for the total fully allocated guard cost at SWT. There was absolutely no incentive for any franchisee in SWT’s position to go DOO during a short direct award risk wise. I’d also expect the revenue support mechanism at SWT recalibrated out of existence so the next franchisee will be bit more incentivised to make changes.
    TfL will possibly want changes made from a potential 2019 start of involvement in the SWT metro routes and introducing better late and Sunday services if DOO were in place would be far easier for TfL to justify those improvements.
    The 707s shouldn’t need much (or any) modification to go DOO despite what SWT guards hope.
    [Note the presence of the bodyside DOO camera, a first for SWT on the first 707 heading from the factory to the test track in Germany recently: ]
    There is apparently already an exodus of SWT drivers and guards out of potential TfL controlled areas when vacancies come up further west. (Go west there is no TfL there…)

    With increased returns to DfT (£374m before NR grant allocation or £131m after) with operating cost reductions should help improve the justification for improvements especially infrastructure including the shopping list seen in LTPP documents.

    SWT is unique in being the only current franchsie to be gross contributor (e.g. after NR grant allocation) to DfT with most other franchise being ex-grant (“Net” in DfT terminology) contributors to DfT (if the NR grant allocation is ignored): GTR/TSGN, East Coast/ Virgin East Coast, c2c, Chiltern Railways, CrossCountry, East Midlands Trains, First Great Western, Greater Anglia, Virgin West Coast.

    During the current new-(ish) franchises that are early in their terms another 3 franchises will probably join SWT as gross contributors:
    GTR/TSGN, Virgin East Coast and C2C.
    (The new Anglia franchsie to be awarded soon post removal of LO and TfL rail metro services with some new/additional stock and some upgrades might also be a potential candidate depending how big the bidders are willing to bet!)

  94. ngh says:

    Re Chris Mitch,

    Indeed with more frequent service levels the economics also shifts from guard to platform staff being better value (cost /pax)…

    Re Alison,

    Newer stock will have the ability for signalling or control staff to talk to passengers over the PA system via the GSMR communications system that has recently been rolled out. (Cleaning staff should also not press the big red plunger labelled stop in the cabs on the GSMR units!)

    re chrisk,

    You are even less likely to see any 2nd staff member north of Gatwick after this summer when the new GatEx only entrance and gateline to/from P5/6 at Gatwick opens which means they can gate both ends of the VIC – GAT GatEx journeys and ensure no Southern passengers are on board (especially for Oyster purposes).

  95. alan bluemountains says:

    I thought transpennine express were expected to turn from being subdised to providing a return during the later part of the new franchise.
    sad fat dad 01June 1644. I feel a guard looking at a screen is more able to step onto the platform and resolve a problem than a driver is. At this point I must declare I am an old guard. Nice to see the last two topics are of more interest at least to people outside UK/London

  96. ngh says:

    Re Alan,
    TPE yes they should become a contributor on a NET basis later in the new franchise (currently 2months old) and the subsidy to Net contribution category of franchises wasn’t included in what I wrote above as that is effectively the next of the 2 groups I didn’t mention that currently require lots of subsidy on Net basis so are at least one step further away from braking even or better than the other listed. Heroic passenger and fare growth are required to get it to Gross contribution and the NR grant allocation will increase with all the cost of the Northern Powerhouse (inc electrification) works making this harder it is also potentially a very long way off.

  97. Ian J says:

    @ngh: another 3 franchises will probably join SWT as gross contributors:
    GTR/TSGN, Virgin East Coast and C2C

    The Thameslink Great Northern bit of TSGN was already a gross contributor in its days as First Capital Connect*, as was East Coast in its state-owned guise, which shows how much franchise profiles are backloaded. New franchisees come in promising to pay a large premium which is mainly in the later years of the franchise. In the early years subsidy is actually increased over the previous franchise but this is overlooked in all the promises over new trains, new services etc. Then the return to the Treasury ‘improves’ every year and everyone is happy.

    If the inner suburban bits of SWT are hived off to TfL then the remaining franchise should be even more lucrative for the government (and any losses on the inner suburban services would become TfL’s problem?).

    *In fact I am fairly sure Thameslink and Midland Mainline were for a while in Railtrack days pre-Hatfield.

  98. Greg Tingey says:

    Guards will ( or should be able to ) sell you a ticket if the station one got on at is:
    Ungated / ticket office closed / ticket machines broken / gates open & no-one visible.
    Many London termini have platform staff, or even fixed offices, for people wanting/needing to pay for their previous journey.
    There is a strong rumour circulating that the new “not-guards” on TSGN will not be able to do this – penalty fares only. If true, it’s a serious mistake.
    Remember a penalty fare / fine only applies under the condition(s) of carriage … “With intent to avoid payment” & not simply because you have not got a ticket, for perfectly valid reasons.

  99. Greg,

    Let’s wait and see. I suspect facts have got garbled.

    The Regulation of Railways Act 1899 puts the onus on the passengers to purchase a ticket (obviously contactless credit cards weren’t in the forefront on legislative thinking then). This must be done at the first practical opportunity. So if the ticket machine is out of order and you know the train has someone who sells tickets aboard (but how would you?) then technically the onus is on you to approach them and not vice versa.

    Penalty fare regulations, as far as I am aware, merely provide an opportunity to substitute penalty fares for criminal prosecutions. You can always appeal against them and refuse to pay the penalty fare (but give name and address and proof of that) but agree to pay the proper fare.

    I believe that if someone claims a ticket machine is out of order then this is generally checked if possible by a phone call. Modern systems may even have the machines reporting themselves out of order.

    If you can’t pay for any reason (e.g. ticket machine out of order) and you really want to put yourself in an unarguable position then take a photo on your phone. If you really are paranoid send it to the company so they can’t dispute the facts – it doesn’t matter if your email/tweet gets rejected as you still have proof of when it was sent.

  100. ngh says:

    Re Ian J,

    “The Thameslink Great Northern bit of TSGN was already a gross contributor in its days as First Capital Connect*,”

    But those figures show FCC received a gross subsidy from DfT of 14.1m in the latest data covering the end of the FCC era, the apparent backwards step from contribution in previous FY will have been due to the Thameslink diversions away from London Bridge and the increased level of disruption taking it toll (more stock and drivers required).

    If you read the GTR remedial plan released last week it is very obvious the under investment (driver employment + training and rolling stock maintenance) through most of the FCC franchise had taken place so there were a large number of chickens coming home to roost more recently. [7 of 8 points in the exec summary finger point at FCC and there is plenty of previous commentary on LR about this under investment]

  101. ngh says:

    Re Greg,

    But they will be far more enforcement at station with longer staffing hours so the opportunities to not purchase a ticket will diminish with at least another 20+ stations being gated shortly

  102. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    @quinlet ([email protected]:22): Where is the guard on the slow trains to CHX/CST? Only the trains to/from the coast have guards….

  103. Sad Fat Dad says:

    The point about station staff vs on board staff is an interesting one. If I recall correctly, the DLR was intended to be unattended on the train, with station staff doing the dispatch and pressing a plunger to close doors and right away. However at system opening, there were more stations than trains, so it was cheaper to put people on the trains! Not sure if this is the case any more.

  104. timbeau says:

    There is also the point that if the staff are on the train, you can be certain that there will be a member of staff present every time a train needs to be dispatched. If they are on the stations, there may not be – the member of staff may be elsewhere on the station, for example dispatching a train going the other way.

    “At system opening, there were more stations than trains. Not sure if this is the case any more.”
    Acccording to Mr Wiki, the DLR has 45 stations (some of which, like Canning Town and Stratford, would be difficult for one person to manage on their own) and 149 cars, which usually run in threes, so about 50 trains, including maintenance cover.

    The idea of gross contributors has to be taken with a pinch of salt – are they truly paying for all the infrastructure costs incurred by NR necessary for running their services? But it does raise a question – the premiums paid to the government by such operators, which ultimately come from fare revenue, are essentially a tax. And why should customers of different companies be taxed at different rates?

  105. ngh says:

    Re SFD,

    Staff on stations / platforms vs train GTR probably have circa 250 trains (of which circa 100 have guards on SN branded services) in service at any one time during the rushhours and the busiest stations already have station and/ or platform staff. As service levels are increased overall from 2018 (to circa 270-280 in peak hour service) after the LBG works and additional “Moorgate” replacement stock then the value in revenue collection definitely shift even further towards station based revenue collection and enforcement. Govia will have good evidence of this from their last round of gating and station staffing increase exercise. The South London out of gated hours revenue blocks at stations now tend to have 12+staff inc BTP due to the level of avoidance at times (when they think they can get away with it) increasing the gated hours to the full circa 19 as planned will help this. It shows that with current passenger levels on train enforcement via guards is drop in the ocean. The is plenty of anecdotes from the Redhill lines services on high local avoidance levels.

  106. ngh says:

    RE Timbeau,

    If enough franchises get to gross contribution status NR might then be able to disappear from the HMT balance sheet (again) and it won’t be a Tax 😉 The government will merely be supporting services in economically disadvantaged area in the country (ditto Welsh and Scottish Governments).

    Also see the NR funding report thinking on routing NR grants via TOCs to avoid NR being so close to the government.

  107. Andrew S says:

    machorne – “quite an interesting activity that sometimes had unexpected consequences”. A topic for an article on your website perhaps?

  108. Graham H says:

    @timbeau/ngh – “If enough franchises get to gross contribution status NR might then be able to disappear from the HMT balance sheet (again) and it won’t be a Tax ” – ‘fraid not… Let me introduce you to the concept of the positive EFL (I believe it has a different acronym these days). The impact on the national accounts is just the same as a negative EFL but with the cash flow making a positive contribution to government finance. Remember, governments run on cash, not accruals, so more cash in means lower taxes (or a smaller deficit to be financed). For many years, the Post Office (and in earlier days, BA) ran positive EFLs which offset the need to raise taxes. So, no escape: once you’re in the public sector, whatever you do ultimately counts as public expenditure. Fares are a tax, therefore.

  109. IslandDweller says:

    @POP. You have a more generous view of TSGN and the penalty fare regime than I. There are many instances already of TSGN attempting to issue penalty fares to people using the wrong “brand” of ticket on their trains. (The issue being that the fare rules allow fares to be set by route and/or by operator – but not by brand. As TSGN is legally one company / one franchise with Thameslink, Express and Southern now only brand names and not legal entities/franchise holders, their policy of charging different fares by brand is on very shaky ground).

  110. Old Buccaneer says:

    Graham H: in the BA case, surely now the fare is payment for a service and Air Passenger Duty (APD) is the tax? I accept that when BA was in Government hands its income was fungible with the Government’s.

    APD is the thin end of a big wedge. Rail passenger duty, anyone?

  111. IslandDweller says:

    @OldBuchaneer. Far be it from me to cast aspersions about GrahamH’s age, but I thought his comment related to the dim distant days when BA (and BOAC/BEA predecessors) was government owned?

  112. Graham H says:

    @OB – yes,indeed – once you flog it off, its revenue ceases to count against HMG cash flow.

    There is/was a parallel debate about charging VAT on public transport fares. BR had a wholly weird position that the effect would be neutral because so far as business travel was concerned, the passengers would claim the extra back anyway and everything else was subsidised. Even back in the ’80s that seemed to be a stupid argument which ignored the reality of different sorts of IC traveller and the likelihood of the Treasury giving up a new source of revenue. In the Department, we told the relevant Policy Unit’s manager’s* Director to sit on him firmly. Nowadays,the srguments would be different -slightly.

    *A gentleman nicknamed by my more unimpressed colleagues as the Bearded Wonder

  113. Pedantic of Purley says:


    Not at all. I am merely pointing out the legal position. Railway companies are free to offer cheaper fares and to apply (within reason) whatever conditions they like to those cheaper tickets. If you breach those conditions then it is as if you have no ticket.

    Sometimes they are harsh about that. I have made no comment on whether I think the companies are being reasonable on the way they handle these situations. At least one well-known industry insider has criticised the approach taken.

    In the past discounted fares have been offered to those carrying teddy bears, those with children (to the extent it was cheaper for two people to travel with children than without) and (before the Sex Discrimination Act) to women with a time restriction of not being available before nine thirty in the morning – shopper’s tickets. Insisting on trains being run by one company and not another (even if in the same group of companies) when buying a cheaper ticket is legitimate – even if, as you imply, it is completely nonsensical which is a different issue.

  114. EFL External Finance Limit, set by the Treasury.

  115. Greg Tingey says:

    Let’s wait and see. I suspect facts have got garbled.
    With that, I am in total agreement ……
    Also true, but I remember coming back from either Roydon or Audley End (I think the former) – no staff, ticket machine not working permit-to-travel machine not working.
    I still got a hard time at Tottie Hale – admittedly this was several years ago ( 10+ )
    And, yes, the number of time this is going to happen should diminish

  116. ngh says:

    Re PoP & Greg,

    I suspect the garbling may have something to do with the revenue protection inspectors (RPIs) also being transferred to the On-Board Supervisor (OBS) grade leading to 2+2=5 as RPIs only issue penalty fares therefore OBS will too…

  117. Latecomer says:

    @T!l Driver – I too have never worked with a guard and I do, in spite of sharing some of your concerns also echo your view that DOO is generally a safe method of working, and I believe incidents relating to the PTI reflect that.

    That said I certainly wouldn’t be comfortable if my monitors went blank as soon as I moved. From the occurrences where I have brought my train to a stand it has normally been due to the deliberate actions of someone intoxicated who has taken the chance that I have seen them. Whilst I may have stopped my train due to them I don’t re-release the doors even if still in the platform. Blunt words or a continuing delay normally mean the wrath of other passengers is enough for them to retire sheepishly to a safe distance. However, it does raise the issue that if the public believe the driver can see them then such behaviour is likely to continue. God forbid the occasion that someone slips and it has not been seen because the cameras are off, by the time a pass comm is pulled (if it is pulled) it is probably way too late.

    It would help if we had some means of communicating with people causing issues on the platform via speakers on the outside of the train. Perhaps tapping on the image where we see a problem could open up communication with people near that specific set of doors?

    DOO is here to stay so I’m all about improving what we have, be it wider angle cameras, upgraded glare resistant monitors, sensibly coloured shirts! I’m all for it. I do understand that if someone’s actions are truly negligent then there should be some form of sanction or penalty, however, whether drivers have the sufficient tools to do their job that adequately mitigate most of the risks present is, to my mind, an open question. On my routes I do something between 15 to 20 thousand station stops a year (some of them far from ‘easy’. What might that total over a career? How many people can carry out a task 600,000 times and get it right every time? Who will support us on the occasion that we don’t? Only our union I suspect.

  118. Old Buccaneer says:

    IslandDweller: yup, hence “now” in my remarks.
    Graham H: surely publicly owned industry revenue counts ‘towards’ government cash flow? Or is public finance even more Byzantine & back to front than I thought?

    I guess the Bearded Wonder had been an economist in a previous life?

    I’m still struggling with ‘a fare is a tax’ but I won’t bore the rest of you with it!

  119. alan bluemountains says:

    I would have thought a fare was a charge for a service provided, not a tax per se

  120. IslandDweller says:

    @POP. You are talking about promotional tickets and “advances”, which I agree can be restricted in all sorts of ways. My comments were about TSGN attempting to apply brand restrictions on anytime and off-peak fares, which can be specific to a franchise holder (TSGN) but cannot be restricted by “brand” (such as “thameslink”).

  121. Timbeau says:

    A fare is indeed a charge for a service provided, but if the government takes a cut of that charge, isn’t that a tax?

  122. Rational Plan says:

    When I commuted to Richmond/Wandsworth/Putney from Wraysbury I got very used to the vagaries of SWT, system. Wraysbury is unmanned and in the past all it had was a permit to ride machine. You used to be able to buy a ticket from the guard.

    They then installed flashy touch screen machines (STANDING IN THE OPEN AIR) and at the moment the guards refused to payment for tickets. The problem was that touch screen ticket machines become useless in the rain or the cold.

    On the ticket machines is a helpline number and whenever I had a problem I phoned them and they contacted the ticket barrier people at the station and the guard on the train. So I usually had no problems at the excess ticket barrier at Richmond.

    Eventually they realised their mistake and erected a little perspex hut above the tiaket machine, which only left it vulnerable to the worst storms.

  123. quinlet says:

    The argument that any money paid to the Government is a tax is used by the US and other governments in refusing to pay the congestion charge (as diplomats are exempt from all taxes by convention), but they have yet to have the nerve to use that argument to refuse to pay some (or, in the case of TSGN, all) rail fares on the same basis. Personally, I think that exposes an argument which is somewhat absurd where there as a clear and indisputable link between income and expenditure. It becomes rather more debatable where the income is just swallowed up by the Treasury.

  124. Graham H says:

    @quinlet -as,for the purposes of managing the state’s revenue,is the case with all net revenues from state-owned activities. Worse,a failure to tax is – according to certain Treasury dogma – a subsidy… [When I drew attention to the Dialogus de Scaccario as the basic source of Treasury doctrine,I wasn’t entirely joking…]

  125. NickBxn says:

    Very interested to see the driver views on being ok with DOO. It has certainly made the North London Line service feel a lot snappier. Much as I liked having the guard within the passenger area in the early days of LOROL operation, the dwell times made for quite a dawdling rate of progress. The time between the pressing the initial door close and the train moving was consistently 8 seconds, plus a few more for those who stood a couple of paces away out on the platform while checking. I haven’t checked, but my impression is that it has knocked about 5 minutes off the end to end times. As for ambience, the platform staff make for equal reassurance.

    On people who try to force the doors, I’m amazed they still bother to try with current trains. It’s not like in the days of CO/CP stock, when each leaf could be forced back about 5 inches – just enough to get my way with a double door.

    re. Latecomer above: German U-Bahn trains allow drivers to speak over an an external train mounted PA. Simple, but effective. I always feel it’s half hearted in London when any extra ‘stand clear’ message from the driver is directed only within the train rather than to those on the platform.

    Intersting clip of London Bridge in the strike (I have never seen so many people standing within swiping distance of slam doors, and the first time I have seen no such doors being opened early on a train pulling in there) It’s a reminder of when guards had to nip along the platform to deal with doors that people had left open – one task that doesn’t exist anymore.

  126. Latecomer says:

    Yes indeed Nick Bxn, although there is a fair list of things which could be done to improve DOO both in the cab and on the platform.

    The case as to whether I would prefer having another member of safety critical staff on board in the event of an emergency is a slightly easier one to answer. There is a tension between carry out necessary duties in the cab or on the track and attempting to communicate effectively with passengers to help prevent high risk actions such as egress. If a train has lost power and gone into load shed the PA system becomes inoperable after a period of time. Dealing with those situations alone is unenviable.

  127. Londoner says:

    But the PA ought to be held up for quite some time, for exactly the reason.

    I believe on the newer LU vehicles the more important items (e.g. Radio) can be powered for a couple of hours. (things like HVAC and non-emergency lighting obviously drop off fairly soon).

    New national rail vehicles should have plenty more space for emergency batteries, so should be better than LU vehicles.

  128. Pedantic of Purley says:


    That is recognised now but the importance wasn’t really appreciated when some of the older stock still around was built.

    For Crossrail even the air-conditioning should work for 90 minutes on battery power alone – and that is one of the first things to go.

  129. 100andthirty says:

    PoP…..Are you sure that the class 345 air conditioning will run for 90 mins on battery power? That would need a seriously large battery. It is usual to dump the air conditioning but retain a significant forced ventilation capability fed from the battery.

  130. Pedantic of Purley says:

    No, but it was what I was told by Howard Smith, Operations Manager at Crossrail. People have been known to get things wrong before (or they turn out to be an unfulfilled aspiration).

  131. Twopenny Tube says:

    Nick Bxn: “It’s a reminder of when guards had to nip along the platform to deal with doors that people had left open – one task that doesn’t exist anymore.”

    … Along with handling and looking after parcels, luggage, bikes etc in the ‘Guard’s Van’.

  132. BobW says:

    Nice pictures from the in-cab monitors, shame it was a nice bright day, which we don’t have very often, when it is pouring down the in-cab monitors are virtually useless.

  133. RT says:

    A quiet revolution took place the other weekend, when control was shifted from (the rumoured militant) Sheffield PSB to York ROC under Network Rail’s signalling modernisation plans. This resulted in 5 jobs signaller’s job per shift, being merged into 2.

    Contrast this with the flying fur, spit and bearing of teeth in the GTR dispute over DOO, one could have the mistaken belief a different union were involved.

    Perhaps change is a way of life for the signalling grade, whereas Guards have been relatively protected over the years, dispute a massive adjustment in their role on today’s MAS signalled, multiple union railway, mostly fully track-circuited, GSM-R connected railway.

    With transport facing increasing automation, the rate of change over the next 20-30 years is likely to be similar to changes in the 50s, 60s and 70s, when steam and mechanical signalling was rapidly disappearing. More ROCs, ERTMS Level 2,3 and even 4, with ATO perhaps becoming the norm on an ever more congested and environmentally aware railway. Unattended train operation (UTO) may even find its way onto metro systems, airport links and branch lines.

    The unions know this and not only smell blood in the air, but a sense of power slipping away. Striking may well become a way of life; the unwitting passenger caught in the middle. It was reported just the other day a man has lost his job on Southern territory after three train cancellations.

    The regulator needs to get more involved with protecting passengers not just from strikes and cost inflation (which includes wages inflation and poor productivity) but providing independent statistics to passengers, come clean on which TOCs and lines are likely to be next in line.

    Whether we go down the road of binding arbitration with railway industrial unions or opening up job markets to completion and performance, there’s no point in hiding from the fact change is inevitable and cool heads are required from all sides. Sheffield is perhaps the model rather than GTR guards.

  134. Latecomer says:

    I don’t think there’s much poor productivity in the driver grade these days, not in metroland anyway. Quite the reverse. Most of our current concerns relate to fatigue and safety rather than pay. Unfortunately when negotiations occur these days there is a tendency to sell things off for an enhanced pay deal. It’s not a position that I personally agree with.

  135. Northern Len says:

    It’s useful to get the driver perspective as I think front-line expertise is often overlooked. If DOO becomes accepted we shouldn’t have a broad brush approach and perhaps regulatory bodies without commercial interests should be involved in assessing requirements for each site/line (eg, number of platform staff needed or the particular standard and level of equipment).
    The other concern is that this battle fought in the capital has ramifications elsewhere. In more rural areas I have often seen the guard very actively helping customers with information and assistance–particularly during disruption when connections become uncertain. They have the ability to phone ahead, inform controllers of the need, and get a connecting train held (if appropriate!) or arrange taxis from unstaffed stations, and provide reassurance. Once the ‘need’ for the guard is taken away, the commercial approach could remove the additional staff as data shows low revenue protection need on those services. The customer with no phone signal, no smartphone, no staff to consult could only contact the driver or, most likely, get stranded. Therefore, an important role of the guard/conductor gets overlooked. Often it seems, the commercially led approach to ‘efficiency’ is not countered by the commercial pressure of customers voting with their feet against diminished service because they have no other option.

  136. 100andthirty says:

    PoP 0833. I have checked with an authoritative source. I am being positive about what Howard Smith said to you as he is a first class and well respected manager. He might have said that “the HVAC continues to work for 90 mins after loss of the 25kV.” If we take it that the HVAC includes Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (which it does in all the specifications I read) then Howard is strictly right. In these circumstances, the HVAC system will continue to run, but only in “emergency ventilation” mode fed from the train batteries . No heating, no air conditioning! (and way off topic)

  137. timbeau says:

    ” It was reported just the other day a man has lost his job on Southern territory after three train cancellations.”

  138. Matt says:


    There is no requirement for a TOC to prove intent to avoid payment in order to issue a penalty fare (note the absence of such a requirement in section 6 of the Penalty Fares Rules). Proving intent to avoid payment is a requirement for a prosecution for fare evasion under section 5(3)(a) of the Regulation of Railways Act 1889, but not for issuing a penalty fare.

    It is not allowed, as you point out, for RPIs to issue penalty fares if the passenger boarded at a station with (at the time) no facilities to purchase a ticket (or other authority to travel). ‘The gates were open’, however, is very unlikely to save you from a penalty fare if the station had working ticket machines.

  139. Malcolm says:

    Matt: Worse than that. I strongly suspect that if the ticket machine is working, but unable to issue exactly the ticket you require, then you are obliged to buy whatever it can offer (or choose not to travel). I experienced this when unable to get my advance purchased ticket, and had to buy another (more expensive) and get the cheaper one refunded later.

  140. Twopenny Tube says:

    Thanks to timbeau for the link to the story about the unfortunate experience of the man who lost his temporary placement, and it seems main source of income, due to train cancellations. I was not aware of the story, but it came as no surprise to me that there was no mention of unions or industrial action in the explanations given for the situation. My reading of RT’s contribution to this most interesting and thought-provoking discussion, and the context in which the Croydon story was mentioned, was that there was more than a whiff of anti-union prejudice being aired.

    It is impossible to discuss the guard/driver/DOO issue thoroughly without a mention of unions, however I feel that RT has not been the only contributor to be guilty of straying into unjustified territory by using it as open season to criticise unions in general, by directly stated opinions or by inferences.

    I trust there are plenty of LR readers and contributors, like me for instance, who could say plenty about the positive impact of trade unions, and could stray off-topic to general issues of how the law already gives, or potentially could give, unions, in transport or any other sphere (e.g. temporary workers such as Coulsdon-man?), too much, or not enough influence, and might (or might not) be considered to put more than enough cards in the hands of employers.

    To echo the sentiments of another recent contributor on another theme, I suggest that is a discussion for the pub, not the forum.

  141. Malcolm says:

    Twopenny Tube says “..a discussion for the pub, not the forum”.

    Yes, absolutely.

    To amplify slightly, there is no ban here on allowing one’s feelings about unions in general to show in the comment where this comment is mainly about something else. What has not yet occurred, and we will be watching for quite carefully, is comments which are only displays of the poster’s views on unions. Such comments may be removed without warning.

  142. AA says:

    Re PoP @ 15.35, 1 June
    …… I would imagine mind will soon focus on the problem when they attempt to run 24tph and they have the London Assembly Transport Committee on their back asking why timekeeping on Thameslink is so poor.

    I attended a lecture on The Art of Boarding and Alighting of Trains given by Professor Nick Tyler, Professor of Civil Engineering at UCL to the IMechE Railway Division (November 2015). He explained the research undertaken by the Accessibility Research Group. This research from various tests undertaken at the laboratory at Tufnell Park has established that boarding and alighting trains in stations is critical to the system capacity, and that high capacity depends on good design of trains and platforms. Professor Tyler was emphatic when he stated that the planned 24 trains per hour service on Thameslink was not achievable.

    The 24 tph requires ATO in the central core section (London Bridge to St Pancras) and the timings are based on a 45 second wheel stop to wheel start time. Allowing for door opening and closing time, the doors will only be fully open for 30-35 seconds, which could be insufficient for a significant number of passengers on a fully loaded train to alight and a similar number to board through the two sets of doors on a Class 700 coach. If drivers are instructed to close the doors after a set dwell time in order to maintain punctuality and before all passengers have alighted or boarded, this will lead to passengers holding the doors open to allow other passengers to board. Elsewhere on this thread it is mentioned that Thameslink trains will be self-dispatch at the central core stations – a few seconds on the dwell time at each station will have a significant cumulative effect during the peak hours.

    Farringdon may well become the Achilles heel of Thameslink, in that the narrow platforms at the north end might restrict the dispersal of alighting passengers from moving towards the exit from the platform before the arrival of the following train. With the opening of Crossrail/Elizabeth Line Farringdon will be busier as an interchange, and more passengers will have luggage if travelling to the airports, again extending dwell times. Many TOCs recognise the need for extended dwell times in the timetables for all trains stopping at major stations. On another thread congestion on the Victoria Line at Walthamstow Central was discussed, and that it is essential for passengers to get onto the escalators before the next influx coming off the following train.

    Another factor that may increase congestion at the central core Thameslink stations is the nature of the planned service. The service frequency to most stations will be 4 tph or less – just 2 tph on some routes, resulting in significant average waiting times for most passengers. Unlike at the London terminals where passengers can wait on a relatively spacious concourse with retail, food and other facilities before the platform is shown for their train, at Thameslink stations they will be waiting on the platforms with limited or no facilities, thereby restricting movement of other passengers along the platforms. Should passengers be encouraged to take the first available train going some way towards their destination and change en route? This might relieve congestion from waiting passengers at the central core stations, but at the cost of additional boarding and alighting movements.

    So what will happen in 2018 if (or more likely when) the UCL research findings are confirmed in practice and the full 24 tph Thameslink service cannot be achieved? Probably plenty of red faces at the Department of Transport who have specified both the Thameslink project and the design of the Class 700 trains, the first suburban trains to have fixed 8 and 12 car formations (apart from S stock). With a reduced service running and/or cancellations to achieve reliability (shades of the over-ambitious service attempted at the London Bridge terminal platforms?), there will be expensive trains standing idle for much of the day, and they will be less than ideal for use elsewhere on the network.

  143. Sussex commuter says:

    I agree with the sentiments previously expressed about the usefulness of guards for customers who don’t have access to smartphones etc. I usually travel on the fast Portsmourth/Bognor to VIC train from Horsham, which passes through Gatwick – the guard has two issues, one of a large amount of tourists having difficulty with the line and where to make connections etc. and in the return direction, they have to make sure people are aware of the train splitting at Horsham. During off-peak times there is usually a guard walking along checking everyone is in the right carriage which is probably helpful to a lot of people who don’t seem to regularly get the train and thus don’t know front and rear.

    Another plus of having guards (from my PoV) is the usefulness of being able to sprint to Littlehaven station when in a rush to catch the slow HRH-London Bridge train, where the ticket machine is almost ALWAYS out of order (either really slow connection, weather issues as previosuly detailed or just not working, and if it is, there is often a long queue as the train pulls in)! Here having a guard on the train helps, as I’ve normally noticed at least 2 other people who do the same as me each time (as well a few people who regularly don’t pay and jump gates – saw this behaviour at Horsham recently too, worrying if this is becoming a trend). Obviously having the guard/conductor on the train is useful for this purpose, but I wonder if there were more machines at even the smaller stations whether this would then cut out the need for a guard if people could access tickets quicker (although upkeep of the machines would also be useful).

  144. Jim elson says:

    Re AA’s Prof,or AA himself,saying Thameslink wheel stop to wheel start time of 45 secs will only allow door fully open fir 30 secs.
    Ride the Bakerloo line,the Train Ops are brilliant. Doors open the moment the wheel stops & the train notches up & squeaks off the instant the doors close. The same on the new auto Vic.
    The Northern used to be like that till it went automatic & it is now painfully slow at door opening once stopped.
    So it can be done if it’s the Vic system & not the Northern backward step. I reckon Thameslink doors will be full open for 42 secs of the 45 if a Vic comparable system is being used.

  145. Sad Fat Dad says:

    Re AA (and Prof Tyler). A logical argument, but rather academic if you will excuse the pun.

    The 24tph timetable is based on 60 second dwells St Pancras – Blackfriars, and 90 seconds at London Bridge. The timetable works reasonably well with 60 second dwells today, and the new trains will have doors that are almost 50% wider (as well as around half the services having 50% more doors).

  146. 100andthirty says:

    Jim elson

    Even if the doors start to move the instant the wheels stop turning and the wheels start moving the instant the last doo closes – not likely to happen in practice – the door open close sequence will take about 9 seconds even with the best door system. This is made up of:

    Door open alert plus doors start to move; doors fully open after 2.5 seconds.
    Door close sounder starts; doors start to close after 3 seconds and are fully closed after 6.5 seconds.

    These times are based on a) the legal duty to provide the doors closed sound for a minimum of 3 seconds and b) open and close times based on typical modern door systems complying with international standards for train door systems.

  147. Graham H says:

    @130 – and the rest – Bombardier identified 17 processes to go through on each door cycle when designing their TLK proposal (unfortunately I didn’t keep a list) – there seemed to be a lot of cross-checks.

  148. Sad Fat Dad says:

    It is something like:

    Wheels stop
    ‘System’ detects wheels stop
    ‘System’ confirms platform location, length and side (via beacon and GPS)
    Doors released
    Doors switched to open (either auto or by passenger)
    Door opening.


    Driver checks movement authority available
    Driver checks boarding process complete
    Driver initiates door closure procedure
    Hustle alarms sound
    Doors closure starts
    Doors close
    Doors confirm to ‘system’ they are closed and locked
    Traction interlock released
    Driver checks and confirms all doors closed and clear
    Driver presses ‘ready to start’ buttons
    Brakes release
    Power taken
    Wheels roll.

    I make that 21. Although some are done concurrently.

  149. Graham H says:

    @SFD – something like that, although there’s another set of alarms for the door opening event (and I’m not sure that Bombatranz counted the boarding and alighting as events). Trouble is that most events occupy a second or two, hence the delays on opening up. (How we in SWTland envy those speedy door openings on SC!)

  150. Phil says:

    Re Sussex commuter

    I fear you are making the same mistake as many others and confusing the role of a ‘Guard’ (which has absolutely nothing to do with checking / selling tickets or making public announcements) and a ‘Conductor’ who does precisely that but has no responsibility for doors or the safety of the train in an emergency etc.

    What you have at present on Southern services outside London are, strictly speaking ‘Conductor guards’ which as its name suggest combines two very distinct roles – operating the doors, giving the diver the right away as a Guard AND checking tickets / providing passenger information as a Conductor.

    What Southern wish to do is get rid of the ‘Guard’ role – they are on record as saying this will not mean the wholesale removal of on train staff so in most cases there will still be a ‘conductor’ on board to do everything you mention.

  151. Anonymous says:

    Ah that word “efficiency”.
    As we move towards having stations without staff, tickets offices and trains with just a driver, how is say a disabled person in a wheelchair going to board a train by themselves? that’s assuming they could get onto to the plaform of course. Is the train driver going to get out of the cab and help the wheelchair bound person on board the train? and then get out of the cab when that person arrives at the station? No, of course not. Disabled people don’t seem to feature in these plans. Yes, most stations have staff, sometimes. But increasingly they don’t.

  152. Northern Len says:

    Re Phil

    My observation of the second staff member on many trains is that they fulfil the guard role of closing the doors and signalling to depart, but could either check/sell tickets and help passengers or stay hidden away in the rear cab. Either of these can occur on the same route and journey. Therein lies confusion as to the extent of the role. If the job changes wholesale to the conductor role it would be unhelpful to passengers who are most likely to need help if the conductor was only present in weekday peaks. The Southern pledge doesn’t feel sufficiently reassuring that there will be staff around when they are needed.

  153. Phil Sayer (Resurrected) says:

    “Such comments may be removed without warning.”
    Like unattended cases or parcels?

  154. Anonymous Pedant says:

    @Anonymous at 00:21 and others
    Without wishing to veer off-topic, the eternal drive for “efficiency” (and its evil twin “innovation”) stems from the insatiable need for economic growth which is driven by the global system of finance capitalism, whereby all expenditure eventually originates as a loan requiring a rate of interest to be paid, most likely via a spiral of economic middle men who are all taking a cut.
    As such, you may as well be complaining about the laws of physics.

  155. Anonymous says:

    We have to view the current enthusiasm for DOO in context. We are currently living in a bubble of DOO complacency. By sheer chance, we’ve been lucky enough not to have had a terrible accident that was directly exacerbated by DOO. For example: driver incapacitated and unable to press emergency button on GSMR/pax restless & confused/egress pulled/pax spill out onto adjacent track/much loss of life when pax mown down by another train. The rule book is written in blood, and the requisite blood had not yet been spilled, but it will be. It would be so nice to be proactive rather than reactive for once.

  156. TL driver says:

    Latecomer 3rd June makes very valid points again.

    I would reiterate his comments that in metro land (or outer metro land) driver productivity is actually good. While the line “service cancelled due to driver shortage” is oft used, its not for the want of trying by control and other drivers doing the maximum work they can. I will happily accept I am well remunerated. I like to see improvements against fatigue from those early starts and repetitive workload. While I have few days where I get as near as Latecomer’s station stop numbers, days of 120+ stops are not unheard of. Completing a task that many times a day as fatigue creeps in brings very real risks with It. When you add in other distractions and unpredictable passengers at busy platforms, im genuinley surprised and thankful that the rate of severe injury isnt higher. That said, i remain in support of DOO but would like the public to be more aware of the risks they take with it in relation to closing doors etc though I happily think im preaching to the converted on that topic here.

    It is annoying not being able to communicate with people outside on the platform from inside the cab. Only yesterday i had a train with a whole coach locked out. It seems passengers failed to notice the bright red “doors not in use” lights ( i feel regular commuters would have done though) or the announcements and screens saying front coach locked out of use. I ended up having to shout out of the cab window which isnt ideal on a class 387 train as you can’t open the window without leaving the seat and walking round it, folding it and then sliding the window down. And obviously when the locked out coach was at the rear on my return journey this became useless. My dwell time at Gatwick was even longer than usual as a result. So to summarise, being able to speak to passengers outside the train would be good.

    I also need to correct an earlier error on my part. I spent yeaterday studying my monitors and platform monitors closer and actually noticed that the in cab monitors **do** give a wider angle platform of view than platform monitors. However, because they are mounted on the train the quality of footage as you move away from the side of the train diminshes rapidly to people looking like specks on the screen (not helped by the small screens). The platform monitors are centred a little further away fron the edge of the train giving a much better view of the PTI. Certainly i prefer them to in cab versions and will continue using them as an additional resource as long as they remain available. The suggestion has been made to us that monitors go off as soon as power is taken as our platform work is done. If someone then tries to do something silly, more fool them. Not sure i really agree with that or want it on my conscience but we are where we are!

    For anyone interested, i also measured the size of the images on my in cab monitors (6 images per screen, 2 screens)

    377/1/2/4/5 – each **coach** has an image 65mm x 80mm (sub class 6/7 may be improved sizes, i don’t drive them).

    387/1/2 – each coach 80mm x 90mm.

    Not exactly large is it, to see something so important and make sure you have got it right (600,000 imes in a career maybe!) though the 377 have such jerky footage, thats the worst part.

    I will let an eager passenger out there measure the platform monitors if they want to know – it’ll make me look too weird getting out of the cab to do it.

  157. Briantist (in Gigabit internet heaven) says:

    I’ve been looking, once again, at the matter of train dwell times at stations (as recorded by the automatic systems into Darwin.

    It’s certainly very interesting to see the range on the two systems that I’m currently looking at. I posted the London Overground data before, so I’m going to have a comment on the TfL-Rail line because it certainly supports the view of the drivers posted above (thanks for that, very interesting) rather than my base-level assumption.

    Aside from strange data anomalies (Brentwood P3 always reports with 10-second granularity, compared with 0.1 seconds elsewhere) the arrive-depart times range from 11 seconds hourly average (Forest Gate, P1, around noon) up to 146 seconds (Gidea Park, P3, 6-7pm). **

    It’s hard to know what causes such a range in values. It can’t be the trains directly as they are all the “Class 315” type at every stop. I can kind-of understand the daily average 73s at Stratford towards LST as it is a very busy interchange that shares platforms and stairs with the Central Line. But 75s at Harold Wood P3, doesn’t make sense when Romford P4 is 34s.

    The point here is the range (being recorded) is not very metro- at this time. There is certainly scope for journey time improvements of 5 minutes (of whole line 43 minutes) if the dispatch time could be cut to the target of 30s.

    Reading above about the Farringon example, I can’t help wondering if more creative solutions have been tried.

    For example: could jets of cold, compressed air be used to “inform” passengers to keep away from doorways? Would improved lighting (ie, lasers) or signage (say, multi-lingual screens) be able to assist with DOO?

    It seems to be human nature to behave inefficiently when presented with train doors. Beyond muffled PA announcements, have other things been tried?

    ** data (yesterday, hourly averages, between 107-130 data-points each)

    Towards Shenfield
    GMY P4 25s, MNP P2 26s, BRE P4 26s, CTH P4 29s, MYL P2 30s, HRO P4 34s, SVK P4 39s, RMF P5 42s, FOG P2 48s, SRA P8 52s, GDP P4 111s

    Towards Liverpool Street
    FOG P1 14s, RMF P4 33s, MYL P1 35s, SVK P3 40s, IFD P3 42s, BRE P3 44s, GMY P3 44s, CTH P3 52s, MNP P1 72s, SRA P5 73s, HRO P3 74s, GDP P3 126s

  158. Greg Tingey says:

    “unmanned stations” – when they are all-gated? Maybe not – so there should be someone to help a wheelchair-user.
    Your more general points about assistance from second persons, anywhere, are well thought of, however. I do hope you are wrong, but ….

  159. Sad Fat Dad says:

    Anonymous 0234.

    Acknowledging the mathematics of low probability / high consequence; but given that everything in life comes with some risk, what level of risk of a ‘high consequence’ accident is acceptaable? No major incidents in a third of a century for example? Let us not forgot that more than 3/4 of rail journeys in this country are made on trains with only one person on board to conduct operational safety critical tasks.

    The risk assessments and accident rates from LU explained in the article are illuminating.

  160. Sad Fat Dad says:

    Briantist, the answer to the variability in the dwell times for Gidea Park is in the timetable. All trains on the ‘Electric’ lines have a one minute engineering allowance'(recovery time) approaching Gidea Park to allow for a speed restriction between London and Shenfield. In the event that a speed restriction isn’t present, then a train running right time will arrive Gidea Park one minute early, and sit there waiting booked departure time. This is most likely to happen in the off peak / contra peak; in the peak direction trains will often be running slightly late due to being over their dwell times at earlier stops.

  161. Anonymous Pedant,

    The strive for efficiency is not limited to the capitalist system. Any decent communist system of greater or less degree will strive for the same efficiences and improvements in safety. “One man’s pay rise is another man’s price rise” – unless matched by efficiency improvements.

    Air travel is incredibly safe. It is regulated but almost entirely capitalist. Captialism might have produced the 3 mile island incident but communism produced Chernobyl and a host of idealologically inspired ideas that lead to a lower standard of living and even mass starvation and death.

    France, despite what you might think, has some very efficient practices in the public sector even though there are strong unions and the country got rid of its non-socialist heritage a couple of hundred years ago. Indeed, an early example of reducing the headcount. In some areas the Paris Metro is way ahead of London with two lines of driverless (no staff whatsoever) trains as well as in Lille and probably elsewhere.

  162. Anonymous 02:34

    And yet, in this context, probably safer than a driver and a guard is a train that drives automatically to the next station without human intervention. If a “driver” is present but incapacitated then assistance to him can be given more readily.

    Safety is back to the point that, given a limited pot of money, how can safety best be improved? Judging by the feedback from drivers it seems to be to improve the monitoring of the doors by having platform mounted cameras and bigger better monitors in the cab – if I have interpreted them correctly. Simple sounding things like reducing the gap between the train and platform will also produce safety improvements.

    One has to ask how much a guard can usefully do in an emergency on a packed 12-car train. We need the relevant people to be rational about this, get rid of the politics and do a rational risk assessment for all the potential dangers.

    I don´t think anonymous has any real idea of what would actually happen in the scenario he has presented. In the cab, if the train is moving and not driven automatically and the driver fails to show any sign of life by pressing a button or similar for 60 seconds there is a warning which the driver must promptly acknowledge or the train will come to a halt. The signaller will see the train not moving and attempt to contact the driver. He will know something is wrong before the passengers do. The signaller can change all signals to red at the touch of a single button. He can also arrange for the power to be cut off. In the event of being non-electrified or power still being on a train in the opposite direction could be instructed to proceed slowly to see if there is a problem. On London Underground in a tunnel the following train can be instructed to proceed very slowly. There are undoubtably procedures in place to deal with these incidents. And when they are not handled well the Railway Accident Investigation Board get involved even though there is no accident as such.

  163. Sad Fat Dad says:

    PoP – also in the scenario, a signaller can speak directly to passengers on the train via the GSM-R to reassure, advise, give information etc. (and could do so previously with GSM-R’s predecessor, Cab Secure Radio). I understand this was done in the recent unfortunate case on c2c.

  164. Fandroid says:

    @ PoP. What can a guard do on a packed 12 coach train? I was on a train out of Waterloo that got caught by one of the last serious cable thefts on that line. We were stuck/crawling forward for over 3 hours on what is usually a 50 minute trip. The guard was brilliant. He made full use of the PA to maintain regular contact with the passengers, even if it was only to say ‘no more news’. The result was a calm train and passengers who felt looked after. I’m not saying that the driver could not have done the same, just emphasising the value of good communication. My big regret was that I did not write to SWT and commend that guard. I hope others did so.

    Having said that, I am fairly comfortable with DOO on the sort of journeys normal in the Southeast. It is essential, however, that communications systems are capable of reassuring/advising passengers in the event of an incapacitated driver.

  165. alan bluemountains says:

    Fandroid It is indeed unfortunate that positive feed backs to management tend to be rare, there are guards that do good jobs and as you say an announcement such as “I have no more news I will update you as soon as I receive an update” placate people. When you are stuck/ moving slowly time drags for the passengers, make the announcement passengers go back to talking/reading . Here endith the lesson.

  166. RayK says:

    Re Briantist,
    I live between two stations. When departing home I usually choose to walk downhill to the one. When returning I usually choose to walk downhill again, this time from the other. So the reason for my choice is gravity. I am sure that there are a great many reasons which we might term psychological gravity for people to make similar choices. This would mean a wide variation in the numbers of people travelling in different directions from any particular station.
    There are of course many other reasons for the variations which you record. Some could, for instance, just be down to the layout of obstructions on a platform.

  167. Balthazar says:

    Re: Fandroid. Coming soon (if not already out there) will be passenger information systems that allow the control office to make announcements in specific trains, or even specific carriages*. Obviously in that scenario the announcer would be less “all in it together” with the passengers.

    *Which one can imagine being used in conjunction with live CCTV feeds.

  168. Old Buccaneer says:

    PoP re “air travel is almost entirely capitalist”. Yes, & it’s cost them a large fortune.

  169. Briantist (in Gigabit internet heaven) says:

    @Sad Fat Dad

    “All trains on the ‘Electric’ lines have a one minute engineering allowance'(recovery time) approaching Gidea Park to allow for a speed restriction …often be running slightly late due to being over their dwell times at earlier stops.”

    Thanks for the information. Very useful.



  170. Sad Fat Dad says:

    Balthazar, as stated in my post earlier, the facility for signallers (and their supervisors) to make PA announcements on specific trains (but not specific coaches of those trains) has been around since the advent of Cab Secure Radio (CSR) and its successor, GSM-R. CSR was first introduced more than a third of a century ago.

    Anecdote alert: the facility was not always used for operational purposes. I have heard tales of late turn signallers calling through their orders from the local take away to their night turn colleagues they knew were on a given train in to the ‘box.

  171. Briantist (in Gigabit internet heaven) says:

    @Sad Fat Dad @Balthazar

    The Southern (as they were) trains that divide en-route certainly had the ability to address specific groups of carriages: you would be told that you were in the “front part of the train that was going to Worthing|Eastbourne|Brighton|Portsmouth Harbour”. These trains always had the ability to scroll the coach number (and auto- announce it) too.

  172. Malcolm says:

    My experience of automated announcements of trains which are going to split is subtly different from that described by Briantist above. They always told me that the front four (or it might be 6 or 8) coaches would go to X, and the rear so-many would go to Y, explaining where the split is to happen. This part of the announcement was heard exactly the same throughout the train. Then they would say “This is coach number [slight pause] N”, where N was replaced by the exact number of that coach in the train. Nowhere did they tell you directly which part of the train you were in, you had to work that out from the information given.

    However, the exact content of the automated announcement is probably not very relevant to the capability, or not, for a non-automated person remote from the train (or indeed the driver or guard) to direct a message to a specific coach. On that matter I am inclined to believe Sad Fat Dad when he tells us that the feature is “coming soon”.

  173. Alison says:

    Greg Tingey “when they are all-gated? Maybe not – so there should be someone to help a wheelchair-user”

    As an occasional wheelchair user I’d point out that this is a great theory but my experience is that staff stick to near the gateline rather than be useful on the platforms. ymmv.

  174. Greg Tingey says:

    Directed announcements – great idea.
    Provided, of course that the usual scenario does not apply, where there are so many “announcements” that the one actually useful one gets ignored, because it’s simply more noise.

    Hint: I can always tell when the railway operators ( Whether TOC or signalling ) have screwed-up, because, all-of-a-sudding there are no announcements, rather than lots of them …. err ….

  175. Roger Goodacre says:

    A couple of observations from a rail user.

    I use SWT regularly from Putney, where the gates appear to be left open every evening from fairly early. Putney is heavily used: although most customers no doubt have Oyster cards, I imagine the loss of revenue might be quite substantial. An example maybe of where revenue protection staff would be much more useful than guards.

    The delay between the train stopping and the doors opening, generally between 5 & 10 seconds, sometimes more, is ludicrous, especially on a line where capacity is at a premium. I travel frequently in France and Switzerland where doors open the second the train has come to a standstill.

  176. Ian J says:

    @anonymous: Is the train driver going to get out of the cab and help the wheelchair bound person on board the train? and then get out of the cab when that person arrives at the station? No, of course not

    Why not? (genuine question). That’s how it is done in Melbourne, for instance (with wheelchair spaces positioned next to the cab and a waiting area marked on the relevant part of the platform).

    Yes, most stations have staff, sometimes. But increasingly they don’t.

    The trend seems to be towards more staffed stations, not less (eg. TfL’s policy of staffing all stations first train to last, and extra staffing as part of GTR’s franchise agreement).

  177. Greg Tingey says:

    Ian J
    AFAIK all London stations seem to have a (fold-up) wheelchair ramp available on all platforms.
    And I’ve seen them in fairly frequent use – staff appear to be told ( by internal radio-message ) which carriage & even door to expect to use, & are ready to do their stuff as soon as the doors open.
    Dwell times do not seem greatly affected, because everyone has practised the game beforehand, so to speak.

  178. Jim elson says:

    There was a very interesting post on uk rail forum pointing this Melbourne example out. The poster,XDM,who seems to be a driver or a rail manager on an Ossie holiday,asked A few Melbourne drivers what they thought about it & they all took it for granted as part of the job. He was also told by drivers they enjoyed the interaction with the passengers. It was a bit of variety & a brief break for staring ahead at the track. One driver said he really welcomed it as his little daughter was disabled & he welcomed knowing his mates would be able to help her when she was grown up. It’s a great idea. A following disabled poster approved it but pointed out the disabled toilets were not in UK trains’ first coach. But that can be remedied,& with new wide gangways it may not matter. A very good idea. If we had a bit more Ossie sun UK drivers might feel benevolent enough to accept it wholeheartedly.

  179. Snowy says:

    Probably a few issues that needed addressing if we went for a driver assistance disabled approach.

    1. Maintaining consistency of the stopping points at the platform for services of the differing lengths or provide ramp at each point.
    2. Increased dwell time at the stations the driver needs to get out
    3. If the driver needs to leave the cab how much security or cab shut down would be needed?

    Surely just keeping platform staff available for this as per the Under/Overground model would be more efficient (although more expensive in staff costs).

  180. Timbeau says:

    Bus drivers can operate the wheelchair ramp from the cab. Train stopping points are much more rigidly defined so I would have expected it would be easier to arrange for trains.

  181. Graham H says:

    @jim elson -“the disabled toilets were not in UK trains’ first coach”. Unless every terminal is to be equipped with a loop, then for half of the journeys, ‘the first shall be last’

  182. ngh says:

    Re Snowy,

    Hence the franchise requirement for more station staffing!

  183. Malcolm says:

    Well yes, but presumably in Melbourne there is an accessible toilet at each end of the train. Not impossible anywhere, but one more constraint on train design. But anyway there are many routes on which toilet facilities are not provided at all, so such routes would in theory be a candidate for driver-assisted wheelchair ramps.

    Regarding the need for sunshine: difficulties with drivers doing this are unlikely to be anything to do with driver attitude, just a matter of the added (variable) dwell time, and cab security issues as mentioned.

    Whether a remotely-deployed wheelchair ramp (as on some buses) is feasible would also depend on height differences: bus ramps are typically almost level when deployed, not so with many trains. If platforms have to be altered at all, then ideally they should be altered to give proper (rampless) level boarding.

  184. ngh says:

    Re Malcolm,
    Unlikely in the UK as the end cars of newer EMUs tend to be motored and the toilet is in an intermediate trailer due to space/weight requirements so you would want to increase the weight of the end motor cars as this would increase track access charges. Thameslink aren’t following the Melbourne approach due to different stock lengths and aim to keep the disables spaces nearer the middle for staffed platforms.

  185. Malcolm says:

    ngh: Oh. I might have guessed that an accessible toilet would weigh less than the number of seats it displaces plus their occupants. But it sounds as if I am wrong there; I guess it’s the tanks full of water (and stuff).

  186. Anomnibus says:

    Re. Guards on trains.

    It occurred to me that there are a few obvious financial tipping-points that dictate(d) when staffing stations and guards vans made sense:

    For the railways, the long lead times when implementing new technical solutions means that increasingly anachronistic roles can continue for 20-30 years, or even longer.

    A direct example is ATC/ATO, which is still slowly making its way across the TfL network, despite making its first, albeit more basic, appearance on the Victoria Line in the late 1960s.

    [Much too long and too off topic, so snipped. We don’t need a history lesson. LBM]

  187. timbeau says:

    “Unlikely in the UK as the end cars of newer EMUs tend to be motored ”
    No reason why they have to be though. I understand the change from having the end bogies motored in class 40x and 41x units to having the motor bogies in a middle car in class 42x units, and in all new ac units up to class 322*, was the “cleaning” effect on the rails that the leading unpowered wheels had on the track, improving traction for the powered wheels further back (and also why in icy conditions Bournemouth services ran with the powered REP unit in between the two trailer units rather than at the London end).

    *except, obviously, the 2-car variant of class 309

  188. Graham H says:

    Anomnibus’ post raises a slightly different issue to the one he cites – that is whether DOO (with or without a conductor) is actually worthwhile. In terms of the cost of leasing and operating a rake of stock (typically around £4-6m for a 12 car), the staff costs are quite small – say 4 FTEs per diagram as guards, with a typical employment cost of around £0.25m (replace them with ontrain “support” staff – £200k – and the saving on the cost of fulltime guards shrinks to something a bit more than £50k – not much of a saving, then). For sure, not having to have a guard simplifies rostering and increases flexibility, but is not the answer to a financial director’s prayers. I wonder if the cost savings didn’t loom much larger in the days when rolling stock wasn’t the expensive hobby it is these days. Another interesting consequence of the recapitalisation of the industry?

  189. ngh says:

    Re timbeau,

    The more recent EMUs tend to have 3/4* of the bogies powered rather than 1/4 (to 1/2) of the MK3 family EMUs (so the end cars end up being motored as it is almost impossible not to) and every EMU family designed post Polmont has had end motor bogies again (much heavier) to reduce the chance of being derailed (by cows etc. I forget what the recommended axle loading (10.5t?) to win scissors paper stone with a cow is).

    *4/5 on 5 car 377s & 378s

  190. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    If announcements can be made remotely, then how difficult would it be to drive the train remotely (at reduced speed) to get it to the next station? The technology exists already….

  191. alan bluemountains says:

    Malcolm 6 june 11:43 I think you will find that suburban trains in Melbourne (and Sydney) do not have onboard toilets at all.

  192. ngh says:

    Re Graham H,

    I’ve had a number a fair a reasonable bit higher than the 4FTE /diagram suggested to me for Southern where there are far more late evening and weekend services than on other similar TOCs like SWT or SE where the service level drops dramatically after 2000ish, earlier last services, more splitting and the Sunday service level is comparatively lower that don’t sit efficiently with “Hidden” shift patterns which suggest a number of diagrams might need 3 guards (excluding splitting so more in those cases) to run through the day.

    Given the stopping patterns on most Southern services guards can’t do too much useful about the revenue element gathering and there are plenty of anecdotes of lots short distance fare evasion.

  193. Latecomer says:

    Regarding assisting disabled passengers in wheelchairs I have observed the ELL and associated lines become much more efficient over the past two or three years. Of course there are a number of level access platforms and an increasing number of stations with lifts. When a ramp is required I generally find that staff are in position and that they have normally already alerted control if assistance is required at the station the person is alighting from. It helps me enormously as a driver if the member of platform staff is also able to advise me where the passenger is alighting and if they are to be met.

    I have on a couple of occasions contacted control if there has been an unattended wheelchair passenger who boarded from a level access platform but had not alerted staff to the need for assistance later. Though thankfully rare these days I have just two or three times had to deploy the ramp myself. I try to remember the location of many of the platform ramps but I can’t remember them all, although most are in sight. There is a ramp on board a 378 but it is extremely cumbersome. As for “why not the driver?”, it certainly does incur delay. Nevertheless I would consider it discriminatory to leave a wheelchair passenger behind if the procedures had broken down and they needed assistance. Even on a regular service I have waited and incurred a delay. I would think that for driver assistance we are probably talking 5 minutes including fetching, deploying and returning the ramp along with calls to both the signaller re the delay and control for the passengers later assistance. Much better to go with the platform based assistance we have that works efficiently 95% of the time. Anything that draws a driver out of the cab also has the potential to increase the risk of incident (such as a SOY spad – start on yellow, or a SAS spad – start against signal), regardless of the fact that we are advised not to rush and to commence dispatch procedure again.

  194. timbeau says:

    “The more recent EMUs tend to have 3/4* of the bogies powered – 4/5 on 5 car 377s & 378s”

    I understand a class 378 power car (of which there are four in a five car train) has only three powered axles, so although the proportion of powered bogies is indeed 80%, the proportion of powered axles is actually 3/4 x 4/5 = 60% (For a 4-car class 377 it’s 3/4 x 3/4 = 9/16)

    If Dr Wiki is to believed a class 700 will have 50% powered (MTMTTMTM or MTMMTTTTMMTM), with all axles powered on the motor coaches.

    All of these are more than the 25% typical of BR days.

  195. Graham H says:

    @ngh – depends on how many “guarding” hours you achieve per shift. Overnight operations apart, there are likely to be around 7500 service hours a year and you wouldn’t provide a full service throughout the service day – perhaps only for half of that. Allowing 4 per diagram implies a “guarding” total of perhaps less than 1500 hours/pa for each FTE. Add back 1/3 of that for signing on, scheduling losses and so on gives you the 4 FTE, but maybe utilisation is a lot less than the implied 30hrs/week?

  196. Old Buccaneer says:

    SWT agreed a 40 hour week (down from 42) in August 2015. Basic pay seems to be 28k pa, though figures between 26-31k are quoted; not including allowances (including London weighting) or the 5pc of ticket sales that “commercial guards” get.

  197. ngh says:

    Re OB and Graham,
    I suspect a lot of potential diagrams will come in at just over (e.g. a few minutes) the time limit between staff breaks so the last trip would be done by another guard (or driver – same rostering issues) instead so you could need a lot of guards in fairly remote locations to hand over to make things work which may not be very efficient given some frequencies or then start having handovers on route which could cause reliability issues?

    I suspect there are lots of difficulties in the detail.

  198. Graham H says:

    @OB – to which you might reasonably add 20% to cover employers’ costs.

    @ngh – as ever! (And as ever in the industry, there are probably a lot of activity thresholds here which are only just crossed but which trigger a whole new provision of resources…)

  199. Old Buccaneer says:

    @Graham H even when I bulk up my number I struggle to get to your “4FTE @ 250k” estimate at 15:17 today.

    But wholly agree: annual cost of guard small compared to rolling stock; & savings from cutting or reducing guards look modest.

    Which leaves “doctrinal” reasons as the rationale for this proposed reform. Oh dear.

  200. ngh says:

    Re Graham,

    I suspect SWT are comparatively very lucky (vs Southern) on this given their network, journey times and service frequencies and SE’s (BR Era) DOO deal in the early 1990s was a bit better in on the ground operational terms than the SN one.

    I suspect the Southern 2 terminus problem certainly doesn’t help and certainly won’t after a Southern – Thameslink split on lots of branches in the future!

    I had quick look at East Grinstead (all day Victoria and peak only London Bridge services which become TL DOO services in 2 years). [Also probably the simplest to analyse…]

    The peak hour extras to LBG that interleave between the VICs are very efficient in term of marginal extra guard usage as they use some of what acts as staff break / time recovery time off peak but isn’t used in peak to staff the services as efficiently as possible and fairly efficiently overall. Now fast forwards 2 years and the LBG peak extra have become peak extra TL services to Bedford via LBG with no guards, you are now stuck with a long lay over for SN staff at East Grinstead (but not at VIC). When you add booking on getting from the depot to first stop (and the reverse at the end of shift) then the efficiency of Guard utilisation on VIC – EGR drops to circa <50% of time spent guarding (train in service).

  201. Graham H says:

    @OB – it depends on the utilisation rate. 4FTE could theoretically provide about 8000 hr/pa which would mean that every entire diagram – assuming that it lasted 18-20 hours – could be covered. But (a) utilisation is lower for all the reasons stated- so at 1000 hrs/pa, you would need 8 FTEs; on the other hand (b) few diagrams last 20 hours – perhaps only half of them so you would save 1/3 of the numbers, but then again you can probably get a bit more than 50% utilisation, so 4 FTE should be broadly right. I agree that on the basis of the salary figures quoted, the annual cost of employing a guard would be around £40k, so the savings from replacing with a “customer host” will be commensurately lower. As you say, dogma.

  202. Malcolm says:

    Latecomer: Just curiosity, but how do you, as driver, know if there is an unattended wheelchair user wishing to alight at the station you have just stopped at (if platform staff were not told)?

  203. Malcolm says:

    Jargon-busting service (even though no-one asked): FTE = Full Time Equivalent

  204. Ian J says:

    Is it really relevant from the franchise’s point of view what the cost of the guard is relative to that of leasing the train? The train lease, track access charges etc are all fixed costs they can do nothing about (they are committed to running particular stock for the life of the franchise) whereas the costs of the staff they employ are something they have influence over. “The railway” might have been recapitalised, but individual franchises have almost no capital assets.

  205. ngh says:

    Re Ian J,

    Agreed not really. From a commercial point of veiw the guard role isn’t working as well as it could so there is an opportunity to reduce costs by not having a 2nd staff member on all services and target the 2nd staff members at times and service where they can make a difference to revenue collection (fitting into a bigger picture of more gated stations and longer station staffing hours. The value of 2nd staff member will then be to prevent either directly (selling tickets or issuing penalty fares) or indirectly (passengers understanding that they will need to buy at some point so doing it before hand) circa £200 of fare evasion for each shift they work. Measuring the indirect effect will be harder but do-able.

    Hence I’d expect (multiple?) OBS targetted on certain part of services when they run through areas with less gating or all day staffing.

  206. 100andthirty says:

    Malcolm……On lines where the driver is expected to assist a wheelchair bound passenger off the train, there is typically a special button which can be used for this purpose (also a feature of London’s two door buses.

  207. Graham H says:

    @Ian J -I agree there’s no direct link between the number ofguards and the other costs of running the railway,but many of the costs you mention are not quite as fixed as it may seem,where clever diagramming or even clever technical change (as with SWT avoiding the cost of depot expansion through a remotoring programme)have the potential to yield relatively much larger savings than the troublesome business of struggling with IR issues to save a few hundreds of thousands.

    Worse – as is implied in your remark about TOCs owning few assets, is the problem that TOCs lack any business “substance”: they are merely cash flow machines and the risk for them, therefore, is that they can go bust very quickly. Cross-default reinforces that. (The Board’s chuckling estimate in 1993 was that a TOC couldn’t stand its cash flow being interrupted for more than about 6 weeks before going under). That puts a term on the length of time they can withstand a strike but it also means that TOCs are very reluctant to engage in savings that trigger industrial action.

    @ngh – not only can the second man generate substantial revenue benefits but a surprising number of TOCs fail to study how best to do this. Back in the day,ticket collectors were simply sent out, and some took their job seriously but others concentrated on the quieter routes where the punters were less troublesome. GH’s suggestion that they might be concentrated on routes where traffic was heaviest and evasion highest led to some uncomfortable movement in the easy chairs. Personal observation suggests that not much has improved since -I cannot remember the last time there was any sort of ticket check on SWT and I frequently make trips to S Wales where, despite the provisionof plenty of ontrain staff to deal with door opening and so on, the number of ticket inspections is zero.

  208. Fandroid says:

    GH. Things must be very different on the Portsmouth line! It’s unusual for there not to be a ticket check on the SWT main line. I travelled into Waterloo yesterday from Bas and was checked in both directions (as usual). That’s in addition to every stop being gated.

  209. timbeau says:

    In contrast to GH’s experience, the last time my ticket was checked on any SWT train was a year ago, when I went to Portsmouth for the day!

    But I cannot remember the last time my ticket was checked on an SWT local train. What we do get are blitzes at individual stations – a favourite trick is to blockade the top of the stairs at Wimbledon, leading to dangerous overcrowding on the platform.

    Admittedly inspection en route would be very difficult – the guards’ occasional promise that they “will be passing through the train during the journey” being greeted with incredulity by the sardines, and suggestions that such a feat could only be acheived by walking along the roof.

  210. Latecomer says:

    @ Malcolm 6th June 22.48

    It can/has been through various means. If the person has been close enough to the front cab when they’ve boarded I’ve simply asked for their destination so I can a) be able to advise on train to platform or platform to exit issues as appropriate b) contact control if assistance is required c) be prepared to dwell for a little longer if I don’t see them exit on a level platform station reasonably promptly. I have on other occasions been able to advise someone to go an extra stop due to there being no lifts for interchange to another platform.

    In terms of how I’ve been alerted if they’ve already been on board and have no assistance then it’s normally been via the “call for aid” button in the disabled seating area (as different from pass comm buttons these do not cause a brake application if not overridden), or via another passenger bringing the situation to my attention.

    On one occasion I have failed to attain interlock at one of the quieter stations on my route and after a couple of attempts to close doors followed by a PA to passengers to refrain from blocking the doors I’ve switched on the internal cameras. To my horror I’ve seen a wheelchair passenger blocking the doors waiting to alight. There is no way I could see this from the external view. By the time I had gone to assist I had been joined by station staff who said that this passenger apparently quite regularly boards via a level access platform and advises no one that they need assistance at the other end and this is their means of gaining assistance! The additional time delay with my attempt at closing the doors and then the need for me to contact the signaller would have been significant (enough for me to submit a delay report). My thoughts as I went back to see the passenger were mixed – I wondered how many passengers aboard assumed that I could see what was happening and thought I was somehow at fault, but also there were many people seated there and I wondered why no one bothered to wave an arm outside the doors. Was it ‘bystander syndrome’? On some of these occasions of course it would have been preferable to have a member of staff (guard?) on board, but they are rare and on the whole passenger assistance seems to work effectively provided we have been informed.

  211. quinlet says:

    Surely a routine ticket check by a conductor on every journey where every station is also gated is surely needless duplication. The marginal benefits of either as the second line of defence can hardly justify the costs.

  212. Malcolm says:

    It’s pure speculation, but if there are a worthwhile number of holders of advance tickets, available only on a particular train, then the on-train inspection may pay for itself. I don’t think gates can police these – nor adults travelling on child tickets, or doughnutting (if that’s what it’s called) (holding different tickets valid at each end), or probably other scams that are even less widely known.

  213. ngh says:

    Re Quinlet,

    The issue is that all stations on the network aren’t gated (and varying hours) so you need to run plenty of ticket checks particularly around interchange stations if you aren’t going to gate all the stations. GTR are going for both more gating and more checking. (e.g. Passenegers changing from 1 branch service to another not heading on the mainline into London e.g. Shawford – Whitchurch via a change at Basingrad)

  214. ngh says:

    Re Malcolm,

    Doughnutting – I believe it has been renamed Stonegating after its most famous example.

    Gates can police after 0930 etc restrictions, other enforcement is far harder unless you have separate gatelines for each platform (or groups of) like Gatwick Express.

  215. Londoner says:

    And tailgating. If you stand and watch at a busy station you’ll notice the odd person follow a paying passenger very closely and through the gates without paying.

    The slower Wide Aisle Gates are a non for accessibility and those with luggage, but make tailgating much easier.

  216. Purley Dweller says:

    And as I saw at Purley earlier, a lad literally forced the wide gates at the back entrance open – obviously does it regularly enough to know it works and that they aren’t monitored unless someone presses the help button.

  217. quinlet says:

    all this argument points to the fact that gates are not a particularly valuable addition so long as there are routine and regular checks on every train, because so many different types of scam are available. Yet clearly on the underground routine ticket checks on trains are not viable. Working a gated system on the underground and a ticket check system elsewhere might be viable, but the point of having gates at stations on lines where there are routine on train checks seems to be increasingly debatable.

  218. Malcolm says:

    Clearly both gates and on-train checks have loopholes and snags. Why don’t we go for some of each?

  219. Old Buccaneer says:

    Malcolm: that’s kind of where we are, but the mix seems to be currently sub-optimal. ‘Slouching towards Bethlehem’?

  220. ngh says:

    Re Malcolm,

    Indeed the plan appears to be more of each. The longer station staffing hours will help the effectiveness of gating.

    Re Quinlet and OB,

    Ticket check aren’t viable on board most L&SE commuter services any more as only a small % could be checked hence more gating (and staffed for longer) combined with more on train revenue checks in the quieter area where this can make a difference. In Southern terms I can see virtually every station on the BML (Quarry and Redhill) gated all day and the on train enforcement done on the branches or shortly after joining the BML. The busier stations on the branches are being gated (this year) if they already aren’t.

  221. Just like to add that from my experience tickets often get checked on the ungated Tattenham Corner branch. It is generally only at quiet times and sometimes with two people (staff that is, not passengers). Not quite sure if this is policy or staff looking for a quiet life – not entirely convinced that the number of tickets checked reaches double figures per person.

  222. Anonymous says:

    I regularly travel from London to Frinton-on-Sea. Tickets are sometimes checked on the train in deepest Essex, on the way to London, but, on the way to Essex, I could quite easily touch in at Liverpool St on oyster (zone 1-4 travelcard) and not bother with a ticket, because checks in that direction are very rare. Of course, I always do have a valid ticket!

  223. Greg Tingey says:

    Similar on the ex-GER lines.
    On-train checks are quite common out of the peaks, but there are quite a few stations that do not have gates, of course.
    Ditto the “Goblin”

    Perimeter gates are coming to Walthamstow Central real soon now – announcements are being made.
    I do hope they put an extra set in at the exit from the ped-tunnel on the up ( South ) side, otherwise there will be jams in the original entrance building.

  224. Old Buccaneer says:

    Greg re: Walthamstow Central: there’s a thread over at District Dave.

  225. ngh says:

    Re Greg and OB,

    It will be interesting to see if more LO get gated especially Goblin Stations with the anticipated increase in passengers post electrification and new rolling stock.
    GTR are gating Queens Road Peckham (Southern and LO) this year which closes the net further south of the river.

  226. Pedantic of Purley says:

    I can see the day when pretty much everything between Brighton and central London is gated except probably Earlswood, Salfords and Balcombe. In fact I think we are pretty much there today and it is more a case of making sure that the gates are staffed for more hours.

  227. ngh says:

    Re PoP,

    Changes in 2016:
    Gating 0600-2200 (e.g. 2 normal shifts) but 0500 or 0530 start at coastway/outer stations and 2300 finish at busier ones.
    More station gates being installed on branches (or gaps): e.g. Caterham, Bexhill, Barnham, Lancing, Sanderstead…

  228. lmm says:

    I don’t see why a gate couldn’t check an advance ticket? Certainly it could make a fuss if you tried to enter after your booked train had departed or exit before your booked train had arrived, which would cover most of the cases like taking an illicit faster route.

    While there are always complex scams that can only be detected by on-train inspections, on a (hypothetical) line where every station was gated and every gateline was staffed I really can’t see on-train inspections being worthwhile.

  229. ngh says:

    Re lmm,

    Advanced tickets – ITSO or new tickets with more info on them which are both coming are required to do it usefully.

    “While there are always complex scams that can only be detected by on-train inspections, on a (hypothetical) line where every station was gated and every gateline was staffed I really can’t see on-train inspections being worthwhile.”

    Indeed the question is with how much below 100% gating you can achieve a 98%+ outcome.

  230. ChrisMitch says:

    Elephant and Castle is not gated either – seems strange for such a central station.

  231. Graham Feakins says:

    The first station with ticket gates on the former Chatham main line after Blackfriars, via Elephant, Herne Hill and Beckenham Junction, is Bromley South.

  232. ngh says:

    Re Chris and Graham F,

    Loughborough Jn is due being gated this year…

  233. ChrisMitch says:

    Tooting had gates installed a few months ago, then removed 2 days later. Not sure what happened there…

  234. Old guy says:

    Re Malcolm: the scam of holding 2 season tickets, one each for a small end segment of a journey was known at least c1970 when I learned about it as ‘dumbelling’! Apparently it was very prevalent on services into L St stopping at Stratford, thus allowing access to the Underground.

  235. Graham Feakins says:

    @ngh – “Loughborough Jn is due being gated this year…” (Is due to be or is?) – That’s interesting because, so far as I am aware, the only “ticket counter” plus ticket machine is up on the island platform at the top of the stairs from the street:

    Since those facilities will be on the wrong side of any gate line, I assume some ticket purchase facilities will have to be provided at street level.

    As an aside, the station is becoming busier as the King’s College Hospital campus spreads westwards from its traditional Denmark Hill site and many staff have discovered that Loughborough Junction station ‘is there’.

  236. Walthamstow Writer says:

    Goodness me that took some catching up.

    – Sunshine. While I agree the sun’s position should be predictable year round you can’t predict its intensity, the weather nor other things that may change. This makes it difficult to know when staff have to be deployed to assist dispatch (LU platforms). The other issue is that the failure to view a monitor image would be reported as a “fault” and, irony of ironies, the engineers would turn up in engineering hours (pitch black) and find “no fault found”. A delightful situation for the infrastructure company, a nightmare for everyone else.

    – Force Majeure. Mildly astounded that, on first impression, TSGN have a get out clause for strikes by their own employees. The 8 day “cap” makes a bit more sense but even so that really surprises me. Normally strikes by other parties who are involved in providing the rail service (e.g. Network Rail), might attract a force majeure treatment as it’s outside the control of the TOC. However granting “get out” clauses in respect of things directly within the control of the contractor is a surprise (to me anyway).

    – Cost pressures. I do wonder if the DfT have made some brave assumptions about departmental savings and this is what is forcing the pace on new TOC contracts requiring larger premium payments / lower subsidies. The new for fleet renewal / fleet expansion provides a suitable “cloak” for removal of the guard function whereas the imperative is cost reduction. Bashing the TUs is perhaps viewed as the “icing on the cake” by some in government.

    – Gates. They only work properly when the coding can support the validities on the tickets and there is someone to intervene when a ticket is rejected. Oh and also ensuring tickets are actually encoded properly and the gates have up to date checking logic in them also helps (not mentioning any TOCs in particular – ahem). Passengers also need to know that they will encounter properly working gates for all / nearly all of their journeys. If they aren’t going to do this then some will adjust their journeys to avoid payment. While I take the point that many TOC trains are so overloaded that on train checks are not feasible this doesn’t get rid of the need for properly targeted checks across the traffic day / days of the week and by geography. This can be with gates / using the gates enhanced logic which can be switched on / manual ticket check. Gates will *never* catch everyone nor deter everyone which is why you need manual checks, ideally with trained RPIs, to target the persistent evaders / more complex frauds.

  237. Graham Feakins says:

    P.S. Or are the gates, maybe just one or at most a pair per platform, going to be located on the island platform in the gaps between the ends of the railings and the ticket counter building, as card readers have been installed? See photo links above which show the readers covered over.

  238. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ GF – looking at those photos of L’boro Junction I’d say the place was ungateable. There is no run off for people to queue at platform level. Still we are talking about TSGN (ghost of FCC) – the operator who is happy to install gates at the tops of staircases and is seemingly oblivious to the concept of safe run off areas. It even looks like a complete struggle downstairs even if you could reopen ticketing facilities down there. You need to open up the area or extend the building outwards into the street – assuming NR own the brick paved area in front of the entrance. All that building cost would probably render the scheme unviable unless the station is very, very busy (I’ve never used it).

    The covered over items are just Oyster validators – I assume the photos are several years old and were taken in the run up to NR accepting Oyster PAYG more widely in Greater London.

  239. Ian J says:

    @WW: Bashing the TUs is perhaps viewed as the “icing on the cake” by some in government

    The current Transport Secretary came to prominence as a non-striking miner (and former NUM official) during the 1980s miners’ strike. It’s probably fair to say that he doesn’t think highly of the rail unions. What is less clear is whether the unions are any better at strategy than the NUM was – for example, why do they oppose the franchising system when, as Graham H points out, TOCs are much more willing to back down in the face of the threat of strikes than government is? Do they really believe rail renationalisation would lead to better conditions for their members? (It might lead to a better rail service overall, but trade unions exist to get the best deal for their members).

  240. Graham Feakins says:

    @WW – Yes, I think that you are correct in all aspects and that’s why I omitted my postscript thought originally; I just believed that it would be neither possible nor permitted. I seem to be backed up by this 2014 item possibly pre-Oyster readers (scroll down to said LJ station and look closely at the photos, whilst being diverted at Brixton):

    There’re 30 steps from the centre of that quite narrow island platform to the street level entrance.

    There is generally a ‘steady’ flow of intending passengers up the stairs, so I guess that the flow wouldn’t be so much of a problem should the gates be at platform level but the alighting crowd from a down train in the evening peaks might have to crowd around the stairwell gates on the narrowest part of the platform in order to exit.

    The latest figures seem to suggest some 1.4+ million entries & exits for 2014-15. I could add some local area knowledge to that but let’s not go there. In other words, it’s not as busy as e.g. neighbouring Herne Hill with nearly 3.4 million, plus over 1.5 million interchanges, or Denmark Hill with its 5.6 million entries and exits.

  241. Ian J says:

    @Graham F, WW: The 2014 feasibility study referred to in the report Graham linked to is here. On page 44 are some layouts for ‘potential improvements to the existing station’ including a proposal to move ticketing to ground floor level (which would allow a lift to be installed, coming up to where the platform ticket office is), but with “no gating assumed” in the short-term proposal.

    It seems they were thinking more in terms of disabled accessibility than gating but it does indicate there is some vague aspiration out there to extend the station at ground-floor level.

  242. Graham H says:

    @IanJ – BR found that the union attitudes to privatisation were mixed. Whilst RMT busily began digging ditches and then dying in them now and then, ASLEF did the maths, realised how vulnerable the TOCs were to having their cash flow interrupted, and simply demanded more cash – very successfully. In particular, they demanded that both Connex and GNER pay them for various past productivity gains already agreed and delivered – the TOCs paid up like lambs – and both our Chairman and the Treasury went round kicking as much furniture as happened to be on the floor at the time. A very successful and well-conceived operation by ASLEF.

  243. 100andthirty says:

    WW. Sunshine. Whilst you cannot predict the weather, the sunshine angle and hence reflections or shining directly into one camera or another is entirely predicable. Thus the design of the system, at least, should be carried out to provide the right camera views and angles (allowing for the sunlight………..another reason why I hate vehicle mounted DOO cameras you have no choice over location), recessing platform and cab monitors in hoods, using anti reflective screen coverings, and for cab monitors, not painting the cab interior in light glossy colours and issuing the staff with white shirts (personal experience using – or rather failing to use – a touch screen tablet in the open!). The design process should identify any sites where glare from sunlight might be a problem and should be in the documentation handed over to the operators – both engineers and station/train operators. Once in operation, I would expect issues with the DOO equopment, be they hard faults or sunlight to be reported with at least a symptom. From that data, a body of evidence would be built up. For example if, on two years out of three June 14ths, there is are multiple issues reported for EB trains in the afternoon on an east west line, I would kick off an investigation and at least plan some mitigation for the next June 14th (or appropriate date taking the detailed solar variation into account). That does, however require, 1) Recognising that things can be done, 2) someone taking responsibility and 3) information being properly retained and properly analysed.

    I do know it’s possible, because other issues on the national network involving glare in screens have been properly investigated and mitigations made.

  244. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ 100&30 – Yes I know from bitter experience that all of that can be done. Perhaps it is my experience of PTI issues that is somewhat colouring my views? We did eventually get some decent improvements but it involved a great deal of work and effort, largely by others to be fair, and money. Even after all of that I was left feeling that there remained far too much subjective comment, largely from drivers, about what “worked” and what did not. To be frank it’s pretty silly to have a situation where you get a “fault” from 1 in 100 uses of the PTI and that’s because the driver stands up to drive rather than sitting down. Please note that is a statement of fact not me taking a swipe at train drivers – just before someone decides to write an angry riposte. Perhaps I’m too “logicial” but I always felt that such a safety critical interface should be dealt with rather more objectively than it seemed to be dealt with? That was with LU where practice is generally considered to be far better than NR.

    And one other little trigger from past posts. I noted the various remarks from TOC drivers about passenger behaviour. LU has been “banging on about” the platform train interface via posters and announcements for many years (no sarcy remarks from Greg T about announcements please). This was part of a passenger education process. Perhaps the TOCs need a co-ordinated campaign with common messages and material? (assuming something hasn’t already been done – I’ve not been on a non TfL rail service in ages).

  245. ngh says:

    Re Chris Mitch and Graham F,

    Tooting fitting then removal of gates. A number of times before gates have been fitted and tested then removed (all cabling and other hidden stuff left in place) till staffing arrangements or other building works (e.g. moving ticket machines etc) are completed. As GTR are gating an additional 20+ station this year I suspect those gates will visit a number of stations before finishing up some where permanently (they cost circa £25k a gate hence fit out long before full compliment are delivered).

    Loughborough Jn – I suspect the ticket machine will be moved down stairs and the office abolished as it is becoming a station host only station?

  246. ngh says:

    Re WW,

    Cost pressures – this is long term planned NcNulty report era, passengers should pick up more of the cost so less DfT subsidy.

  247. as it is becoming a station host only station?

    For those not in the know, this is GTR’s plan to do a bit of an LU approach to ticket offices. Host station is a euphemism for stations with “hosts” rather than ticket office staff.

    By coincidence, or not, there was a press release about this today.

    There is a list of stations affected.

    It would seem that there may be slightly bizarre results. Purley will be a busy host station with no ticket office but adjacent stations Purley Oaks, Kenley and Reedham (the latter of which is very quiet) will be single staffed and, it seems, continue to have a ticket office open for extended hours. So, I think, the ticket office won’t close if you don’t have ticket gates.

    Perhaps I should have written a companion piece – The last stand of the old booking office clerk.

  248. Just to add, Loughborough Jn will have a total of two ticket machines and have gates installed in 2016. There will be a host in the ticket area until at least 2300 (2245 Sundays) but none in the very early morning. There will be no platform staff. It seems at other times that the station is open there will be at least one member of staff – so presumably hidden away somewhere.

    Tooting is on the list so, along with ngh’s explanation, that would explain the appearing/disappearing gates.

  249. 100andthirty says:

    WW. We could probably weep on each others shoulders. There are probably more opinions about how best to protect the PTI than there are accidents. Whilst we can never be complacent, LU gets less than 2000 incidents out of more than 4.5 Bn crossings of this interface. Comparatively few of them are preventable by the driver (or (old) guard), but they can, of course mitigate the consequences. All this points to a very low risk, you might think. However some of the incidents are low in number and high in consequence – a very small sub set of the 2000, I hasten to add for the benefit of non-ex-LU people. The best examples are “fall between train and platform AND train sets off” and “standing on the platform with something caught in the doors AND the train sets off”. Generally, such low probability, high consequence risks need to be dealt with as a matter of policy and not just though risk assessment. In my view, LU is rather good at this. especially with cab CCTV views that persist after the train has set off.

    I contrast this with the London Midland train I caught home yesterday. At my home station, the 4 car set came to a stand in middle of the 13 car platform as usual. The guard, as he is required to do, opened his door and put his foot on the platform before opening the doors. When boarding and alighting was completed, the guard shut the doors. Having observed that the door closed lights were extinguished, got into the rear cab, shut the door, no doubt checked his local door closed indicator and then signalled the driver. A few seconds later, the train set off and as the rear cab passed me, I saw that the guard was standing with his nose “glued” cab door window looking out more or less sideways. What he hoped to see is a mystery – debris flying past?. What disturbs me most is that someone has designed this as a “safe system of work” for a modern fleet of trains that is barely 10 years old.

  250. Greg Tingey says:

    Actually I agree with you re announcements
    Let’s have a consistent, useful & informative policy, with no extraneous “dribble” as we get at present.

    Your statement re Loughboro’ Jn is worrying – TSGN seem to be heading in the opposite “direction” to TfL station manning.
    I think that might be a recipe for potential accidents

  251. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ PoP – L’boro Junc being gated? { rolls eyes } Let’s hope they get it right with enough space rather than an utter bodge.

    @ 100&30 – well yes I’ve read a fair few FIRs [1] into those more serious incidents. The odd one or two are hair raising. And yes “safe system of work” – that’s one of the things that was prompted in my head from the many many comments above that suggested all management did was shove responsibility down the staffing structure. However they can’t escape their responsibility for ensuring a safe system of work for people. The apparent belief that staff just turn up and do their own thing and then suffer the (legal) consequences if there is an accident is clearly not right. There are two fundamental questions – is the “safe system of work” safe and appropriate for the circumstances? The second is “did the employee(s) comply with the safe system of work”? Clearly there are different potential consequences for different parties depending on the answers to those questions.

    [1] formal investigation reports

  252. Malcolm says:

    I wonder whether the move away from guards watching departure from their own open doors (on both tube and rail) to them being behind firmly shut and interlocked doors is connected with a change of safety objectives, from (to exaggerate) protecting passengers at all costs and letting the staff take care of themselves, to a rather more balanced approach where death or injury to anyone, passenger or staff, is to be equally abhorred.

    Such a move may have even gone too far – but certainly the defence “he shouldn’t have taken the job unless he was prepared to accept the associated personal risks” is no longer attempted.

    (Of course there is no need now to bring back open guard’s doors, as similar supervision can technically be provided electronically – at a price).

  253. Malcolm says:

    So this new person called a “host” is someone who can simultaneously watch gates (if such are present) , dealing with anomalies, and watch ticket machines with a similar remit?

    Half a century ago Wood Green (now Alexandra Palace) had a thing called a passimeter, essentially a four-sided ticket office, with a window alongside incoming and outgoing “gates” and a window on the fully unpaid side (and possibly one on the paid side, memory vague on that). Staffed by varying numbers of people. Very much ahead of its time, I think.

  254. Southeastern Passenger says:

    @Malcom They are thereotically able to. I presume everyone here has realised the whole point of the scheme is to reduce staffing costs. It’s being sold as improvements for passengers when it looks to be about merging station host and gateline roles into one. This is why it’s been done at stations where there are roles to merge (or would be once ticket gates are operating) and ungated stations are left untouched.

    Overall I think quite a few stations outside of peak times it’s not unreasonable to have one person watching the gate and selling tickets to the few people who need them. The peak may be another matter altogether.

    In practice it sounds like several of the newly gated stations (part of the franchise agreement, along with first to last staffing) may be awkward arrangements. Some of them won’t handle the large numbers of people for peak trains and the plan is apparently to open the gates if/when congestion builds up.

    @PoP The station host times look to be the same as the service times for Loughborough Junction. There simply aren’t trains before 6am or 9am on Sundays. The Sunday morning service is rather surprising, the first train is at 9:05am to Sutton, with the first direct to London being at 10:17am (the same physical train as the 9:05, it’s just gone round the loop)!

  255. ChrisMitch says:

    Considerable work was done at Tooting in the lead-up to the appearing/disappearing gates:
    – ATM removed from forecourt wall
    – cycle racks removed from forecourt
    – ticket machines relocated to previous cycle rack location (outside)
    – gates installed
    then after about 2-3 days, the gates were completely removed, and ticket machines and cycle racks restored to their previous locations.
    Seems like a bit of a c*ck-up to me…

  256. RayK says:

    Read ngh’s post 9 June at 13:19 for a full explanation of appearing and disappearing station equipment.

  257. Pedantic of Purley says:

    RayK, ChrisMitch,

    I think ChrisMitch is querying the removal and restoration of the ATM and cycle rack to previous locations. I can see this making sense though.

    It sounds like it was just removal and reinstatement e.g. no mention of subsequently bricking up ATM gap. If you have a critical phase of work scheduled you don’t want to find on the day that you can’t unbolt the cycle rack or there is something critical preventing the ATM being removed. A dummy run helps reduce exposure to risk.

  258. Greg Tingey says:

    WW, CXXX, & Malcolm
    This, reported yesterday “Safe system of work”?
    I think RAIB will be interested, to say the least.

    [The accident was during maintenance work, and therefore not directly related to the interface under discussion. There was a train involved, and an interface, but strictly speaking, no passenger. Obviously injuries to anyone under any circumstances are to be deplored though. Malcolm]

  259. Philip says:

    According to one of the London Transport design books that came out recently, passimeters were abandoned because they were considered too vulnerable to armed robbery.

  260. ngh says:

    Re Chris Mitch,

    At Tooting there isn’t suitable cover out the front of the station for ticket machines as touch screens don’t like rain hence a permanent move would need some kind of canopy (or something functionally similar) constructing outside. Have they removed the advertising hoarding phone box?

  261. ngh says:

    PS the GTR bill for station gates will be at least £3m this year hence delaying the delivery and installation as long as possible!

    The plan looks like soft roll out of ticket office and gating changes from late summer

  262. South Coast Ed says:

    @PoP 9 June 2016 at 14:29

    Both your links are to the same document. I wonder if you meant this for the press release?

    I had not spotted the announcement about introducing Oyster style PAYG smartcard ticketing before. I assume this means an upgrade and expansion of “The Key”.

    [Oops yes. Now corrected. PoP]

  263. ChrisMitch says:

    @ngh, Tooting
    not sure if the phone box was moved too, but I am glad the ATM is gone, as its ‘innards’ created a huge obstruction next to the door.
    The work certainly looked like more than a dry run, and I would have expected by now that experience with ticket machines shows they work sub-optimally outdoors (one of the reasons I don’t like touch-screen phones)

  264. Mike says:

    SCE/PoP: and what a strangely worded press release that is! All passive and in the third person about what GTR can/will be able/is committed to etc, rather than the straightforward this is happening. Why would they want to distance themselves in this way from what they’re trying to sell as improvements?

  265. Pedantic of Purley says:


    Most press releases seem to be in the third person nowadays. Makes it easier for lazy editors to uncritically just copy and paste – which is what they want.

    The wording is in response to changes to the plan requested by London Travelwatch. The deeper message is that it isn’t what we wanted to do but we have listened to you and gone along with your suggestions. Expect further changes when GTR declare that it is a success, customers love it etc.

    It all has the feeling of being a half-way house. What sense is there in removing ticket sales staff from Purley but retaining them at Coulsdon South? And opening ticket offices between 7.00 a.m. – 10.00 a.m. at various locations doesn’t really make much sense. You still have to open up and close down so it isn’t just 3 hours and in any case, if you have full time staff, you might as well do a full shift for the small additional marginal cost.

  266. Malcolm says:

    PoP says “you might as well do a full shift [in the ticket office]”.

    That assumes that ticket office staff can’t (or won’t or shouldn’t) do other kinds of work around the station for the rest of their shift. Which may well be the case, I suppose, I don’t know how far skills overlap.

  267. Malcolm,

    It is also a case of what benefits are there? By implication the person in the ticket office is not the only member of staff at the station. Even if another member of staff came on duty as early as 5 a.m. there would be no real cost saving by closing the ticket office at 10.00 a.m. rather than midday – assuming staff were full time and split shifts are not worked.

    I am all for getting rid of ticket offices where they are not really necessary and maintaining them when they are. I am just saying the proposed arrangements don’t appear to make sense unless part-time staff are involved or the intention is to show how little the ticket offices are needed so that they can be closed in future.

  268. Purley Dweller says:

    I always feel sorry for the lonely person in the ticket office at Reedham. I’ve never actually seen anyone buy a ticket there. Apparently they do reservations so next time I happen to need one I’ll go there. Could be some time though!

  269. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ PoP 0918 – there is absolute sense in closing Purley but keeping the others open if you are TSGN. As your later reply suggests if you can achieve “proof of concept” at Purley then everywhere that is quieter is immediately for the chop. That is undoubtedly DfT’s plan and TSGN are just the willing obedient slaves of the Department in enacting a massive cost cutting / terms and conditions slashing / brave new railway world. Whatever is achieved on TSGN will become the template for everywhere else (to varying degrees).

    It wouldn’t quite be so bloomin’ stupid if there was a rational ticketing / technology / customer service strategy for the full railway but there isn’t. It’s all balkanised or “devolved” away into nothingness so no blame can be attached to the DfT. At some point someone is going to make a monumental error in respect of National Rail ticketing provision which undermines long established principles and all hell will break loose. I can see it coming with the nonsensical approach to NR smart ticketing and the implied “killing off” of the paper ticket.

  270. Greg Tingey says:

    Wholeheartedly agree re. paper tickets.
    Look at the external sales that “our” station (WHC) makes, never mind local ones for people confused by the machines.
    Then there is the “Print your own Ticket” for longer-distance journeys [ &/or get it printed out at your local station ] – I would much rather have one of those than a supposed electronic ticket on my ‘phone thank you, as I think there are far too many possibilities – fer somefink to go ‘orribly worng

  271. quinlet says:

    Airlines have been managing electronic tickets for many years now, to the extent that paper self-printed boarding passes are now mainly for passengers’ reassurance rather than anything else. I certainly haven’t flown anywhere with any bit of paper for at least 5 years and rely on my phone for all ticketing. If the airlines can do it why is it beyond the wit of train operating companies?

  272. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Quinlet – I am happy to be corrected but I understand the airlines have very long established arrangements around ticketing and reservation systems, technology and international standards. The need to support code shares, airport / flight security and other issues has meant that, by and large, they’ve adopted standardised technology and interfaces. The railway certainly has not done that very widely. There is no one really pushing very hard on any of that. The inability of national railway administrations to offer properly integrated and easily retailed international rail tickets is a clear illustration of institutional rigidty, an unwillingness to share skills and ideas for the greater good of the overall rail market and a lack of understanding what passengers might like. The airlines have also had competitive pressures to drive down costs and this has also pushed the take up of standardised, low cost technology which relies on the user providing some of the technology (PC, internet link, phone). A clever way of moving cost from airline to customer.

    The railway has long endorsed in house developed, closed systems. I’ll happily admit to having been involved in some of those like the ticket gate coding standard and Oyster. The overriding issue was about preventing fraud and the system being prised open and exploited. That’s fine up to a point and technology was very different back then. We are now in something of a different world with vastly better technology and vastly higher expectations. The failure of the railway and bus industry to make ITSO smartcards work seamlessly across the country (even within the large bus groups) is a key illustration of government and private operators being unable to deal with basic issues. It’s not difficult – the railways invented the clearing house concept in the 1840s to deal with revenue allocation issues. The fact that DfT have just given up with ITSO and left each company to do its own thing is, being polite, very poor.

    The railway has a very long way to go to emulate the best practice of the airline. The other big problem is that people have long establised “rights” with rail ticketing like break of journey, open ended (to a point) tickets, no compulsory reservations (generally in the UK) which are fairly easily handled with paper tickets but not with smartcards or smartphones or bank cards. Is anyone prepared to see those long standing terms and conditions torn up in order to support a techno whizzy future? The other likely downside is that passengers could pay more for many journeys and would have a far greater level of personal responsibility for complying properly with the new technology. That’s quite a hurdle to get over and I think the lack of progress is indicative of the industry’s reluctance to deal with those issues and manage the inevitable “fall out”.

  273. Malcolm says:

    To WW’s list of difficulties I would add the issue that many rail fares are under £10 or so, where some of the per-journey overheads of the air ticketing system would be awkward. But in fairness, quinlet did not suggest that rail do exactly the same as air, just that if airlines can manage without paper, then perhaps one day rail could do so too. I would agree, but I think it will be a long time coming. ID cards, anyone?

  274. Old Buccaneer says:

    Malcolm I suspect ID cards are off topic but*:
    1 the de facto ID card for UK citizens is the passport which ‘leaks’ data to anyone with a suitable transceiver within 50 metres. Such transceivers are readily available. Good choice, UK & EU governments!!
    2 an alternative is a driving licence which is not readily machine readable but does combine a photo, date of birth and an address.
    3 bank cards are useful but:
    a the contactless ones can leak data (see 1 above) and this can cost the user money -now up to GBP 30 per day.
    b they don’t carry a date of birth (though German ones do; an interesting example of the different politics of identity)
    c the main associated data is not held by the authorities, as the bank is the issuer.

    There is no obligation to hold any of these tokens in UK. However I imagine the number of UK citizens who have none of them is small if not very small.

    All these tokens can be forged.

    Mobile devices are useful but may not be uniquely identified with a human being (biometric security, eg fingerprint, notwithstanding); they leak an *awful* lot of data particularly but not only location data; much of this data is readily available to the authorities. And of course you have multiple possible failure modes, leading to a lack of trust. ‘Forgery’ is also available here, but a cheaper option is disposable “burner” phones.

    * the more we use CCTV as a “safety and security” tool, the more we’re going to need to identify the people caught on camera.

  275. Old Buccaneer says:

    Turning to tickets and technical change, both of which are pretty central to any discussion about the role of railway guards*.

    1 airline ticketing is not really comparable because:
    a it has to be grounded in international agreement
    b absent international agreements, international civil aviation just won’t work (refuelling, anyone?)
    c such agreements are multinational, complex and technical, so tend to be negotiated by particularly knowledgeable and intelligent people.

    2 the difficult thing about managing technical change is dealing with vested interests; this makes for an ugly conjuncture of the technical and the political. One might think that navigating this conjuncture is a core competence of Whitehall officials, elected and unelected; it seems that this is not the case, at least at DfT in the matter of the introduction of ‘smartcards’.

    3 senior management at the big transport groups do not seem to have been noticeably (or significantly) more successful in setting a group wide policy, covering all geographical areas and both rail and bus modes. At least, if they have set a policy, they have had considerable difficulty implemming it in a timely manner, or at all.

    4 TfL: long live the difference! It seems to me that TfL has a lot to be proud of in its recent track record of delivering technical change in relation to ticketing. While it has some ‘inherited’ advantages (see 5), it is clear that the organisation, from top to bottom, has made its own luck.

    5 TfL’s inherited advantages include:
    a scale: big enough to be a really interesting commercial opportunity for technical partners
    b close ties with the relevant local authority (primarily Mayor/GLA, tho’ boroughs fund 60+ cards till pension age)
    c government subsidy (though this is being wound down)
    d scope: TfL covers bus tram train# tube
    e influence over other operators (primarily suburban TOCs)

    6 Areas in which TfL appear to have ‘made their own luck’ include:
    a sharing lessons across divisions
    b being able to articulate the business case for change by analysis of management information and good use of forecasts
    c effective procurement (eg of gates and Oyster readers)
    d steady systematic upgrading (eg of chips in Oyster cards; & accepting contactless bank cards on buses and underground/Overground/DLR)
    e having a reasonably clear strategic and policy direction (specifically, in relation to ticketing and technical change)
    f implementing that policy effectively & in a timely manner
    g generally, moving forward with the support and agreement of the workforce (though the recent ticket office closures controversy is an obvious counter-example)

    7 conclusions:
    ● expect to see more automation, intelligently applied (for the most part); the automated systems will become more capable, but:
    a there will be cases where there is no business case for deployment;
    b there will continue to be a requirement for a human face at the passenger:railway interface (eg enquiries; assisting the disabled; overseeing ticket gates; etc as discussed in a number of comments above)
    ● the more expensive and difficult to manage a particular cadre of staff are, the greater the incentive which management has to reduce or replace them.

    * as opposed to Napoleon’s Old Guard, or Her Majesty’s Horse Guards and Foot Guards, last seen in these webpages in a discussion of the east west super cycleway (with quasi-obligatory Pratchett reference)
    # light railways run trains.

  276. Old Buccaneer says:

    PS: I would add as 6 h above establishing the principle that Oyster (& now contactless) is the norm (& the future) and orange magstripe is accepted (chiefly) for ‘backwards compatibility’ reasons

  277. Old Buccaneer says:

    WW: here’s a nifty potted history of IATA the international air transport association:

    Tickets and the clearing house function were on the list from the beginning!

  278. Greg Tingey says:

    I am usually forced (cheaper, unfortunately) to fly once a year …
    I have yet to see any electronic validation for any ticket, other than bar-codes on said printed materials.

    If you are a resident Londoner over 65 (or whatever it is now) you will automatically be carrying a valid photo-ID card, won’t you? Your Geriatrics Pass (!)
    If you are someone with a driving licence, anywhere in the UK, the new ones are a valid ID card, since they have your address & passport-photo on them ….

  279. quinlet says:

    I was not trying to suggest that train operators use the identical system for ticketting as airlines. Merely that, in both cases, there are a multiplicity of independent operators using a variety of media channels for access. In the case of airlines there is an additional complexity in that airports are also run separately from the airlines and, usually, individually. I can well appreciate that the concept of an integrated ticketting system in the airline industry has taken much time to develop and was reasonably in place even during the era of paper airline tickets. The key will have been the initial driver towards single systems – maybe this was IATA – the technology has followed after. With the rail industry it’s hard to see an effective driver, and the DfT’s attempts have become so focussed on technology, to the extent that ITSO has been obsolete for some years, that they have missed the point about the principle.

  280. Greg,

    Last week, I flew for the first time in quite a few years. I was really quite gobsmacked by how slick the process has become. Oystercard to Gatwick, self printed boarding card opens initial gates one encounters (could have used phone instead), through efficiently-organised security in no time to await delayed flight. On landing and parking up, we are onto waiting bus, through immigration in seconds thanks to e-passport, out of airport in 10 minutes. Almost the same in reverse.

    And, related to article, here we are in the UK with an industrial dispute about who closes the doors. In Barcelona on Line 9, which is a very deep level line, it is hard to see any staff at all. No driver, no platform staff, control room often empty. Occasional security or technical staff entering the modern equivalent of a relay room. Somewhat less impressively, this is made easier by their being very few passengers.

  281. James Bunting says:

    POP @ 0853

    As WW alluded to above, much of the cost of air travel, in a passenger handling context, has been passed to the passenger. The reservation would have been made on a computer (of some description) which you have bought. Your boarding card printed on a printer that you have bought, with ink and paper you have provided, or stored on a phone which you have purchased. Passengers will barely notice this because the cost of what you provide is shared amongst so many other things that you do with the same equipment. It does, however, mean a big reduction in costs for the airlines

    Although IATA does not regulate airlines in the way in which it used to it was the structure formed after its initial creation which established global standards which remain in many areas, even domestically. This creates an enormous advantage over rail, and other forms of travel. Rail within Europe has some established international standards although many are falling down, but that apart most other journeys are domestic and have no history of standard setting, creating an enormous mountain to climb if such standards were to ever be created.

  282. Anonymous says:

    The Gatwick Express Saga – 3rd & 4th sentences need fettling.

  283. Greg Tingey says:

    This saga has now reached the national press, with much ill-informed comment & also some much better-informed thoughts – the latter in a blog.
    It even made the Today programme, err today [ 15th June, approx 07.18 -> 07.24 ]
    What was interesting about the latter was that Croydon’s tory MP was not “blaming the unions”, but saying that TSGN were equally at fault.
    What did not appear, in either the “Standard” piece, nor the radio broadcast, was the behind-the arras role of the DfT in all of this.

    To echo PoP on another thread, it’s all a lot more complicated than many “outsiders” seem to think.

  284. Pedantic of Purley says:


    Normally I would discourage such tittle-tattle but this does seem to be an extraordinary dispute and it is clear to lots of people that the public is not being told the full story – or at least the simplified sound-bite version is a major travesty of the facts.

    ngh, Graham Feakins and I have heard much the same story from a number of sources and, of course, even Modern Railways has gone on record as saying that it is the DfT behind all this.

    It is clear, and was clear for a number of months, that this is not “just” another dispute and is all about how a future railway should be run. Dare I say it but it seems that the DfT has a vision and is determined to see it happen?

    What is also believed by almost insiders and others close to railway workings and denied by no-one is that the DfT is behind this and GTR (Southern in particular) is just the hapless piggy in the middle taking all the flack. It does seem to be the case the that give a dog a bad name, however unjustified, then it can be blamed for everything.

    What I find most baffling of all is that my local Conservative MP has seen to be hellbent on condemning “Southern Rail” (as he always calls them) at every opportunity when pretty much everything he complains about appears to be a consequence, directly or indirectly, of a decision made by the DfT. Its like watching an episode of Yes, Minister only it isn’t really funny.

    Note, I am not giving an opinion on the rights or wrongs of the dispute just saying facts are in short supply and generally misrepresented.

    I’ll stop here before I feel forced to moderate myself.

  285. marckee says:

    Stepping outside of the London boundary a little, ScotRail and the RMT are now in dispute over the introduction of DOO:

    It’s worth noting that ScotRail were appointed by Transport Scotland, and (as far as I can see) it’s a ‘traditional’ franchise, implying that in this instance it isn’t being driven by the DfT or their new contract form.

  286. ngh says:

    Re Greg and PoP,

    Even if you had any lingering doubts: GTR’s solicitors in the dispute are DfT’s normal ones (and who drafted the “franchise” agreement for DfT) rather than Govia’s!

    The judgement from the latest GTR – ASLEF injunction points in the probably outcome in a fortnight at the full hearing:

    55 …. The terms of the contracts of drivers who work on Gatwick Express are wide; and they have an implied duty to adapt to new technology and changes to working practices.

    56 … It appears to be clear that the 2013 agreement (and its predecessor in 2009) was intended to govern what happens when a conductor is not available on a train that was due to travel with a conductor. It was not an agreement which determined which trains would travel with a conductor and which trains would travel DOO.

    29 …. “Thank you for your letter of 5 April 2016, advising that you will not agree to any extension of DOO(P).

    Obviously, this is disappointing, for all the reasons set out in our letter of 31 March 2016, (which you have not commented on) however, your actual agreement is not required, although we would welcome your engagement and co-operation. …”

    Re Greg,

    Your Standard comment is completely misinformed as there is no modification to platforms, tracks or trains required as all the equipment is already on the trains involved. The drivers just do exactly what they have been doing on 377 DOO operated metro services (that typically replaced VEP operated ones) since circa 2004 (The stock is effectively a shared pool to even out mileages) where there is no guard (and similar to what they have been doing on 455s since 1991 where the difference is platform monitors etc.).

  287. ngh says:

    Re marckee,

    Scotrail: And there will be long queue to follow them south of the border shortly too in the other young franchise contracts Transpennine, Northern, GWR, VTEC. (The latter 2 are effectively on ice till IEP introduction though GWR may kick off when the first electric GWR service is operated by a 387 on GWR on an already DOO route on 5th September…)

    North of the border DOO is also referred to as “Strathclyde Manning Agreement” due to it origins with the late Strathclyde PTE.

    It will be interesting to see what the forthcoming franchise awards include (Anglia, L&SW, LM, L&SE)

  288. Greg Tingey says:

    Which comment?
    I made two, but one was a linkie, so it may have got “eaten” by the Standard’s spam-filters.
    The other one was a direct quote from a “Southern” guard/conductor, so if I am in error, it’s because my source was also in error …
    Specifically This comment.
    Um, err ….

    My own take on all of this is that it’s very sad & unnecessary, given the amount of DOO already in operation, as much-discussed back up this thread. Unfortunately, ISTM that both sides in this dispute have resorted to “willy-waving” very early on, with no real, serious negotiation in prospect.
    Someone is going to be very unhappy, whatever the final result of the dispute, that’s for certain, which will automatically reflect in the train operating statistics.
    Not that they are good now: the BBC are reporting only 13.6% of trains right-time on Monday …..

  289. ngh says:

    Re Greg,

    The standard one containing:

    “…But until the various stations that are not DOO enabled are equipped with the appropriate equipment, they cannot run DOO services to those stations.

    Network Rail have said that they cannot install the appropriate equipment as they do not have the budget or manpower to do so by the deadline…”

    is a completely wrong.

    No station equipment required as it is all on the trains concerned (and has been for 15 years), NR need to do nothing! Read the article.

    (313 and 171 operated services won’t be going DOO as they don’t have the on train equipment hence not all the guards are transferring to the OBS role)

    “Unfortunately, ISTM that both sides in this dispute have resorted to “willy-waving” very early on, with no real, serious negotiation in prospect.”

    I wouldn’t call at least 7 months into the dispute early!

  290. Alfie1014 says:

    re ngh

    Pretty much everything that is DOOable on Anglia already operates in this way; i.e. all EMU services south of Cambridge and Colchester. It could be extended to Clacton, Walton and Harwich but stations, (many of which are lightly used), would have to be fitted with the equipment as the existing trains don’t have monitors and as these services effectively operate in ‘Paytrain’ style the business case would be marginal I would imagine. What I don’t know is whether the 170s that used to operate through to Liv St were DOO?

    The biggies undoubtedly are SW and LM which are the odd ones out in the London area, we shall have to wait and see.

  291. 100andthirty says:

    RMT have today issued a dossier supporting their claims about the safety of DOO. it’s here:

    Inevitably, it’s a rather one sided view, and whilst they highlight some really nasty incidents. In effect, they claim that because more of the incidents occurred on DOO trains, then DOO is less safe. To say that this is disingenuous is a gross understatement! It is not clear from the dossier that any of these were caused by DOO, per se, or indeed whether some other method would have prevented the incident. The reports into the incidents themselves cover a whole host of issues including design of train door systems and staff training.

    Over the time that these incidents occurred there have been well over 40Bn crossings of the PTI on UK railways, possibly as many as 50Bn crossings. This is an incredibly low risk – in Health and Safety terms it’s negligible.

    The report also highlights some other incidents where the guard made a difference, again incredibly rare. It would have been better if RMT could have pointed to any incidents where the outcome was worse because there was only one person on the train.

    In my mind there are three questions:

    1) Who is best placed safely and efficiently to operate the doors on the train
    2) What are “safety critical” roles on trains?
    3) as risk assessments can’t easily deal with high potential consequence/low frequency incidents, should there, as a matter of principle be more than one safety critical person on trains – or certain types of trains? If so, which ones?

    I think the debate would be far more satisfactory if the three questions were kept separate.

    I’m making these points on the basis that there is a whole continuum from perfectly safe (stay in one’s armchair!) to completely unsafe (jump out of an aircraft at 10,000 feet without a parachute).

  292. A ROC Signaller says:

    Re: PoP
    1 June 2016 at 10:47

    Excellent article (and comments).

    Two points.

    Firstly, the “progression” towards ROCs – ie Network Rail’s National Operating Strategy – is currently in some disarray due to spiralling costs and funding difficulties. Several schemes have been delayed, postponed until CP7 or effectively abandoned and NR is considering the possibility of 30 ‘SubROCs’ as an interim measure (none of which would offer the automation or mooted redundancy of a ROC). Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that signallers may retain their industrial influence for longer than you suggest.

    Secondly, the much-trumpeted ‘back up’ facility (which will supposedly allow one ROC to temporarily run another ROC’s workstations during a crisis) has yet to be convincingly fleshed out; much less installed. It is hardly as though each ROC has banks of unused/spare workstations to cater for this possibility – or the space to accommodate them. And who would staff them? Many ROCs are already dangerously reliant on rest day working – that chestnut again – to maintain basic staffing levels. It is a good idea, on paper, but I remain sceptical that it is possible in a practical sense.

    A ROC Signaller.

  293. 100andthirty says:

    I worked with projects putting in or renewing centralised signalling control systems on another railway in the UK for many years. Each of these started with a requirement for a fully equipped back up facility, and partly due to funding and partly due to the difficulty in engineering them and keeping staff up to speed with using them, they were almost never implemented in anything other then the most basic way; usually not implemented.

    The case for back up wasn’t and isn’t helped by the fact that the control centre equipment is usually very reliable.

  294. Balthazar says:

    Re: 100andthirty – you pose your three questions as if they have objective answers on which all sides will agree!

  295. ngh says:

    Re 130,

    The RMT proof reading has had yet another incident – they refer to the crash at “Purely” in 1989 on p10.

    They also fail to mention PTI incidents that did not feature in RIAB reports, the RIAB selection is an interesting sub set. The whole PTI data set would be rather more interesting but probably wouldn’t prove their point.

  296. 100andthirty says:

    ngh…. is “Purely” as in Pedantic of Pureley?

  297. 100andthirty says:

    Balthazar…I agree, but at least we wouldn’t get all the arguments mixed up if they were separated into the three questions. For example, DOO, with the right driver aids, is safer than the equivalent using guards and is almost certainly faster. This question should be be quite separate from the issue of which trains (if any) need a second person travelling and whether that person is safety critical.

  298. Timbeau says:

    Conscious that data is not the plural of anecdote, but without a guard a train would have left all its passengers behind yesterday. Train was announced as calling at platform 2 , and shown on the boards as doing so. In fact, it was sitting in platform 1, where it had been for the last hour. It is unlikely the driver, right at the end of the platform and facing away from the departure screens, would have noticed anything amiss, and would have merrily off on time, leaving the intending passengers wondering both where this mystery train was going and when their train would turn up.
    (Of course, SWT’s tendency to terminate trains short, and lackadaisical attitude to information, were also factors)

  299. ngh says:

    re 130,

    Indeed! The dangers of spell check /auto-correct….

  300. Greg Tingey says:

    I find the errors you point out in the article I quoted v interesting, given that it was originally written by a “Southern” employee ….

    Generally, it would seem that TfL have demonstrated the effectiveness of DOO in this “region” at least, but it is essential that there are sufficient platform staff to cover (in al senses of the word) the necessary procedures.
    Discussing this in the pub last night with several railway ex-&-present employees, we came to the conclusion that the RMT have made a strategic error.
    They should have accepted the principle of DOO from the start, & then “fiercely” negotiated the very long list of safety & operational concerns.
    Too late now, I suspect.

  301. A ROC Signaller says:

    RAIB, surely?

  302. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Greg – in the context of main line services I’m not clear that TfL have done very much. They (well LOROL really) managed to get guards off a couple of routes on the original Overground network without strike action but we don’t know how much that cost. IIRC both West Anglia and Shenfield services were already OPO at transfer so no issues there. I also assume Crossrail will be fully OPO from day one of running on new infrastructure. I don’t know the arrangements for Heathrow Connect that MTR will take on in 2018.

    Yes LUL has a great deal of experience of the platform train interface and also crowd management in relatively confined spaces. The National Rail network is now having to face some of the scale that TfL faces although clearly it has other specific factors that are different to those that LU has. NR and the TOCs will have to build their own body of experience and hopefully develop industry wide strategies to deal with the risks that they face.

    I note that various politicians are making all sorts of half ridiculous statements about “holding Southern to account” “escalating the issues” etc. Perhaps they should just simply go and squat in the DfT’s offices to see what is going on there? Interesting that Go Ahead’s share price fell > £4 on the day that their trading statement said the expected margin from the TSGN contract had fallen from 3% to 1.5% over the remainder of the term. The volume of shares traded exceeded 380,000 on the day – the highest volume for a fair while.

    As previously reported, the additional resources being invested in GTR to support service delivery are depressing margins on that contract in the current year and will also impact on next year’s margins. While we do expect margins to improve in the longer term; given the very challenging performance and industrial relations environments, we no longer expect to recover the profit shortfalls and as a result margins, on an adjusted basis, over the life of the contract are now more likely to be nearer to 1.5% than the 3% previously expected.

    And to think I have to somehow get to Croydon this coming Sunday. Half tempted just to slog it out on the 109 bus as the Overground is suspended from Highbury.

  303. Jim elson says:

    Walthamstow writer. You seem to have been duped by the scare publicity about ‘nightmare’ Southern services. Get DOO Vic line either direct to Victoria where East Croydon is still brilliantly served by DOO & guarded trains,or change to DOO Thameslink south to EC,or to DOO Northern line to London Bridge & DOO & guarded trains south.
    But I am sure you know as well as me the great diversity of connections & reconnections we have in London. That is why the government & Southern must weather the media rain shower being churned up by RMT & possibly their family members.
    London has lots of alternative routes. If the government hold firm even those guarded trains will all be able to run after July if the guard fails to turn up. But this Sunday you don’t have to trundle south on a slow DOO bus.

  304. 100andthirty says:

    WW……I am almost 100% certain that Crossrail (aka….) is DOO with platform cameras and cab monitors, rather like LU’s preferred technique. This has been forced on Crossrail because vehicle body cameras would show a rather unhelpful image of a narrow gap between train and platform screen doors at the sub-surface stations.

  305. Graham H says:

    @Jim elson – whenever I see the national news, the “anti-Southern” /must hold the operator to account movement seems to be fronted by the local Tory MPs – perhaps they, too,are in the pay of RMT and their families? [Only a cyncic would suggest that they are being encouraged to do this by DfT to deflect attention away from the puppeteer]

  306. Greg Tingey says:

    Graham H & others
    The misdirection continues
    We can see the strings, why can’t everyone else?

  307. Graham H says:

    @GT – I don’t know why the TOCs don’t break ranks – it is possible that there is some gagging clause in the redacted part of the franchise agreements but an aside from Sir Douglas Corridor is more likely.

  308. timbeau says:

    @WW/Jim Elson
    Or Highbury – (LO) – Stratford – (DLR) – Lewisham -(SE) – Elmers End – (tram) – Croydon, if you want to avoid TSGN altogether!

  309. Malcolm says:

    Given the (relative) cheapness these days of electronic bits, could Elizabeth Line possibly use vehicle body cameras outdoors, and platform ones underground, the image from the appropriate one being displayed on in-cab monitors?

  310. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ J Elson – to be strictly accurate I have not been duped by anything “official” from anyone. All I have seen is a few tweets from *passengers* who are clearly at their wits end and I’ve looked at the volume of cancellations on the NR website. I have also seen a bit of reporting from BBC London who generally try to provide some balance and Tom Edwards is reasonably knowledgeable and aware of the main issues. What I cannot afford to have happen is to get to Victoria and then be faced with 1 or even 2 cancellations because on Sunday frequencies I will be late for a ticketed, timed event in Croydon. The alternative is to give myself a really quite ludicrous time margin to allow for cancellations and general chaos. The other problem that I’ve only just twigged is that it is also London – Brighton Bike Ride day on Sunday which is also likely to bring the pains on with the train service. It is just my bad luck that work at Whitechapel for Crossrail has suspended the ELL service otherwise I’d just have used that and not worried.

    I am reasonably conversant with NR services in S London but am not an expert. The Bike Ride will also disrupt bus services in various parts of S London which causes added complications when considering alternative routes.

    @ 100&30 – thanks for the reply re Crossrail. Makes sense given the use of PEDs.

  311. 100andthirty says:


    I thought about adding the point about inside/outside, but wanted to stick to what I believe is being done.

  312. Sad Fat Dad says:

    WW – a significant proportion of the cancellations are local services along the Sussex Coast; presumably these are hit hardest as they all need a conductor, and have a much lower revenue impact (and thus penalty regime in the franchise and track access contracts).

  313. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ SFD – thanks for the info. I opted for Southern and the trains were OK. On arrival in Croydon there were announcements about Thameslink services being cancelled – glad I didn’t opt to go via St Pancras. I took the slow train and tube home and found a West Croydon that was incapable of telling people a revised service was in operation nor provide working electronic displays. We did get announcements about 1 min before a train arrived. You’d have thought that the numerous closures and possessions would have allowed the info provision to be perfected by now. 😉

  314. Bluesman says:

    There were lots of Southern cancellations yesterday so the trains that did run were packed full. Affected East Croydon and South Coast routes. Sounds like you were lucky @WW.

  315. Del_tic says:

    The first Class 700 was in service today. leaving Brighton only a couple of minutes late at 10:04

    Mods: You can move this to whichever thread you think most appropriate

  316. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Deltic – however due to a myriad of problems on the Southern network it ran late into LBG and then even later heading south and had to be curtailed / turned at East Croydon on its next round trip. If there is a Cl700 on the same workings today then it seems to be doing much better time wise but I expect it’ll be packed given the issues on Southern today.

  317. ngh says:

    ASLEF have now settled with GTR to avoid 3 days at high court next week:

    (2) The Defendant accepts that the Claimant is contractually entitled to require drivers employed on the terms and conditions as described in paragraphs 11-14of the Amended Particulars of Claim to drive 12 car DOO(P) on Gatwick Express Services.

    (3) The Defendant accepts that the collective agreements between it and the Claimant and its predecessors (including the 2009 and 2013 agreements) do not preclude drivers employed by the Claimant being contractually obliged to drive 12 car DOO(P) trains on its Gatwick Express Services.

    ASLEF accepts that:

    (i) The court has held and ASLEF accepts that GTR is contractually entitled to require drivers employed on the Gatwick Express services to drive 12 car DOO(P) on Gatwick Express Services and that no collective agreement prevents drivers employed by GTR being contractually obliged to drive 12 car DOO(P) trains on its Gatwick Express Services.

    (ii) ASLEF will not call members to take any form of industrial action in reliance of the ballot which closed on 23 May 2016. Any such industrial action would not be lawful.

    (iii) ASLEF will not call members to take any form of industrial action in opposition to the operation of DOO(P) trains in formations up to and including 12 cars on Gatwick Express services.

    A copy of the court order and the above communication can be viewed on the ASLEF website.

    Also see my previous comment on the injunction:

  318. 100andthirty says:

    ngh… this the first crack in the joint ASLEF/RMT joint policy of no more DOO – (where they were acting in King Canute mode)?

    Given the percentage of all UK trains that are operated in DOO (to include LU, Tyne and Wear, etc), there must be >70% of ALL trains already DOO.

  319. Sad Fat Dad says:

    @130. 70% of passengers perhaps, but not 70% of trains.

  320. Sad Fat Dad says:

    @ngh. Given the judgement, there can only be two conclusions of why it went to court. Either ASLEF (and their lawyers) didn’t understand the contract, or they were trying to make a political point. Either way, it is rather a waste of what must be seven figures worth of their members’ cash.

  321. Pedantic of Purley says:

    According to Scotrail in their case it is 59% of passengers so 70% of passengers overall sounds about right to me.

  322. ngh says:

    Re SfD,

    It went to court because GTR took ASLEF there, ASLEF seemed surprised by the stiffness of GTR’s actions and didn’t fold quickly enough, the second injunction hearing where some law was actually discussed in depth showed that ASLEF’s case was weak and then they obviously started talking and reached the conclusion in 7 days to avoid the full hearing at the High Court next week. The judgement reasons in the second injunction seems to show ASLEF’s interpretation of employment contracts wasn’t correct and hence their negotiating stances and tactics where inappropriate, the key difference being consult vs agreement and game theory would suggests very different tactics for negotiating given the reality of the key assumption.

    The other main nasty shock was obviously:

    “55 …. The terms of the contracts of drivers who work on Gatwick Express are wide; and they have an implied duty to adapt to new technology and changes to working practices. ”

    which turns the other pillar of their stance on its head – change and adaptation is the default.

  323. ngh says:

    DOO stats – 70% of passengers

  324. timbeau says:

    “As a result of all the above in the past examples of Driver Only Operation were few and far between. In fact, the only known example was the famous “Tea Run” on the District Line.”

    Are you sure? A discussion on District Dave is casting doubt on that statement.

    It is possible, I suppose, that it ran unofficially without a guard (the guard staying behind to make the tea, perhaps!)

  325. Pedantic of Purley says:

    I am sure I read in a reliable book an emphatic statement saying there was no guard. Of course, I can’t find the reference now.

  326. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Found a reference but I don’t think it was the one I originally used.

    Alan A Jackson London’s Local Railways 1st edition 1978 page 368

    “Tunnel-type telephone wires, allowing the driver to cut off traction current without leaving his cab, were erected alongside the line on concrete posts during 1938. This paved the way for one-man operation. Two ‘G’ stock driving motors (4167 and 4176) were accordingly modified to operate as double-ended units; each had air doors worked from the driving cabs, two 240hp motors and 44 seats. This single-car working, known to staff as ‘the Pony’, ran between 6.00am and around midnight”.

    I suppose it didn’t actually state that the trains were one-man operated but I am pretty sure another account I have read did state this.

  327. KitGreen says:

    An excerpt from “Steam to Silver” (J Graeme Bruce, 1970 London Transport publication) regarding the South Acton shuttle:
    It was decided to convert two 1923 stock cars for this duty, one in service and one on standby……..
    The work that was carried out at Acton Works late in 1939 also included the fitting of air-door control but the cars, being intended for one-man operation, had a special interlock circuit which prevented traction control being obtained until the driver had shut himself in the cab.
    Because the train service was one-man operated, a pair of emergency telephone wires previously installed only in tunnel sections was erected alongside the shuttle track in 1938.

  328. Graham H says:

    @PoP – does anyone know whether the two Met double-ended cars – 2768 and 2769 – were also DOO? [Given that they worked on rather more heavily travelled services than the S Acton shuttle, I imagine a guard was required, but I can find no description of their operation}. BTW, It seems that the two District cars may have retained hand operated doors to the end, which would seem surprising in the absence of a guard, but then times were different…

  329. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Graham H,

    I don’t know much about rolling stock and even less about historical rolling stock.

    I don’t understand your comment about hand operated doors given included the fitting of air-door control.

    If the Metropolitan had double ended cars when and where were these around? I am presuming the could not have been DOO unless both track circuits and tunnel type wires were installed (given the necessity of these for the Acton shuttle). I have never read about any other early DOO operation so I presume there was none.

  330. Edgepedia says:

    PoP & Graham H,

    The two Met Shuttles were converted from motor cars in 1910, and they seated 36 third and 16 first class, with 50 per cent in smoking accommodation. They were used on off peak shuttle services to Uxbridge , Addison Road (Kensington Olympia), Rickmansworth to Watford and then Stanmore to Wembley Park, before being withdrawn in 1939.

    Bruce has no indication if a guard was carried.

    (Source: Steam to Silver, J Graeme Bruce 1983 p. 66)

  331. Malcolm says:

    I would imagine that on any service with intermediate stations, a guard would be considered necessary, as a driver, even now, cannot be reasonably expected to leave (and secure?) the cab to check the doors at every stop. (And presumably these cars had at least 4 doors on each side, given Edgepedia’s description). A shuttle with no intermediate stations is different, inasmuch as the driver has to leave the cab at every stop anyway (to change ends).

  332. Malcolm says:

    (Actually, playing back my memories of watching tube guards, they did not always leave the train or even stick their heads out (though I think they were supposed to). They often seemed to just watch a little purple light.) (Memory refreshers are still available between Ryde and Shanklin).

  333. Twopenny Tube says:

    @ ngh 23 June
    Where an employer seeks to change the terms and conditions of employment, there should always be due process of negotiations and accommodation of reasonable alternatives or objections. This can apply equally to explicit terms, and to things which one or both parties consider to be implied. I do not know enough about the specific situation under discussion here, to offer more than a general comment; just because a person, or organisation loses in court, and that outside observers (often armed with hindsight) think it was a lost cause, does not necessarily mean the argument was not worth airing.

    As to what the court here found (in an interim judgement) as an implied term in the contracts in question, a duty to adapt to new technology, there can be quite reasonable resistance and challenges to the way employers try to implement explicit terms like “mobility clauses” and “gagging clauses”. Likewise, implied terms that can cut both ways, for employer and employee, such as “trust and confidence” will sometimes cause disagreement and legal argument.

  334. ngh says:

    Re Twopenny Tube,

    There was apparently a circa 6 month period from October 2015 where unions (more the RMT) refused to engage in consultation / negotiations before heading towards strike action when GTR said you’ve had your chance to engage and haven’t therefore we are moving to impose.

  335. Graham H says:

    @PoP – I had only speculated about airdoors on the S Acton cars because I couldn’t find a conversion date; I have now done so and it would appear that they were converted as part of the same programme as the rest of the ex-District G stock. The 2 Met cars would presumably have been saloons and as they served a number of intermediate stops on the Stanmore /Uxbridge runs, they may well have carried a guard. [I cannot remember the methods of despatch for Met saloon stock, although the compartment stock required a guard to make the contacts on a pair of external wires to give the signal; – I’m afraid my only memory of Met saloon stock is it running round the Circle with the (hand) doors open in the hot weather and at the tender age of 3 I paid little attention to the role of the guard….]

  336. Pedantic of Purley says:

    To follow on from ngh’s latest comment, I did mention the need to “move with the times” in the article but didn’t go into detail.

    Subject to reasonable consultation and necessary training, one is expected to embrace a modified way of working as technology changes. Probably the best example is the introduction of computers into the office environment and the courts ruled that workers not prepared to work with the new technology to better do the job they were employed for had effectively sacked themselves. I don’t think they even had a case in arguing they had been made redundant and were entitled to redundancy pay.

  337. ngh says:

    Re Twopenny tube and PoP,

    They apparently declined 3 rounds of consultation opportunity.

  338. Latecomer says:

    Given some of the discussion in this thread readers may be interested in the RAIB report into the Hayes & Harlington incident which occurred in July 2015 when a woman was dragged along the platform for 19 metres after her hand became trapped in the doors. I strongly recommend reading the whole report, not just the summary. There are several interesting factors relating to the Platform/Train Interface, the visibility of the dispatch corridor from DOO monitors (contrast the images from the platform monitors to that displayed by the station CCTV shown in paragraph 68). I have great concern that the driver had been using a mobile phone in the cab at various times while driving the train even though there was no evidence that this was an immediate causal factor in the actual incident. It is very explicit in the rulebook now that use of mobile phones in the driving cab is prohibited and as far as I’m aware most TOC’s were dealing with this issue robustly.

    Nevertheless there are several other factors relating to ongoing assessment of driver competency and the impact of external stress factors on our role. The subsequent testing of the class 165 doors was a revelation. Paragraph 45 refers to post incident door testing when a volunteer was asked to try to attempt to remove I) a hi-vis vest II) their fingers III) their hand from the closed doors. They were unable to do so on all three occasions. There are also major issues about how both passengers and rail staff appeared to believe that the train would be unable to move with something trapped in the doors. For me as a driver it made for an eye opening read. At some stations trying to move the train without someone raising their hand to press a door button is near impossible. We have to be sure once we have obtained interlock that we have successfully distinguished between someone that has raised their arm after our safety checks are complete and between someone who we might have missed as our eyes were drawn to a different monitor or to another distraction. The situation where you think that everyone on the platform has boarded but you get that last runner who arrives in a split second is terrifyingly familiar as they literally seem to appear out of nowhere.

    I continue to feel that for all the learning points for the TOC’s and for drivers, far more needs to be done regarding passenger awareness and education about the dangers of attempting to board, or to prevent the doors from closing once the hustle alarm is sounding. A sobering read:

  339. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Latecomer – I’ve not read the report and am not likely to. I agree about the public awareness point. This is something LU has focussed on for many years on the top event risks that affect passengers. Hence all the notices and posters about taking care when intoxicated, “minding the gap”, “yellow lines”, “falls and trips on escalators”. People may feel they’re being hectored at but these are genuine risks and the potential injuries from an incident are life changing.

  340. Mike says:

    Latecomer: agreed that passenger education is needed, but what is really alarming is the inaccurate perception of door operation by FGW staff, so much so that the story of the intending passenger, who had just been dragged for 19 metres along the platform by an accelerating train and suffered multiple injuries, was not believed by the first three members of staff that it was reported to because they they thought that the incident as described couldn’t have happened (as did the driver). Despite being informed of the full nature of the incident immediately it took FGW four days to appreciate its seriousness, by which some evidence had been destroyed.

    WW: as you could see from the report, there were relevant warning signs on the doors, but they failed to get the message across – who reads (let alone understands) such notices as they’re running for a train, particularly when even the operators’ staff don’t understand the basis for the warning?

  341. AlisonW says:

    The expectation that by placing a hand between the closing doors they would automatically re-open is, I suggest, a facet of our usual regular experience with a different-located set of similar days many people see every day which *do* exhibit this reaction.


    I’m not aware of _any_ lift manufacturer whose products do not automatically release and retract when something (hand, clothing) is trapped. Because this has become so much the expectation of paired doors closing the same response is presumed when pairs of doors close elsewhere, such as on a railway.

    I’d be interested to know whether there is any statistical difference between people trying to prevent the closure of double-leaf and single-leaf doors.

  342. AlisonW says:

    “differently-located set of similar doors”. Sheesh, my typing is getting wurst.

  343. Fandroid says:

    I am really not surprised that this perception of a lift-style reaction from train doors is almost universal among passengers. I cannot possibly count the number of times I have been on a crowded Tube train at a station and the ‘mind the closing doors’ warning has been given and then the doors have been closed, reopened, closed, reopened and then finally closed and the train set off. That sort of thing is an everyday occurrence and really does give the impression that door response to blockages is automatic and that the power to the wheels is interlocked with the doors being fully closed.
    Lift doors do have some sort of double sliding system so the sensitive edge hits the obstruction before the main part of the door completes the closure. It could be a classic example of an automated system that is inherently safer than one which relies on human intervention.

  344. AlisonW says:

    Having now read the whole report I can see mention is made of the lift door comparison. I’m not sure that “warnings” however will work. As people go about their daily lives we are used to ignoring sounds we feel aren’t ‘relevant’ to us, like sirens and even fire alarms, and being told to “mind the doors” doesn’t have much (any?) impetus behind it.

    I recall that I was much more aware of closing doors on the Paris metro with the horn and then the slam.

  345. Malcolm says:

    It would also seem to be a classic example of how making one thing safe can have difficult-to-predict effects on the safety of something else. Every widespread introduction of any safety feature is liable to raise expectations. Passenger-operated doors on heritage railways may one day have to be banned for similar reasons (“I assumed that the handle would not work until the train had stopped”). Childproof car door locks may delay teaching children appropriate door-opening precautions.

  346. 100andthirty says:

    The lift vs train comparison is interesting to say the least. I have been away and haven’t yet had a chance to read the full report.

    Looking back many decades, lifts used to have fairly basic doors – often lattice style – and were operated by attendants. There was no form of sensitive edge. Lifts have very many ways of catching out the unwary (ignoring the truly awful paternoster lifts, and as attendants have been removed from lifts, legislation and standards have been enacted which demand the sensitive edge (action to reopen if operated) in lieu of the observed closing.

    This hasn’t been transferred to trains for a whole variety of reasons – the door closing is observed by the driver, guard and/or station staff, and there is acceptance (like the comment from Latecomer), that firm closure is needed if trains are ever to depart.

    However, all this needs a very clear view for the mk1 eyeballs of the observers to deliver safety. Personally, I don’t believe some of the current procedures are fit for purpose in today’s world, both Guard and DOO.

    Will increased crowding and increased public concern about safety generally cause things to change? I don’t know but railway authorities will have to look.

    For information, LU’s most recent trains – both Victoria Line and S stock operate like this:

    * If a door is obstructed during closure – it will reopen unless the doors are nearly closed. This is sensed by the electronic controllers for the door motors
    * When the doors are nearly closed, this obstacle sensing is disabled so that doors closing against each other aren’t sensed as obstructions
    * If a thin object – a hand or coat or scarf – is trapped, the door can still be sensed as closed. However attempts to pull out the object will trigger electrical contacts in the rubber door edge and apply the emergency brakes.
    * In general, if this happens, the driver will be able still to check the view of the train in the train monitor and to determine whether anyone has been dragged or whether the item activating the sensitive edge is attached to someone already on board. If there is no sign of anyone attached, the driver can over-ride and carry on; in other words the driver gets a second chance for a calm check.

    This improved safety has come at the cost of numerous false positives which can cause significant delay. Thus LU has been developing a revised design that responds to things being tugged from outside only and doesn’t respond if tugged from the inside. This is far from trivial!

  347. Fandroid says:

    Thanks 100andthirty. It is comforting that Tfl seem to be on top of the issue and are addressing it. I suppose that other operators have generally only recently begun to experience the constantly crowded platforms and overcrowded trains that LUL have suffered for decades.

  348. ngh says:

    The tender documents for the new SW franchise were published at the end of last week has specified all new rolling stock has to be DOO capable when delivered and a few mentions of Driver Controlled Operation too.

    Any new-build rolling stock must be fitted with the equipment necessary to enable the trains to be operated in Driver Only Operation (DOO) in Passenger mode.


    e) Initiatives to improve train service operations in ways that will generate long-term passenger benefits or operational improvements that will continue to accrue after the end of the Franchise Term. This could include the implementation of Driver Controlled Operation (DCO). Where DCO is proposed, the Department would require the franchisee to undertake appropriate consultation (with passengers and the workforce) including about supporting the continual development of the professional skills of on-train staff, in particular in relation to the on-board customer service passengers attach most value to.

  349. Greg Tingey says:

    All very well, but the TSGN ( GoViaThameslink) franchise is a relatively new one, so that particular “out” can’t be used on their routes [ Unless, of course the guvmint takes the keys away, which from discussions back up this stream shows is extremely unlikely, to say the least.]
    Let’s see what today’s hearings produce in the way of light, rather than heat, shall we?

  350. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Greg – seems the TSGN management strategy is to say it’s all Network Rail’s fault for rebuilding London Bridge. Oh and it’s a really difficult franchise to run. I am left wondering why the heck Govia bid or put the current management team in place if they can’t do the job. They’ll be telling us next the government didn’t provide sufficient info during the bidding stage about the risks or London Bridge works. I guess the next step will be to deny that Ms Crowther didn’t really work for BR and Network Rail for decades and that she really has no clue about infrastructure projects despite being a NR route director. What an utter mess.

  351. ngh says:

    Re Greg,

    But I was commentating on what is proposed for the next SW franchise (the next huge battle for DOO) rather than any thing at TSGN.

    An back to the GTR dispute:
    Southern have now released the emergency timetables:

    While there are cuts to services with guards there are also a significant number of DOO services cuts in the London area for example Tulse Hill – London Bridge is cut from 5tph (Reduced service level because of London Bridge rebuild) in the peak to just 1tph between 0730 and 0930.
    I sense a London Assembly TC hearing over this.

  352. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Walthamstow Writer,

    I am sure this is an unpopular view and not one generally held but, with one exception, I really don’t think GTR have done much wrong. They inherited a bad situation (which the DfT should never have allowed), things at London Bridge did go wrong that weren’t GTR fault and despite assurances that it would all be fine. Their big mistake was not to listen to Network Rail and push for more trains to run into London Bridge.

    GTR now seem to be getting the flack for basically implementing government policy. Despite all this they still manage to be forward thinking and are trying to improve things in other areas – but no doubt they will get a lot of flack for that too.

    Where I do tend to agree with you is that I do wonder why on earth anyone was prepared to take this franchise on. Easily forgotten in this part of London is that it is basically the same people who ran the previous Southern franchise quite well. This cannot be explained by a sudden attack of collective incompetence affecting people who a few years ago seemed to be able to run a railway pretty well.


    In some places the emergency timetable seems pretty drastic with either hardly any through trains or hardly any trains at all or no GTR trains at all. Evidence, if evidence was needed, that this looks like not being a typical average industrial dispute, but something that is going to last a long time.

    With no strikes currently planned, it looks like the situation will continue as it is until at least the second half of August when new working conditions will be imposed.

  353. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Ngh – it looks to me, with my horrible old cynicism, that the cuts are designed to pile pressure on MPs who have been piling the pressure on Southern! The entire axeing of the M-F East Croydon – Milton Keynes service and forcing people to change about 4 times if avoiding Z1 is ludicrous. If passengers have been daft enough to buy Southern only advance tickets then they’re being forced to fork out for the tube separately in order to reach Euston. This is all designed to create a huge anti-union backlash while TSGN go “we had no choice” and the DfT repeat their “position” [1] of “we don’t really agree with this and haven’t signed it off”.

    Some politicians need to start asking some really picky detailed questions about the processes that control franchisees and who has to sign what off and what the financial and performance measurement consequences are. I can see why a TOC might have a degree of timetabling flexibility to respond to genuine emergencies (accidents, bad weather, failed infrastructure) but I don’t see these service cuts as being in that category. I can’t believe DfT have not “signed off” a timetable variation as part of managing the franchise given they hold the revenue risk on TSGN. The DfT’s paw prints must be all over this.

    I agree that certain London Assembly members will be infuriated by these changes but it will simply show that the Mayor and Deputy Mayor for Transport have no power whatsoever to do anything about this dispute other than to call for rail devolution to happen faster.

    [1] I’d use another word here but the lawyers would probably be knocking on the door pretty quickly.

  354. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ PoP – I understand the points you make but I’m not sure I entirely agree with some of them. Your point about “pretty good Southern” becoming “diabolical disastrous Southern” is something I’ve long thought about especially as a former boss of mine has worked / works for both versions of Southern! I could offer some theories as to why it’s gone to pot but I’d have lawyers chasing after me.

    The franchise is far, far too big and while I understand the logic of wanting to have one operator on the Thameslink core I’m not convinced about the rest of the structure. This was DfT’s making as was the decision to proceed with the major Thameslink scheme. Most people thought First Group were incompetent with their management of FCC but it just goes to show things can get even worse than that. I don’t think FCC ruined Great Northern quite as well as TSGN seem to be doing for example. I remain convinced that this is all about unstated government policy and that is what is forcing the appalling decisions being made. It’s clear that some of the TU positions have been confused and lacking in clarity and rigour.

    However I still think there is the major issue of platform / train interface safety and how it is affected by booming patronage growth. I am not at all convinced that the National Rail structure can really manage this as effectively as LU do. The infrastructure / rolling stock / operation split and mulitiple TOC policies and a fracturing Network Rail structure are not conducive to well understood, rigorously enforced *national* standards in this area. The unions could and probably should change their tactics and emphasis if they want to put others on the back foot. It is demonstrably clear to me from the informed “front line” staff comments provided on this blog that are very real risks and concerns that are not being handled as well as they should. This should lie at the core of properly reviewing staff roles, safety management, catering for growth and ensuring investment delivers the right answers. At the moment it’s turning into the railway version of the Miners’ strike (an ideological battle) and that will do no one any favours.

  355. Anonymous says:

    Re who is best placed to open the train doors: its got nothing to do with whether this should be the guard or the driver – according to the Evening Standard – its about “driving down costs”. If true, then this will be putting the public at risk surely? This government seems obsessed with confronting the transport unions – and like TfL, reducing staff levels. Costs, pensions etc. But they don’t talk like this – its all about “modernising” with gives it a better sell to the public.

  356. Greg Tingey says:

    “TSGN” are taking all the flack, including industrial action & a royally-peeed-off customer base, on DfT’s behalf?
    Is removing a service altogether a good idea? Will the traffic ever come back?
    I won’t go any further as there are some very rude words to be said about the whole thing.

    I can’t believe DfT have not “signed off” a timetable variation as part of managing the franchise given they hold the revenue risk on TSGN. The DfT’s paw prints must be all over this.
    Funny, that!
    We can see it. quite clearly, I presume some MP’s can too, but not a whisper in the mainstream, press, where everyone is blaming the unions/TSGN

  357. ngh says:

    Re WW,

    Delay repay will be payable vs the normal timetable so not allowing the Z1 route for MKC – ECR would cost the TOC/DfT more! Southern have said there will be acceptance with other operators in place.

    I would expect TfL to be screaming with 45% peak capacity reduction on WLL services and them taking the flack from their regular passengers who aren’t able to board.

    Ditto increased loadings on ELL at Peckham Rye and Denmark Hill (several bus routes up the hill from East Dulwich) so LO will probably be unboardable at Queens Road Peckham (if not Peckham Rye). And on a linked point will GTR pay for Oyster users extra bus and tube use to get from East Dulwich to London Bridge.

    Re Anonymous 1449

    But what if you could do it both safer and cheaper?? see the section of the article “London Overground does it controversially” which covers the London Overground experience of doing both.

  358. Greg Tingey says:

    Oops, I forgot.
    Where/when will the Parliamentary Select Committee hearing/findings be found on this?

  359. ngh says:

    Re Greg,

    This morning select Ctte performance from RMT and GTR:

  360. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Ngh – and who funds “delay / repay” in a franchise where the revenue risk sits with the DfT? I don’t imagine the franchisee will take the full hit for doing what the client requires. I bet there are some fascinating “off the record” discussions going on between the top brass at Go Ahead and Uncle Patrick as well as at other levels. I wonder how many “comfort letters” have been signed off as well.

    If I was LOROL I would already be kicking TfL’s door down asking for relief from my performance obligations where Southern’s actions are about to cause LOROL’s peak services to collapse. Oh and it already takes people 6-9 peak buses going past to be able to board a bus in Dulwich towards Denmark Hill. I imagine it will now go into double figures before people can get on a bus. That’s going to damage the bus operators’ earnings as well. TfL are going to come under a lot of pressure from their contractors as a result of the fall out from this. I doubt LU are happy with the potential consequences on parts of the tube.

  361. Jim Elson says:

    The holidays are soon upon us so there will be less rush hour pressure on Southern. That combined with the new timetable should enable them to hang on until late August when at last they won’t be so reliant on guards. I want Southern to succeed. DOO has proved successful & safe all over Europe on a very large scale,plus of course the overground & underground, & for years short & long distance commuter services in Glasgow & every terminus in London bar Waterloo & Euston. It is absurd RMT are even given the time of day with spurious safety arguments. Thousands of travellers lives will be improved after August when trains won’t have to be cancelled if the RMT member fails to come to work. If Southern are brave enough to ride the storm soon their services could be best in the league table.

  362. Timbeau says:


    How would that damage the bus operator’s earnings? Even if they were collecting the farebox revenue (which they are not, they are paid per bus run, whether it is full or empty), a full is a full bus. It gets the same revenue whether it leaves five people behind or fifty.

  363. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Timbeau – agreed it’s nothing to do with fare revenue. Everything to do with regularity of service and headway. If you suddenly get a surge in passengers then you get extended dwell times as people try to fight their way on board. This risks the operator’s ability to keep to headways. It also increases the risk of buses running so late that they have to be curtailed in order to get back on time. This means longer gaps at one end of the route plus a loss of mileage operated.

    TfL improved the frequencies on the 176 and 185 to try to cope with a growing patronage problem in the Dulwich area. All of that capacity has already been used up. If you get a diversion of rail passengers to buses you worsen an already poor situation. The other likelihood is that the peak spreads as people shift their journeys to stand a chance of being able to travel. This further increases the risk to the bus companies of extended dwell times, delays and curtailments. Their payments are determined on the level of excess wait time achieved plus the mileage operated. If the peak is operated consistently badly then it will affect the numbers despite all the aggregation etc within the formulae. I wouldn’t be saying there would be increased risk if the buses had some spare peak capacity. This change in circumstances is outside of both the operator and TfL’s control but they have to live with the consequences as do the passengers.

  364. Graham Feakins says:

    Here are two examples of the ’emergency service’ from next Monday to/from Peckham Rye and London Bridge for at least the following four weeks:

    There will be nothing between 17.11 and 18.08 from London Bridge towards Peckham Rye…. and nothing between 08.33 and 09.34 from Peckham Rye to LBG…. .

    We users of that route used to have 6tph off peak and 8tph peak on and off the route via Tulse Hill not that long ago but since reduced to 4tph and 6tph, respectively. Now to be reduced to c. 1tph in the peaks! No South London Line, either, because LO has taken over that bit of Southern for its own purposes (Clapham Junction – Surrey Quays and beyond).

  365. timbeau says:

    @Graham F

    presumably it is precisely because of the new route to Surrey Quays (and thus LBG via the Jubilee Line) that they feel a direct service can be thinned out so drastically. Whether everyone will fit on the LO/LU services is another question of course!

    had politics turned out otherwise, there could have been a tram service between Peckham and central London, on a more direct route than the trains, by now.

  366. Graham Feakins says:

    @timbeau – It’s probably more of a question whether the present five trainloads of passengers on 8-car trains approaching Peckham Rye per hour on the various routes from the south will be able to fit on the already packed remaining service to London Bridge (if they are prepared to wait for it), not forgetting that there will no longer be a service anyway between Tulse Hill and West Norwood and that brings up its own problems, especially for the intermediate traffic.

    ngh kindly provided me with this distilled timetable:

    1tph in peak, 2tph off peak

    To London Bridge:
    from North Dulwich: 6:53, 7:27, 8:27, 9:28
    from East Dulwich: 6:55, 7:30, 8:30, 9:30
    from Peckham Rye: 6:58, 7:33, 8:33, 9:34

    Coming back home from London Bridge:

    16:10, 16:40, 17:11, 18:08, 18:51

    And that’s it! It’s rather like looking at a timetable dating from c. 1864.

    Re. trams – I agree, of course.

  367. Fandroid says:

    I recently saw a Metro headline stating that commuters had lost their jobs due to the Southern rail disruptions. No reason to think that scenario is untrue. These timetable changes could seriously put many more jobs at risk.

  368. Latecomer says:

    I always look forward to the summer holidays because it gives us 6 weeks of respite. It looks as though that isn’t going to happen for LOROL drivers this year. It does make a difference if we have just a few weeks without door blocking and lengthy dwell times. I suspect that Monday will seem like an early autumn.

  369. Graham Feakins says:

    @Poor latecomer and other drivers! I have every sympathy. I fear it’ll be like an early autumn plus the effects of a go-slow and a work-to-rule of yesteryear all rolled into one on the routes to be affected. Let’s hope that Southern can amend their plans before it is too late.

    Put on your best uniform and keep smiling because I think the press will be out in force in and around the Peckham area during the peaks on Monday.

  370. ngh says:

    The RMT is now balloting GTR station staff on the proposed station staffing changes. Some of which are similar to the LU ones but many station will get first to last staffing after the changes and more gating at stations.

  371. Anonymous says:

    They’ve decided to install a gateline at Flitwick, which will no doubt cause chaos when it opens. It’s right across the middle of a very small waiting room / ticket office, with only two single doors in and out. And they’ve installed a gate on the entrance that goes directly to the top of the foot bridge from the road bridge, which will no doubt be locked when the gates are in use. Meaning 50% of users will have to walk an extra 300 yards or so round to the ticket office and then back up the footbridge stairs to travel 1 metre sideways. Given the hoard of people that can kick out from certain evening peak trains, anyone trying to get IN to the station at the same time will be completely out of luck.

    Personally I am hoping there’s a riot the first day and BTP tell them in no uncertain terms never to try it again.

  372. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Anon 2335 – having looked at the station plan and photos on the NR website I agree that gating at Flitwck is lunacy. I can’t believe it’s passed any sort of capacity check / local risk assessment or discussion with the fire brigade. Schemes like this give ticket gates a bad name.

  373. Greg Tingey says:

    WW / Anon
    This is a real SAFETY issue.
    [ That foot-bridge case sounds really dangerous ]
    ISTR there was a similar problem at, ahem, Walthamstow Central … until the Rail Safety “peoples” were informed …. (cough)
    Perhaps, before it’s too late, this tactic should be tried again.
    It should be essential to take clear photographs ( A good phone camera will do, though) & take measurements (Standard builders-tape in pocket) make a few notes & then scream at inform the relevant authorities.

  374. Greg, Walthamstow Writer,

    Maybe, but I also remember everyone was screaming about Loughborough Junction when subsequent investigation showed extra building work would mean the layout would be completely different to that speculated. On the other hand, Walthamstow Central can show how far these schemes can get.

    Seems that the first stage is to get absolute confirmation of what the scheme actually entails. Then go into overdrive if the worst fears are confirmed.

  375. timbeau says:

    “Meaning 50% of users … have to walk an extra 300 yards or so round to the ticket office ……………to travel 1 metre sideways. Given the horde of people that can kick out from certain evening peak trains, anyone trying to get IN to the station at the same time will be completely out of luck.”

    Welcome to my world – and it’s just as bad in the mornings here, as we get a lot of people travelling in to go to college or work.

  376. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ PoP – I was working from the description of the proposed layout that was given. It’s pretty clear from the NR site that the ticket hall is small as are the doors in the building. Even though the doors will constrain flow to and from the gateline that’s a pretty poor way to deal with things. While I can see why GTR would want to seal off the bridge entry point to force everyone through the gateline that will cause congestion issues based on the likely flows off long trains. It also, prima facie, reduces emergency egress unless GTR do something clever which works in an emergency but is not open to routine abuse (not easy to do).

    If GTR are going to knock down the ticket hall and start again with more walkways and more open entry to / from street and platform sides then I take back my criticism – assuming the capacity is sufficient for the passenger flow. Something tells me they won’t be going to that level of expense.

    The aspect I find concerning, and have done for a long while, about NR gating is the restricted hours the assets are put into use, that many layout designs are “dubious” (to put it politely) and that there doesn’t seem to be a joined up process in terms of design nor in getting ticket coding to work consistently across all TOCs. Now I accept I am speculating here about processes as I don’t have access to each TOC’s company processes nor NR’s. It’s almost as if ticket gating has become a philosophy or “article of faith” that is beyond criticism which is a ludicrous position for a revenue protection asset.

  377. Anonymous says:

    @WW Given that the gatelines have already been installed inside the existing ticket office, and an extra (single) door added on either side, it doesn’t look like they’re going for a knock-it-down and start again. I’ll try to grab some photos on the way home this evening.

  378. Anonymous says:

    ” It’s almost as if ticket gating has become a philosophy or “article of faith” that is beyond criticism which is a ludicrous position for a revenue protection asset.”

    I completey agree. Flitwick is a suburban commuter town, and not exactly a hotspot for fare-dodgers. All this will do is annoy a large number of people and cause congestion where none is needed.

  379. Alan Burkitt-Gray says:

    “Flitwick is a suburban commuter town, and not exactly a hotspot for fare-dodgers”

    You mean unlike these people:

  380. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Anonymous, Alan Burkitt-Gray

    I suspect you are both correct in your own way. The fare dodgers at Flitwick are probably few but the ones that are habitual offenders probably deprive the railway of a lot of money. Peak single fare to Farringdon is £21.30.

    Whilst a long way from Bedford, it could otherwise be a tempting drive for someone keen not to pay their fare and thwarted at Bedford by the ticket gates.

  381. timbeau says:

    “Flitwick is a suburban commuter town, and not exactly a hotspot for fare-dodgers”

    A former colleague of mine who commuted from Flitwick knew of fellow travellers who considered a day return to give them (and their family) carte blanche to use the trains as many times as they wanted to in a day.

  382. Malcolm says:

    There is really no need to try to guess about the specifics of Flitwick. On revenue grounds, a financial case for gating is at least plausible at every station on the national network, apart from the very quiet ones. I don’t think any station with enough users to raise congestion or safety concerns qualifies as “very quiet” in this sense.

    Congestion or safety concerns on their own are sufficient, of course, to call into question any particular gating scheme. But when raising such a question, or making such a challenge, guesses about numbers of fare-dodgers should really play no part, in my view.

  383. ngh says:

    Flitwick -I’d be very surprised if the official passenger numbers and revenue didn’t both increase after gating is operational…

  384. ngh says:

    And back to the subject of guards…

    The RMT has just called a 5 day Southern guard’s strike covering Monday 8th to Friday 12th August inclusive.–southern-gtr280716/

  385. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Malcolm – and you will note that I made no such observation about fare dodgers. I am more than happy that people pay the right fare / have the right season ticket. It was my job for the better part of 15 years to work to that end. My concern is that the entire concept of ticket gating is undermined by inadequate, poorly planned and poorly operated schemes. The dodgers know when they get switched off so adjust their journey times and the people who do pay their fare get cross when they see new equipment not being used to its full effect and the dodgers still able to evade their fares. To coin an old adage “there is more than one way to skin a cat” and there is more than one way to manage fare evasion and fraud. Note that’s a general remark and not specific to any station.

  386. ngh,

    This is getting really serious then. Our next pub night is the 11th.

  387. Southeastern Passenger says:

    On GTR ticket gating, most of it is contained in the franchise agreement (in such length that posting here is not appropriate). Essentially it boils down to gating the most used stations which aren’t already gated (over 1 million entries/exits).

    These stations are “Alexandra Palace, Bexhill, Caterham, Cricklewood, East Dulwich, Elephant and Castle, Enfield Chase, Flitwick, Gordon Hill, Hornsey, Loughborough Junction, Mill Hill Broadway, New Barnet, Palmers Green, Portslade, Queens Road Peckham, Radlett, Sanderstead, Tooting, Wandsworth Common and Winchmore Hill”. If they can’t get approval, then they have to put ticket gates somewhere else.

    @WoW You’ll be happy to know the agreement also includes the requirement for “all day staffing” and that the gates are in operation at least 80% of the time. As I understand it, it’s this requirement which prompts the station host proposal, minimising staffing costs by having the gateline + ticket selling role done by the same person. Whether GTR will manage to comply with all these requirements is a different matter.

    From the sounds of it several places the gates will need to use their congestion mitigation measures. In most cases I suspect it would be that the gates are opened at points during the evening peak to reduce crowding. Regardless of this I’d agree with ngh that the usages are likely to increase after gates are operational.

    How this relates to removal of guards is clear, GTR are trying to minimise staff costs wherever possible. In some cases this may be reasonable, but overall it may well mean there are fewer staff checking tickets.

  388. Greg Tingey says:

    that many layout designs are “dubious” (to put it politely)
    Ever seen Carshalton station, especially in the PM rush?
    Oh dear.

  389. Anonymous says:

    As passenger numbers increase, surely this is time for maintaining staff numbers, not decreasing them? Sure, just a driver can open the doors of a train, and of course, by getting rid of guards this will be cheaper, increase profits in the long-term for TOCs – but there are a number of issues worthy of more consideration, notably concerning passenger safety, and the difficulties facing the elderly and disabled?

    “According to the British Transport Police, between April and December 2015, there was a 40% increase in reports of unwanted sexual behaviour on London’s tube, rail and bus network, compared to the same period in 2014 . . .”

    “According to the Annual Safety Performance report by the Rail Safety Standards Board (2014/15), between 2010/2011 and 2014/15 incidents of assaults and abuse on trains increased by 33% from 1082 to 1442, and at stations the increase was 12% from 1,286 to 1,446 incidents. Will cutting staff make our travelling experience safer? I don’t think so . . .”

    “Passengers with disabilities have also expressed the importance of staff on trains and at stations. A survey for Action for Rail by Survation (2013) found that on trains, some of the main benefits of staff are: enhancing personal security and safety (93%), and help with getting on and off trains (73%). At stations some of the main benefits are: enhancing personal security and safety (61%), and providing travel information (60%). Nearly one quarter of those surveyed (23%) said they sometimes or often feel unsafe and threatened on trains, and 29% said the same for stations. Shockingly, over a quarter (27%) had experienced a hate crime and/or abuse on a train or at a station – a figure which increased to 43% for wheelchair users. We still have some way to go to make the rail network safe and accessible – and loss of staff on trains would make travel difficult for 75% of the passengers surveyed, while loss of staff at stations, would make travel difficult for 81%.

    “Driver-only trains make the railways inaccessible for many disabled passengers. Without staff to help us on and off trains, many disabled people will simply be forced off Britain’s rail network. Southern Railway should not be making it harder for us to use trains. We support the strike.”
    – Ellen Clifford, Disabled People Against Cuts

  390. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Southeastern Passenger – thanks for that extra info. It looks to me that someone has gone “oh anywhere with >1m pass per annum will be worthwhile gating” which is a rather silly way of looking at things really. As this is a franchise requirement I assume this is set by the DfT. I wonder what work they have done to identify the fraud and evasion hotspots on various routes? I wonder what layout and costing work was done to determine a business case? We did all this work on LU in advance of seeking funds for implementation. We initially did busier “hot spot” stations but then moved more towards infilling sections of line to ensure areas were fully gated with no “holes”. This was strongly supported by Line Management who wanted the extra ticket receipts money in their budgets. Obviously many LU stns are closer together than on NR but the basic concept should still have value. In a similar vein gating termini or Z1 stops (for Thameslink) obviously make sense given the huge volumes involved.

    The other thing I’d query slightly is that 80% “up time” for gates looks a little uninspired to me. Obviously you have to have some allowance for gates being powered off if staff have to attend to other duties or an emergency. However if you paying for extra staff coverage and trying to make their working methods more flexible I’d expect 90+% up time to be a more reasonable target level to “incentivise”. If you want the money then the things have to be kept in service to act as a deterrent. Still it’s easy for me to comment sitting in an armchair at home. 😉

  391. Sad Fat Dad says:

    Southeastern Passenger: I’d say gating those stations has very little to do with the guards > on board supervisor changes. Principally because of the stations listed, only Bexhill, Portslade and Sanderstead have trains calling that have guards. That leaves aside the principle that an on board supervisor has much more time to check tickets, rather than worrying about closing doors.

    In a franchise contract that sees all revenue going to the DfT, gating is a (relatively) quick and cheap method of increasing revenue.

  392. quinlet says:

    I can’t see how a guard who shuts himself away in an unused cab, or ticket office staff shut away in a ticket office will actually help prevent any of the types of incident you mention. It seems to me that the whole point of the changes proposed (as they stand at present) will be to get staff into areas where the public are to the maximum which would then prevent or reduce the types of incidents mentioned.

  393. timbeau says:


    The effect of the changes will be as you suggest, at least in the short term. But the unions, rightly or wrongly, are suspicious of the de-skilling of the guard’s job, and in particular the further extension of the technical possibility to run a train with no crew other than the driver.

    So the unions expect that trains will not be cancelled for lack of a conductor, as they have to be if no guard is available. And that means the operators will not need to employ as many staff to provide cover for that contingency.

    Crewing levels on trains have only ever gone in one direction – once upon a time there would have been two men on the footplate, and a brakesman on every carriage, and a guard as well! Even the early tubes had gatemen on every car.

    And reduced staffing levels means reduced union membership.

    Although Govia is making the news, Scotrail is also experiencing strikes – the next on Sunday – with diesel-operated services disproprtionately affected as most electric services are already OPO. Buses are substituting for all services in the Highlands except the Perth-Inverness route, so good luck if you are going to Mallaig or Thurso.
    (This is on top of the reductions that have been in place since March whilst Glasgow Queen Street High level is closed for upgrading)

  394. ngh says:

    Re Quinlet,

    Indeed the whole point is that the staff are much more hands on and visible rather than hidden away. The key point is a fair number of stations (Southern, GN and TL) the staffing level will increase and will soon be a first to last service. At my local (DOO since 1991) station that will actually benefit wheelchair users for example.

  395. Briantist (in Gigabit internet heaven) says:


    Another point, perhaps, is that the “staff behind glass” is a very old-fashioned way to operate a business. It’s not the way my HSBC branch works, not the local cinema, nor my courier’s office. Not the local gym. Not even the local police station.

    But it once would have been.

    I’m guessing I would have to go as far as Royal Mail sorting office to find somewhere other than a railway station that would be like that.

    I can’t help thinking that as a customer/passenger on railway, the “subliminal signal” that people hiding behind glass says “this place is a dangerous one: be afraid”.

    If you want to send out the message that a railway place is a safe place for yourself, your loved ones or your business, having people around smiling and making real human contact is powerful psychologically.

    The related fact that it also discourages fare evasion is a useful bonus.

  396. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Quinlet – I suspect the concern is related to the general direction of staffing policy for many years. It’s mostly been about reducing numbers and closing facilities and substituting technology. Making staff “flexible” tends to mean they are not in consistent locations on stations because they are “roving” around. I expect people with disabilities much prefer the certainty of knowing a person will be at a given location, like a ticket office, at any time. This means they are reassured about where to go in a station to seek help. My limited experience of LU’s “flexible” staffing is to find gatelines left running but unattended and staff not being visible at all at certain times.

    If staff numbers are cut to 1 person on duty and they have to sell tickets, staff a gateline etc there is a reasonable chance they would not be available to, for example, deploy a ramp to allow a wheelchair passenger to board or alight from a train. I think it’s clear from the GTR consultation that some stations would be reduced to 1 person on duty at certain times. If stations were fully accessible and boarding was always level with minimal gaps between train and platform edge then many of these concerns would go because assistance would not be needed. However we are a very, very long way away from that on National Rail, LU and Overground. I’m not advocating having legions of staff doing nothing but a reasoned and balanced task allocation with allowance for more involved transactions / providing more focussed assistance would tend to suggest having two people on duty – at least where there are frequent train services and decent numbers of people travelling.

    I don’t find it acceptable to use deep level tube stations with escalators, lifts and gatelines and have no staff visible at all in the ticket hall. I’ve seen this more than once on the Victoria Line. Given the scale of the train service we now have and booming usage levels I think this is just wrong. I accept there may well be staff elsewhere but why do passengers have to play “hunt the staff member” if they require assistance? I’m saying that as an able bodied passenger. I don’t know how it must feel if you struggle to cope with escalators or are in a wheelchair and would like help. It’s about a proper balance between cost and customer service whereas I suspect GTR’s motivation is about cost cutting only and that’ll be supported by the DfT so they can roll the concept out into other franchises. I certainly don’t view the GTR approach to be the same as what TfL have done on the Overground and TfL Rail.

  397. ngh says:

    Re WW,

    In many cases on GTR (especially Southern Metro land and TL Wimbeldon Loop) it is being increased to 1 at many times of day!

  398. Purley Dweller says:

    To be fair, Southern metro land is well staffed thanks to the intervention of the mayor in the previous franchise. Even Reedham has a lonely member of staff in the ticket office all day.

  399. John Bull's dog says:

    Briantist writes: “Another point, perhaps, is that the `staff behind glass’ is a very old-fashioned way to operate a business. It’s not the way my HSBC branch works”

    I went into my local HSBC branch yesterday, and there were “staff behind glass”.

    And, by the way, a lower cost railway means we can have more railway.

  400. Briantist (in Gigabit internet heaven) says:

    @Walthamstow Writer

    “deploy a ramp to allow a wheelchair passenger to board or alight from a train”

    It is interesting that only a very tiny number of rail stations are even now in a “Turn Up & Go Trial’

    ‘Passengers can still book assistance at these stations and we will still prioritise pre-booked assistance, but the Turn Up & Go trial network should help you to have slightly more choice about how you make your journeys over the coming months. ” –

    The NRE site says, for example at Stratford:

    “This is a London ‘Turn Up & Go Trial’ Station – Train operating companies generally advise disabled passengers to book assistance 24 hours before travelling. By contrast, a ‘Turn up & Go’ service offers assistance to disabled passengers whether they book in advance or not.

    Some passengers already opt to ‘Turn Up & go’ but currently for a period of a few months a ‘Turn Up & Go Trial’ is running on journeys between 36 specified National Rail stations in the Greater London area, to understand if in future a formalised ‘Turn Up & Go’ service can be offered here. Passengers can still pre-book assistance at these 36 stations, should they wish. For more details including the stations involved visit Disabled Persons Railcard” –

    There’s a map here –

  401. Malcolm says:

    Briantist says (quoting an NRE site) “Some passengers already opt to ‘Turn Up & go’ …”

    Hmm. This looks a bit like trying to squeeze the stable door shut while most of the hindquarters are on their way to freedom. There are obviously two sides to this, but my sympathy is really with an assistance-requiring passenger who would rather enjoy, along with anyone else, being able to make journeys without meticulous advance faffing around. Either we (society) are serious about trying to treat everyone, including those with disabilities, equally (even if it costs some money at the edges), or we are not.

  402. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Briantist – just because other businesses have stripped a load of cost and replaced it with technology / worse service does not automatically mean everyone likes it or wants it. You seem to be pretty comfortable with technology and that’s fine but not everyone is. Some people like choice to be retained and others want the ability to deal with human beings. I have yet to see “flexible” staff work proactively with beaming smiles although I have a small sample of tube journeys from which to draw my observations.

    @ Ngh 1529 – customer service was cr*p / non existent on the old Thameslink franchise non shocker!! 😉

  403. quinlet says:

    I agree with you that the main question is how many staff are deployed in customer facing positions at any one time and there is clearly a trade off between numbers and cost. But the question is also how and where they are deployed. Sitting behind a glass screen in a ticket office (and usually very reluctant to come out of that office even when someone needs help) is not as effective a deployment as elsewhere. I understand your point about people with disabilities wanting certainty about where to find staff, but I don’t think it’s true for all such passengers. Wheelchair bound passengers are just a small fraction of those with disabilities and, again, if there is money available for staff to be relatively unproductive in an office this needs to be assessed against whether this is the best use of that money for people with disabilities. I guess partially sighted people, for example, will much prefer staff on the gateline.

  404. Malcolm says:

    I don’t think the reluctance to come out of the ticket office (for what may seem like non-urgent reasons, anyway) is necessarily the clerk’s choice. Precise rules and directives may vary from TOC to TOC and station to station anyway. But I agree that other ways of using that staff member’s time do exist, and it is good to see them being considered. Trouble is, it’s very hard for outside observers to distinguish between innovative ways of serving the public better, and innovative ways of saving the TOC some money to hand out to its shareholders.

  405. ngh says:

    Re Malcolm,

    There is far less cash handled by the ticket offices in the oyster area these days (similar to banks example) and hence far less reason to need security due to far lower volumes of cash being handled and stored. I wouldn’t be surprised if my local station (inc TVMs) handles more than tenth of what it used to.

  406. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Quinlet – and yet there are models elsewhere in the UK (Merseyrail) and in Europe (NS) where ticket offices have been remodelled to become multi functional retail facilities. They can sell you a rail ticket, a chocolate bar, a newspaper and give you a bus timetable if you want. I suspect some of the community lines on the UK network may have something similar which has rescued the ticket office facility but also brought in other footfall to the station. Not everyone has to sit behind a glass window but clearly you need to ensure staff are safe and not prone to a higher risk of robbery and assault. It would just be nice to see some genuinely innovative thinking that gave a better, more broadly based solution rather than job cuts disguised as something else.

    It is also worth noting that the National Rail ticketing structure and the decades of “fafffing around” we have had has resulted in something that is virtually impenetrable to the average passenger presented with a self service ticket machine or a website. Not every product can be retailed via a TVM either. Seemingly the TOCs themselves can’t specify or ensure that TVMs present fares and prices in a clear and logical fashion. The never ending criticism of rail fares in the media and customer satisfaction surveys and the equally never ending “we will fix this” responses from the DfT show the system’s broken. I do feel these moves to remove ticket offices is another nail in the coffin of national ticketing and of impartial retailing. We will wake up one day and find in reality that we no longer have national rail ticketing. We will have TOC specific ticketing available in local areas plus a few through tickets on main corridors to major cities and people will be required to rebook somehow when they need to use another TOC’s services. No doubt we’ll be encouraged to do this via smartphones. I don’t view this as acceptable but the utter failure of DfT in ensuring a proper ticketing and retail strategy and the abandonment of any concept of even regional, never mind national, smart ticketing shows the paucity of ambition and inability to deliver. Technology creates a difficult backdrop but it’s not impossible to cope with.

  407. RNHJ says:

    The Merseyrail TOC is 50% Abellio (The foreign arm of NS), hence the approach taken there which is now well established and does work successfully so far as I am aware from local feedback. There was a trial on the same basis at Leatherhead which I remember using on the odd occasion. It lasted a few years I think but I have no idea why it wasn’t continued or used elsewhere.

  408. quinlet says:

    I have, indeed, seen the same person selling tickets, sweets, coffees, etc at St Ives. But that person is not a member of railway staff but a cafe which happens also to sell railway tickets. You could also buy a ticket from the conductor on the train. If we are worried about losing staff numbers this may well be a way in which some TOCs go. In which case the level of support to passengers will be further reduced as it effectively produces an unstaffed station.

  409. Greg Tingey says:

    Letter in the current issue of “Rail” from an anonymous member of “Southern’s” staff.
    The new proposed rules mean that the new conductors won’t be able to simply collect fares from passengers who:
    1- rushed for the train @ the last moment /
    2 – found the ticket machine not working /
    3 – ditto the permit to travel machine

    Apparently a penalty fare will be mandatory.

    The union are, quite rightly, IMHO, worried about the safety of their members from justifiably-irate members of the public, being treated like criminals through no fault of their own.
    Question – [SNIP]who thought, or rather didn’t-think of that brilliant idea?.

    [ Personal note: I know this situation is not that common, but, about 15 years back, it happened to me, however, under the rules then applying, I was able to convince the barrier-staff at exit that I was genuine & “here is your correct fare” … ]

  410. Greg,

    We have been through this before. You are basically just repeating yourself.

    See your earlier comment.

    So I will refer to my earlier reply which still stands.

    It is all still rumour and speculation. No-one has been able to reference anything definitive.

  411. Greg Tingey says:

    OTOH, can we get some definite information on this? As opposed to the “rumour & speculation”?

  412. Londoner in Scotland says:

    It looks as if Abellio and the RMT are approaching agreement on the DOO dispute in Scotland and RMT expect this to set a precedent for elsewhere. See

    Note particularly the final sentence of the RMT circular: “Once this proposal and the method of dispatch are agreed it will be adopted for the Abellio ScotRail franchise and will apply beyond.” Presumably “and will apply beyond” means “We shall expect/require Southern to agree to this as well”.

    Southern answers to a different paymaster, of course, so may see things differently.

  413. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Londoner in Scotland – and the railway’s political paymasters are of very different hues in London and Edinburgh. I wouldn’t be shocked if some downward pressure had been applied in Abellio’s direction from Holyrood.

  414. ngh says:

    Re Londoner in Scotland,

    And how are the RMT commenting on Scotrail apparently having evidence of the RMT organising illegal pre-strike action?
    (The even more recent press release)

    An RMT spokesperson said: “There is a threat of a legal challenge that RMT will look at in detail before we respond formally.

    “This latest move shows that ScotRail are keener on interfering in workplace democracy under the cover of the anti-union laws than they are in dealing with the issues of rail safety at the heart of the current dispute. ”

    See the initial cost of that when ASLEF got stung on GatEx. Their response sounds like they know they have been caught at it.

    The Scotrail proposal includes Conductors NOT operating the doors. That is a potential massive white flag to raise if the RMT agree,,,

  415. ngh says:

    Re WW,

    As Scotrail provide guards for the Serco run Caledonian Sleepers, there has been some large and expensive collateral damage.

  416. Pedantic of Purley says:


    The Scotrail proposal includes Conductors NOT operating the doors. That is a potential massive white flag to raise if the RMT agree

    So one could look at it in two ways.

    1) The RMT have scored a significant victory by insisting on a second safety-trained member of staff on each train other than those already DOO operated. They will want to use this a marker for other disputes.

    2) The forces behind this dispute on the management side (whoever they are) would have gained a major concession from the RMT (if the proposal is accepted) that makes the RMT’s future argument on having the guard close the doors even more implausible. At the same time, there is no reason for commitment to a second person on the train in Scotland to necessarily set a precedent elsewhere. In the big scheme of things, a small concession in Scotland to further undermine one of the RMT’s basic tenets would be price worth paying.

    Something that keeps cropping up is the comment from MPs and commuters in Southernland is that, regardless of whether or not they would prefer a second person normally present, they would prefer a train to run without a conductor than have a last minute cancellation because no conductor were available.

    Of course, the proposal hasn’t been accepted yet.

  417. Something that just has not been mentioned in this dispute is the desire of any government for life to continue as normally as possible in the event of a major threat to our economic well-being. Or to put it another way, our resilience as a society to major disruptive events. There is actually quite a lot of legislation to ensure new critical infrastructure is made as resilient as necessary (e.g. by back-up systems, duplication or simply building above any conceivable flood level) but nothing, as far as I am aware, of ensuring we do not require critical services to be reliant on people whose essential need could be eliminated.

    Removing the mandatory need for a guard would help considerably if, for example, a major viral epidemic swept the land and led to 20% of people being off sick at any one time. It would also help in times of extreme disruptive weather.

  418. ngh says:

    Re PoP,

    I suspect the Scottish situation will have little bearing on the GTR one.

    The DOO clock is ticking (<18days) on Southern till DOO goes from 40% to 75+% of services* so there is even less reason for GTR to cave in the have to survive 13 working days and the RMT is on strike for 5 of those.
    The end date in Scotrail is far longer so RMT are in slightly stronger position there (The first new electric services aren't till the end of the year).

    *Even more in passenger numbers terms.

  419. Greg Tingey,

    OTOH, can we get some definite information on this? As opposed to the “rumour & speculation”?


    In particular Checking and selling tickets and Revenue protection, including the issuing of penalty fares. I take the “including” to mean that other options are available e.g. validating Oystercards and Keycards.

  420. Greg Tingey says:


  421. Purley Dweller says:

    Southern conductors have always sold tickets to ticket less travellers in my experience. It’s the revenue protection officers that only issue penalty fares.

  422. Purley Dweller says:

    Not that I am ever ticket less. I actually had two a couple of weeks ago having validated oyster instead of my Key card at Redhill.

  423. Anonymous says:


    “I can’t see how a guard who shuts himself away in a cab . . .”
    On SWT trains, I see guards walking through the trains on regular intervals. I see them helping the disabled onto trains. In Yorkshire, I’ve noticed them selling and checking tickets, opening & closing doors, helping the elderly etc. I think a lot of the public see this as well.

    And generally . . .

    Staffing levels are being reduced as passenger numbers increase – and added to this the increased threat of terrorism (think of the knife attack in Leytonstone tube, and the recent attack on the train in Bavaria, and now an incident in Russell Square). How does reducing staff make the railway safer? Some people might say, but they’re not reducing staff, they’re are “redeploying” them to “better serve the public”. But TfL got rid of 800 people with the ticket office closures – they didn’t redeploy them. And people see less and less staff at stations – during the day, let alone at night when they travel home.

    I suspect that many people are concerned that if something kicks off on a train – on in a station – that there won’t be anyone there to help. And I’m not talking about Kings Cross or Waterloo, but many of London’s stations in the suburbs. Remember, its not just adults and able-bodied commuters on the way to work on an average day, but children travelling to school, the elderly, the disabled etc. If something happens on a train, what if the driver is incapacitated? I’d like to know the risk assessment for this, say on a crowded train with say 1000 people on it – or in a tunnel, or by a busy main line, with fast trains passing. How many know how to get off a train in an emergency? Or deal with an emergency?

    @John Bulls Dog
    “A lower cost railway means we can have more railway”
    Surely it means more profits for the TOCs? The railways are not a public service – they are a private business, whose intent is to make profits. Reducing staff levels will help maximise this.

    The Evening Standard recently said this whole saga on Southern was about “driving down costs” – not about who can open the train doors, or the redeployment of staff. Many passengers will have heard of the controversial comments by Peter Wilkinson, a civil servant at the Department of Transport who “spoke provocatively about ‘punch ups and industrial action’ with the rail unions, and called for commuters’ support.” He also spoke about “breaking” union members and that that train drivers who resist changes to their working hours can ‘get the hell out of my industry’ ”.

    Few of the people I talk too think its all about who opens the train doors, or the redeployment of staff – think about it: when people travel home at night, they often travel to and from stations which have no staff and on trains with just a driver.

  424. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Anonymous – the counter argument about staff numbers is that no one is expected to put themselves in harm’s way. Having a second person on a train is not a preventative measure nor is it likely to stop these “lone wolf” type attacks. Ditto in a station. The alarm *might* be raised marginally faster but that’s about it. For almost everywhere on the network there will be a time lag before the emergency services arrive and take action.

    There are well rehearsed procedures that deal with trains becoming stuck away from stations including driver incapitation. These have been fine tuned and improved in the light of experience with previous incidents. The staffing decisions have been reviewed and checked and been subject to external scrutiny. A lot of clever, knowledgeable people would have to be wrong for all of these checks and reviews to be incorrect.

    The Mayor has instituted an independent review of the LU ticket office closures. I think London Travelwatch are doing that review so it will be interesting to see what their conclusions are. There is one aspect where I think LU may come to rue its decisions about staffing levels. That’s the basic one which you cite – how “safe” or “comfortable” people feel using the system especially away from the centre. It’s clear staffing levels on LU are very thin in some places and/or the actual management of the resource that is there is very poor. If crime levels rise / passenger perceptions worsen / vandalism increases then TfL may well be forced to reconsider its position in order to avoid a negative cycle of decline at certain times of the day.

    I accept some people simply believe “more staff” = “better” but that depends very much on how well motivated the staff are and how they are deployed / managed. It’s perfectly possible to have lots of staff on duty who might as well not be there for all the effort they make in looking after passengers and being proactive. We’ve all seen them!

  425. Malcolm says:

    Anonymous at 21:18 :

    I agree with most of what you say – I think very often the redeployment of staff to a different position (e.g. from a ticket office into the ticket hall), while it may be good in itself, is often also used to cover up a bit of “driving down costs”. The motives of the management who devise such schemes are probably a mixture.

    But we should remember that every organisation, public or private, is “driving down costs”. British Rail did it, and would doubtless still be doing it if the organisation existed. Network Rail does it right now. Driving down costs is not exclusive to private businesses with shareholders.

    Of course, it is possible that the existence of shareholders increases the pressure on costs. But it is not axiomatic.

    A lower cost railway could in fact mean that we have more railway. Or it could mean more profits for the shareholders. Most likely, it means a bit of each. But the balance should be suitably struck and regulated: Railtrack was probably the example of this not happening as it should.

  426. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Anonymous 21:18

    Staffing levels are being reduced as passenger numbers increase – and added to this the increased threat of terrorism (think of the knife attack in Leytonstone tube

    Surely this is an argument for more BT (and Met) police which is a completely different matter and will probably happen.

    But TfL got rid of 800 people with the ticket office closures – they didn’t redeploy them

    Let’s be a little more accurate and a little less emotional. TfL did indeed reduce staff count by a substantial number who generally took voluntary early retirement. These were generally people who worked at the ticket window and spent at least one fifth of their time carrying out duties which did not involve interaction with the travelling public (e.g. cashing up at the end of the shift and various admin tasks done when the window was shut). All the evidence is that there are more customer-facing staff. Mayor Khan has launched a review and if this were found not to be true I suspect sparks would fly.

    And people see less and less staff at stations – during the day, let alone at night when they travel home.
    Not my experience. Your experience may differ.

    when people travel home at night, they often travel to and from stations which have no staff and on trains with just a driver.

    It should be the case that all TfL run stations are staffed whenever the station is open (except Emerson Park). Even Southern largely manage this in the London area – incredibly Reedham is generally staffed. Just because their presence is not immediately apparent does not mean they are not there and they may well be aware of you even if you are not aware of them.

    To see an example of (at least some of the time) staff are around when needed see what happened on SouthEastern when a newly-qualified guide dog slipped between train and platforms. Note that it was all resolved and there was no guard and no reports of staff leaving the booking office to assist. The RMT will think differently but I would argue that a driver with a bank of CCTV monitors is more likely to spot an incident like this than a guard.

    I’d like to know the risk assessment for this, say on a crowded train with say 1000 people on it

    We’ve done this one to death multiple times. The risk assessments have been done many times – and it actually happens including fatal heart attacks.

    Obviously on a automatically driven train it is not an issue. It is sorted out at the next station. On manually driven trains on National Rail the signaller can be in instant contact with the driver and as soon as he is not getting a response he will be aware that something is wrong and can invoke the standard procedures. The signaller can talk directly to passengers on the train from the signalling centre.

    On London Underground there are also procedures for dealing with this and the following train can approach at extreme caution to facilitate a recovery.

  427. Malcolm,

    You almost talk about “driving down costs” as if it were something evil. Surely it is a laudable objective? If it results in undesirable consequences then that is another issue.

  428. Malcolm says:

    PoP: Of course driving down costs is not evil, I didn’t mean to suggest it was – as you say it is the consequences which might be (although if the consequences do happen to be evil, arguably the cause of such consequences cannot be let off the hook entirely).

    But I did mean to suggest that when it is happening, it should be done openly and visibly. If it happens behind a smokescreen of “redeploying staff so that they can serve the public better”, that is not ideal.

    And of course such openness is made trickier by the public’s short attention span: a single reason for a given change is easier to explain than “we are doing it partly for this, and partly for that”.

  429. Sad Fat Dad says:

    Anonymous @2118
    “Surely it means more profits for the TOCs”

    Absolutely not the case.

    Every TOC bids for a franchise on a forward cost and (usually) revenue basis. In the case of GTR and all the TfL concessions it is cost only. The winning bidder is the one who proposes the most ‘railway’ for the least subsidy (or most premium paid back to the specifying authority). The cost saved from fewer staff on the front line just finds its way back to that authority. And that authority will usually specify in detail the staffing levels expected – either in the tender, or in the franchise / concession contract.

    It is a separate discussion regarding whether the money saved is then used for more railway or not. But it doesn’t land on the bottom line of the TOC.

  430. Malcolm says:

    Sad Fat Dad: Could you please clarify what you mean by “bidding on a cost … basis”? For the non-revenue case, does this mean that all staff costs incurred are passed on to the specifying authority? (Or plus-or-minus some agreed percentage). What if the specified levels of staffing are achieved by clever rostering, or paying the staff at different rates from other bidders, or achieving lower sickness levels, or whatever?

    I suppose I am asking, if staff costs (and variations of them) do not land on the bottom line of the TOC, then what does?

  431. Ian J says:

    @Malcolm: I don’t want to put words in SFD’s mouth, but I assume he means that when deciding how much to bid for a franchise, bidders work out what they think their costs will be, then what they think the revenue will be, and then add on a desired profit margin. Revenue is much less under their control than costs, and in any case there are mechanisms now to reduce the revenue risk from GDP fluctuations, so costs are the most important bit to get right in a franchise bid.

    If they aim to reduce staff costs then in principle they could still bid the same amount and just aim to make a higher profit, but since all the other bidders will be doing the same sums then they risk losing the bid altogether.

    More likely they would factor the lower staff costs into their bid and hope it gives them an edge over the competing bidders – or maybe offer to plough the money back into new rolling stock/running more trains or whatever and so get a higher quality score.

    The tricky bit comes when it is uncertain whether costs can be reduced (ie if they know there will be a fight with the unions and they aren’t sure who will win). In this case they will be likely to ask for more subsidy/less premium – in effect charging extra to cover the risk. This is why it would be very much to the government’s advantage to have some kind of precedent set for Southern before bids for SWT are due.

  432. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Ian J,

    And that reminds me of an interesting comment by Christian Wolmar about franchising and franchise bids. Basically there are probably quite a few companies who are roughly of the same ability when it comes to running a franchise and they probably have much the same approach. So how does one franchise differ from another?

    Basically, a franchise bid, according to Wolmar, is a punt – a guess on what will happen in the future. The first part is to guess what will go down well with the DfT when assessing the bid. The second part (and the one Wolmar makes the point on) is that the bidder is basically making a guess on how the economy will do, how rail travel will increase (or possibly decrease), what are the risks (e.g. 7/7 led to a reduction of leisure travel for a while that hit revenue, will you actually have the drivers you expect to have, at what rate will drivers leave the job and need replacing), how reliable will the service be from Network Rail (and will the compensation for any delays be of greater benefit than revenue lost), will the workforce agree to cost-saving measures etc etc. The ability to actually run a franchise is secondary.

    Get your predictions right (or err on the side of caution) and win the bid and you are in the money. Get it wrong and you will be paying dearly. That is how franchises are and aren’t profitable and it is very little about providing a service, being competent etc. etc.

  433. Graham H says:

    @PoP – one might go further and say that many of the risk assumptions are constrained by what is and isn’t acceptable to DfT, which in itself leads to a convergence of bid values. In their gloomier moments, bidders are apt to say that at worst all they are bidding is the cost of the bid and the cost of money.

  434. Malcolm says:

    Very interesting replies about franchising, particularly the description of the Wolmar article.

    But I am still bemused by Sad Fat Dad’s explanation which I think I must have misunderstood. If the franchisee is paying the staff costs, then I cannot see how their managing to contain those costs, or drive them down, can fail to benefit their bottom line. It could only fail to benefit their bottom line if the contract were to stipulate that their income will be reduced by the same amount as any staff cost savings. If this were the case then what would be incentivising them to keep costs in check?

    This question relates to what happens while the franchise is operating. What happens before it is awarded is a different, though still interesting, question.

  435. ngh says:

    Re Malcolm,

    But DfT see those staffing numbers and costs, hence can see what the bidders margin (if any) will be. As others have said, the other bidders will be playing the same games to get the typical 3% margin.

    The TOCs have to be innovative outside the heavily regulated areas to help make more money for example enlarging station carparks! Are there any off peak extras you could run profitably (easier if DOO…)

    The bid teams very rarely actually have anything to do with running the franchise. The entertainment comes either when the new franchise comes in and discovers you can’t actually run the trains with the number of staff they thought due to operation quirks they didn’t notice (First TransPennine earlier this year) or basing you staffing numbers on data supplied by DfT when you know DfT is wrong but can’t win unless you use their lower number (e.g. GTR basing staffing numbers on the number of trains in service but DfT having underestimated the number of trains required to run the given service level into LBG during the works (trains sitting in the up Sussex loop for 10 minutes etc) resulting in the higest stock utilisation in the country including LU) hence some of the current Southern issues with not enough stock (resulting in cancellation or short forms) and bidding a lower than actually required number of staff!)

  436. ML says:

    In the short term, driving down costs faster than the bid assumption will benefit the TOC profits. But after the short period of the remainder of the franchise, the reduced cost base is the starting point for subsequent franchise terms, so will be taken as a given by all the bidders thereafter, and built into their bids, with a reduction in cost to the government/taxpayers.

    In 20 years travelling intermittently from Epsom to Waterloo on SWT suburban, I never saw the guard pass through the train. Revenue protection teams occasionally – never the guard.

    More recently, staff have been visible at High Barnet for far more of the time since the closure of the ticket office than before (despite a reduction in the overall number of staff allocated to the station). I suspect that this is as much due to a change in the management of staff (there were always more staff allocated to the station than there were in the ticket office – they were just never visible) as to the closure of the ticket office.

  437. John Bull's dog says:

    Malcolm writes: “A lower cost railway could in fact mean that we have more railway. Or it could mean more profits for the shareholders”.

    While, in the very short-run, the franchise holder could make some more money from reducing costs (assuming that reduction in costs did not form part of the franchise bid), at the next franchise let every bidder can use this reduction in costs as the basis of their next bid. These bidders are competing against each other and will raise the value of their bid and hence the benefits are fully captured by whoever is letting the franchise. (This is one good reason not to have very long franchises, since reasonably short franchises allow the franchisor to rapidly capture these benefits).

    There are many railway projects which currently fail to satisfy good BCR criteria, which could satisfy these criteria if we could reduce the costs.

  438. Graham H says:

    @John Bull’s dog “There are many railway projects which currently fail to satisfy good BCR criteria, which could satisfy these criteria if we could reduce the costs.” A BFO, I fear – if anything is cheaper then it becomes more affordable, as with beans.

    “While, in the very short-run, the franchise holder could make some more money from reducing costs (assuming that reduction in costs did not form part of the franchise bid), at the next franchise let every bidder can use this reduction in costs as the basis of their next bid.” Hardly so – it would depend on whether the cost reduction had long term consequences, wouldn’t it? Maintenance and training “holidays” are typical examples in the rail industry. Indeed, the short termism of such actions is precisely a good reason for making sure that the sinner is stuck with his sin, likes dogs and vomit.

  439. Walthamstow Writer says:

    I’m a tiny bit sceptical about some of the comments about franchising and running a franchise. I admit I’m not a great Wolmar fan but he comes with his own set of biases about franchising so he’s not an objective observer. Quite clearly some of the TOC managements are decent enough and can turn out a good train service consistently and not be at war with their staff for seven years. To suggest that you don’t need competence to run a franchise is, to be frank, bizarre. We have seen enough examples of bad franchise operation to be able to spot the good ones. For example, is anyone trying to suggest there isn’t safety competence in each TOC and that ORR are being conned about the safety management in TOCs?

    Depending on how DfT set out their requirments then it may be perfectly possible for a TOC to achieve those at a lower cost than competing bidders. If DfT are rigidly setting out how many staff are needed then I agree there’s little scope. If they are specifying defined, measurable outputs perhaps coupled with staffing minima (for safety reasons) then there is scope for doing things differently. Similarly there is surely scope to offer more than the DfT baseline and for that to offer opportunities to pull in more punters and more money than the extra service costs? If not then why have several “expansive” franchises recently been awarded?

    I’d never pretend franchising is a panacea for running a railway but let’s at least acknowledge that there are cost risks that sit with bidders just as a level of performance (and sometimes) revenue risk also sits with them. Nonetheless the people ultimately responsible for the railway we do or do not get is the DfT [1] as they hold the purse strings, set out what service is to be provided and contract manage the franchises.

    [1] or TfL / Scot Gov / Welsh Assembly / Liverpool City Region Combined Authority as appropriate. [2]
    [2] and even with devolution the UK government still has an influence.

  440. ngh says:

    Re WW,

    Except most of the TOC management doesn’t change from one to the next so one hand over has seen something as low as 4 staff change. The rest keep on doing things like they did the week before!

    GTR with TSGN was a big turnover with senior staff as they had to start the franchsie out for 9 months without any of the experienced Southern staff which meant a lot of outsiders in key positions and they also lost lots of key proven senior southern staff (who are now running other recently awarded franchises around the country). Some reshuffles recently (e.g. Rolling Stock) have seen key Southern people with good track record moving back to prominence.

    Perfectly possible to offer extra provided it works within the bid framework, some of the expansion has been mandated by DfT, some suggested/ hinted by DfT for quality points and some bidder thought up.

  441. Sad Fat Dad says:

    My mouth appears to be full of scrabble pieces that others have put there; let me rearrange them.

    When a franchise bid is made, it assumes various strategies and initiatives to reduce costs. (We’ll leave revenue increases out to simplify matters). What happens during a bid is very much related to what happens afterwards, as the bid is contractualised.

    Whoever wins the franchise has, in simple terms, agreed to meet the specification for the lowest cost. Rarely are staff numbers specified – although this does happen – but given a base service spec there are only so many ways you can skin a cat / resource it. The bidders will get nauseating levels of detail on existing resource deployment, current sick rates, retirement rates, etc etc and how the bidder uses this info to resource the plan is one of the few ways they can make a notable difference to their bid.

    The franchising authority then contracts the winning bidder on the basis of their bid (following some negotiation), and this contract will include a great amount of detail.

    Now, using DOO as an example, GTR bid the introduction of same, to meet the specification as laid down by DfT that required it. (All the other bidders would have done so also.) GTRs cost model would have reflected the introduction of DOO from date X. So the cost saving ‘benefit’ of implementing DOO has already been contracted to the DfT in terms of a reduction in the amount that DfT pay GTR from a certain point in time. And whilst I don’t know the detail of the franchise contract, it is possible that a starting date for DOO expansion would also have been contractualised to reflect the changed cost base.

    So the cost benefit of DOO doesn’t land on the TOC bottom line, as that part of the bottom line has already gone to the DfT.

    You could look at it the other way and say that if the TOC did not implement DOO when it said it would, then it would take a hit on costs (as the benefit is already contractually obliged to head to DfT) and therefore the bottom line would get worse, or in GTRs case, *even* worse. But there is a very strong incentive for the TOC to stick to it’s plan, ie protect what profit it has already assumed, and avoid missing a contractual milestone in the franchise.

    So the only way that any major cost saving initiative such as DOO benefits the TOCs bottom line is the avoidance of losses if it doesn’t happen when the TOC committed to do so.

  442. Greg Tingey says:

    Quite clearly some of the TOC managements are decent enough and can turn out a good train service consistently and not be at war with their staff for seven years. To suggest that you don’t need competence to run a franchise is, to be frank, bizarre.
    We have seen enough examples of bad franchise operation to be able to spot the good ones.

    Yes, now comes the difficult bit, doesn’t it?
    How does one [ Or more practically how does the DfT ] ensure that we get “good ones” rather than “bad ones” – especially when we get, err … outpourings like that referred to by an anonymous expressed by one Peter Wilkinson.
    This is what this whole discussion is about, especially what certainly appears to be a real nadir of industrial relations.

    Dare we list the “good ones” ( TOC’s that is)?
    Or not?
    What is it, from the paying passenger’s pov that makes a “good TOC” & what makes a “bad TOC” ?? [ Without naming names, or even doing so, maybe, perhaps … ]

  443. IslandDweller says:

    Slightly off topic, but just in response to an earlier comment.
    At the commencement of the Caledonian Sleeper franchise, the provision of guards was sub contracted to Scotrail (who had of course previously ran this service within their franchise).
    That arrangement has ended. I’m not sure if the change of guard provision was provoked by the Scotrail dispute, or was always planned.

  444. ngh says:

    Re Island dweller,

    Always planned but not yet fully implemented hence the problems…

  445. Greg Tingey says:

    Replying to myself & WW
    How does one define a “good TOC”?
    Could we propose a check-list of some sort – though there might be alternative criteria if you are, say, a paying passenger or the DfT.

    Any proposals, anyone?

  446. 100andthirty says:

    Sunday 7th August, Radio 4, 0900, Broadcasting House programme had a section on the strike. Mick Whelan from ASLEF and Angie Doll from GTR took part (in separate interviews). As LR commentariat might imagine there was not a lot of light shed on the issue. this was not helped by the presenter insisting on asking “what percentage of responsibility does your side bear in this dispute”. This led to much wasted time from the interviewees trying to answer the unanswerable! The general tone was reinforced 5 minutes after the interview when the news summary managed to get wrong the names of both the interviewees. Listen again on iPlayer and weep!

  447. Ex Croydon says:

    130, agreed: They travelled on a Victoria to Caterham service to ‘showcase’ the piece. I know that is a southern train, but…

  448. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Greg – I expect there is little value in debating “good TOCs” here. Everyone has a different experience and opinion based on how often they travel with particular railway companies. My use of main line rail is pretty limited these days so my “sample size” will be very small and unlikely to be representative. I also don’t think we could get any coherent opinion as to *why* a TOC was “good” or not. There are so many factors, some unique to individual companies, that would make comparison difficult at best and probably near impossible. Let’s just leave the issue to one side before I feel cold steel on my neck. 😉

  449. Briantist (in Gigabit internet heaven) says:

    @Greg Tingey

    How does one define a “good TOC”?

    Objectively there is –

    Or, if you want to DIY,

    Also, as I met with them the other day –

  450. ngh says:

    Re Briantist,

    Rhetorical question:
    How does that data take account of the underlying infrastructure the TOCs use so you can benchmark the TOCs performance rather than the underlying infrastructure mostly from the Victorian era that is largely responsible for underlying performance or the limitations the franchsie contracts put on operators or just practical issues*?

    (For example SWT’s analysis of about 5 years ago showing that it would always be easier for an SW franchise to perform better than a neighbouring “southern” according to industry stats one as their network had far less reactionary delay (more grade separation, no windmill bridge jn etc.). The comparative reactionary delay situation has got worse since then with longer dwell times).

    It doesn’t so you aren’t just comparing TOC’s but legacy infrastructure from LSWR / LBSCR / LCDR / SER / LTSR / GER / NER / Midland / GCR / GWR.

    * e.g. How could FGW / GWR have increased stopping train service capacity when no DMUs readily available and anything they brought in couldn’t go near the fasts as the ATP in cab signalling equipment is no longer manufactured.

  451. MikeP says:

    @ngh – “underlying infrastructure mostly from the Victorian era”

    We keep hearing this one from the TOCs and NR. Whilst I’d admit that the core civils are from that era, and notably suffering badly nationwide at present, isn’t the rest of it really Trigger’s Broom ??

  452. 100andthirty says:

    MikeP…..On the basis that a flat junction can be replaced as nauseam, like Trigger’s Broom, it’s flying junctions that elevate (sorry) the railway to the next level. Thus to Trigger’s Broom the flying junction is a, self powered vacuum sweeper. (I suspect I’ve mangled the analogy quite enough, but I hope you get the point!)

  453. ngh says:

    Re Mike P,

    Indeed but it is underlying design of the broom that is the issue – is the broom 6″ or 24″ wide…

  454. ngh says:

    This LR article has now been referenced by the BBC in an article!

  455. 100andthirty says:

    There’s a photo at the end of the BBC report. I don’t recognise it but its got a subsidence problem!

  456. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Ngh – no great shock there. I think Tom Edwards has been doing quite a bit of digging into sources other than Southern and the RMT. We had James Abbott of Modern Railways and Nigel Harris of Rail Magazine spring up on the BBC London News this evening which I think is a first [1]. I think the wider media are finally beginning to twig that the dispute is not a simple union vs employer dispute. I suspect Mr Edwards read the article above long ago but clearly he has to follow his own leads and sources and be subject to BBC editorial decisions.

    [1] of course many years ago you used to get the Roger Ford and Richard Hope (Railway Gazette) double act on the news and in documentaries about the railways.

  457. Anon E. Mouse says:

    Hello all. First time Commenter here.

    I’ve recently found this wonderful website and have enjoyed reading a number of the articles on here. I will freely admit to being fascinated by transport and London’s transport will always have a special place in my heart as I spent the first 10-and-a-bit years of my life living in Newham.

    Reading this article has really made me think about the role of guards on the modern railway and I have come to the conclusion that while it’s good to have passenger-facing staff on trains, it’s best if they don’t have to control the doors so that they can spend more of their time taking care of passengers.

    Speaking of guards, I was on a SWT service earlier which had as many guards as coaches! (4 coaches, 4 guards.) The explanation for this bizarre situation appeared to be that one old hand was showing two new recruits the ropes while someone else was on hand to check tickets. In fact, I overheard the instructor say to his trainees that they were going to have ANOTHER guard (Farnham based) travel with them between Guildford and Woking for route knowledge meaning they would have MORE guards than coaches! Given that Southern have had a lack of guards recently while SWT appear to have a surplus of them, you’d like to think that they could share. Oh wait, we don’t have a joined up railway…

  458. ngh says:

    The latest talks between the GTR (Southern) and RMT have collapsed.
    Given the press release below presumably all change starting next week as originally planned if everything else in place (e.g platform lighting improvements in places)?
    A very different tone in the GTR press release which shows GTR probably testing specifics responses on various issues during the talks from RMT including safety.
    As the change date is less than 7 days away and 7 days notice is required to call a strike, the RMTs ability to call strikes on cl 377 operated southern Services outside the current DOO area is probably over* (e.g. remaining guard operated largely just 171 (Uckfield/Marshes), 313 (Sussex coast locals), 442 Peak Eastbournes and some 455 operations in deeper Surrey) or <15% of Southern total services.

    *ASLEF working to rule is another matter.

    Date: 15 Aug 2016

    GTR, the parent company of Southern trains, today vowed to move forward with modernisation plans after the latest talks at Acas with the RMT ended without agreement.

    Commenting, Angie Doll, GTR Passenger Services Director, said:

    ‘’We have been talking to the union for nine months now and, despite several visits to Acas, the union won’t agree a deal. Passengers will be rightly exasperated that the RMT won’t agree to what most fair-minded people would believe is an incredibly good offer. We are guaranteeing jobs, pay and a second person on as many trains as we do today and also offered to work with the RMT to agree modern working practices to reduce cancellations and passenger disruption.

    “The RMT’s position does not help our passengers at all. We have guaranteed to have a second person on as many trains as today, but the union is rigidly refusing our offer to agree a list of exceptional circumstances when we would be able to run our trains without a second staff member on board, such as during disruption to still get people home. This would create the crucial flexibility we need to ensure fewer cancelled trains for our passengers.

    “The RMT has repeatedly tried to play the safety card as the issue but it did not raise this issue at all during these latest talks, confirming this dispute is purely about union power and control. The fact is that, day in, day out for decades, up and down Britain’s railways and the Tube network, we’ve had the driver operating the doors, safely. This is backed up by independent research and expert opinion, including that of the Rail Safety and Standards Board.

    “We will now move forward with our modernisation plans which will deliver better customer service for our passengers. Our eight-point proposal is still on the table and we urge the RMT to give this serious consideration. Over the coming weeks, we will be working closely with our staff as we start to implement these vital changes. After so much unnecessary industrial action, we must all get back to the job of giving our passengers the service they expect and deserve.”

  459. 100andthirty says:

    Ngh…. I am reminded that when all’s said and done, management has a right to manage.

    I am also reminded of similar disputes on LU in the ’70’s. In the end it was all about the money.

    For me, RMT’s constant playing of the safety card is either a “busted flush” or “crying wolf”.

  460. Greg Tingey says:

    ngh, CXX & others
    But, assuming “it’s all over now” when the new working arrangements come into force … it won’t be, because there will almost certainly be a residue of bitterness & bad feelings to be overcome, on both sides of the “fence”.
    We shall have to wait & see how it develops, won’t we?

  461. ngh says:

    Re Greg,

    Indeed bitterness all round, I do sometimes suspect the most recent RMT action was to inflict maximum grief (from passengers and politicians) on GTR rather than produce an direct change on guards etc.

    On the original timings we have less that a week to find out…

  462. Jim Elson says:

    There is still ASLEF,smarting but also wary, because of its courtroom hammering.
    Some Drivers hate giving more productivity for nothing. If Network Rail have not let Southern down & all stations are properly DOO lit, then the changes can come in in a week and RMT is a busted flush with an 85% DOO railway. Apart from Uckfield & the South coast,which can be run by the many guards did not go on strike last week & a few guard managers. But ASLEF can inflict great reputation damage on Southern,specially in London,with almost a full stop on services. There are still the courts. It depends on whose lawyers are allied most to the deciding Judge’s thinking. Southern’s,the most expensive lawyers possible,were right last time.
    RMT knew it was all lost some time ago, but wanted to demonstrate to other TOCs that going DOO will have their reputation smashed so don’t do there. It looks as if Scotrail backed off as a result of the reputational damage Southern got.

  463. Sad Fat Dad says:

    @Jim Elson: surely it is up to the train operator (GTR in this case) to confirm that the stations are properly lit to permit the relevant method of train despatch, and if not, either deliver the improvement themselves or contract another party (which might be their landlord) to do the work for them?

  464. ngh says:

    Re Jim Elson,

    …and parts of the MK services.

    I suspect time will tell on Scotrail as the main benefits accrue from DOO extension on conversion from DMU to EMU operation so mainly become worth while in the next Scotrail franchise when the majority of services are EMU operated after years of rolling electrification works. The who operates the doors on Scotrail isn’t finalised yet the other issues are agreed and I suspect Scotrail will be holding firm there (especially as the new Hitachi EMUs don’t have guard panels…). With Southern on the other hand the potential benefits can be realised fairly quickly and indeed need to be on routes swapping to Thameslink before the swap from 377s to 700s happens.

    As soon as GWR realised that IEP introduction would be very delayed they went quiet on DOO as there was very little benefit during the remainder of the current franchise so I’d expect that to kick off again at some point after the start of the next.

    Kent resignalling and platform extensions / station works (Rochester etc.) might open a few more DOO opportunities especially given SE subsidy requirements (need to so something to offset HS1’s extortionate costs).

    So the remaining big challenges are LM and SW services where there is no DOO at all. The bidders might not have much choice with DfT so collateral brand damage through strikes might be inevitable if they win.

  465. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    A bit late perhaps, but the station with the subsidence in the BBC article looks suspiciously like East Dulwich, down platform… Sad I know…

  466. Greg Tingey says:

    Not actually subsidence, but a variable-level platform, built at different times, I think.
    Wandsworth town certainly used to be like that, too …..
    And, checking Bing Maps, I think you are probably corrrect

  467. ngh says:

    A new RMT strike has been called for 48 hours on Wednesday 7th and Thursday 8th September.

    The gradual increased DOO role out started on Sunday with additional OBS who were formerly Revenue Protection Inspectors (RPIs) starting to run instead of guards on number of services without apparent issue so far and some 12 car Brightons running in peak flow direction to get drivers accustomed. The date for completing the conversion from ~40% to ~86% DOO is December so it will be interesting to see what happens in 2 weeks.

  468. Greg Tingey says:

    Are there impartial observations of how well the new schedules & staff/crew workings are operating?
    I suspect that RMT have “lost” – even before this announcement, if the new workings are bedding in….

  469. ngh says:

    Re Greg,

    Very difficult to say but the cancellation stats should give an idea after a week or so as would any resumption of cut back services.
    I suspect SN will change diagrams and rotas every 2 weeks with small step changes, some hints that Sunday 4th Sept is next set of changes when more services might be reintroduced.
    They effectively have probably upto another 40 extra 2nd members of staff at any time which should help with the lack of 2nd members of staff on trains, though not sure how effective the ex Metro RPIs will be as the problems have’t really been in their areas.

    Then of course we have the driver and stock shortages…

  470. ngh says:


    PS the stats need to be take with a spade of salt to remove any non-TOC issues such as track defects or hot weather points problems (e.g. don’t look at todays!)

  471. Greg Tingey says:

    And, of course, over next weekend & extended, LBG will be “OOU” as regards ex-SECR line services, anyway, which will also affect the ex-LBSC routes too.
    So, we won’t be able to really judge anything at all until the end of the first full week after the Holiday … i.e. Saturday 3rd Sept, or possibly even the 10th.

  472. ngh says:

    It looks like the RMT and Scotrail have reached agreement in Scotland by effectively moving to the old circa 2002-2016 Southern arrangement. (Drivers open, Guards close doors).

    Which is of course what Transport Scotland and Abellio Scotrail would have wanted as a minimum as there aren’t enough EMU services (given the electrification programme) till the next franchise in the early 2020s to make a big bust up worth while.

    What DfT think about TS is possibly unprintable…

  473. The following was originally posted by Del_tic elsewhere but moved here as it is more appropriate:

    More strikes have been announced:

    “Five sets of strike dates have been announced by the RMT.
    00.01 BST Tuesday 11 October to 23.59 BST Thursday 13 October
    00.01 BST Tuesday 18 October to 23.59 BST Thursday 20 October
    00.01 BST Thursday 3 November to 23.59 BST Saturday 5 November
    00.01 BST Tuesday 22 November to 23.59 BST Wednesday 23 November
    00.01 BST Tuesday 6 December to 23.59 BST Thursday 8 December. “

  474. Greg Tingey says:

    Whichever side “wins” after these strikes, assuming they actually happen, of course, the working relations inside “Southern” are going to be very, very bad for a long time thereafter.
    It is very sad to see this sort of thing, because any “victory” is probably going to be Pyrrhic in the extreme.
    Question: Don’t DfT care? Given that they are the nearest thing we have to a “Controlling mind” ( *cough* ) on the railways at present.

  475. Londoner in Scotland says:

    The announcement of further strikes is at

    Assuming all go ahead, this brings the number of strike days to 23. Does anyone know to what extent strikes are still supported by the staff? How many can afford to lose over three weeks pay?

  476. Pedantic of Purley says:

    In order to provide balance, the Southern reaction to the announcement of strikes can be found at:

    I thought this article would remain topical for a long time but I didn’t think it would still be topical at the end of 2016 – which looks increasingly likely.

  477. Greg Tingey says:

    And “Southern” also have a point.

    Could not the “Scottish” solution be adopted as a temporary measure, with the emphasis on temporary, so as to get everyone round the table again?
    Or is that too optimistic & simplistic?

  478. Greg,

    It depends what you mean. If you mean introduce the Scottish solution (two people present at all times regardless) and try to negotiate for better terms later then that is just a fudge. Fudges were one of the things British Rail were doing all the time. It didn’t solve the problem. It is just delayed it to another day without solving anything.

    If you mean insist on two people until a certain date then I can’t see the RMT agreeing to that in a million years as it would show its claim that this was all done for safety reasons as quite spurious. However, if it depended on various infrastructure safety improvements it could be just possible that the RMT would entertain that but, I suspect, highly unlikely.

    I also suspect Southern won’t entertain what you suggest and if I were Southern I would think the same. What Southern really wants to do and needs to do is run a more reliable service. When trains get disrupted or staff go sick you can get situation where you have a train and driver sitting in a platform (e.g. at Haywards Heath), nicely blocking other services and yet the railway is paralysed for a lack of a guard. It is often not just a case of cancelling a train.

  479. As an aside, I saw a 12-car class 700 depart Three Bridges station the other day. The was a dedicated member of staff for platform dispatch. The platform was straight. The view along it quite clear. She properly positioned herself ,checked it was safe to close the doors (hopefully she checked the signal aspect as well), lifted her bat, the driver closed the doors and then she pressed the “right away” button when satisfied that it was safe for the train to depart. All this would be recorded on CCTV as would exactly when the “right away” button was pressed.

    I can’t think of a safer way of dispatching a train. As a bonus, in the event that something did happen it could all be analysed and someone be held accountable if necessary. All done without a guard.

    (Yes I know there are other issues if there aren’t two members of staff on the train and not all stations have assisted dispatch)

  480. ngh says:

    Re Greg,

    As noted in my last comment (Tuesday) the Scottish solution is the old southern operating practice of the last decade+ that GTR and DfT want to move away from, so if GTR agree to it they have capitulated. What they are doing is a gradual change over from old to new practice`.
    The question is how far will the change over process (August – December planned) be before the new strikes. One suspects not many cancellation apart from on Coastway, Uckfileld, Marshlink and WLL by the last one. By the last strikes Southern will also have started to transfer the 36x 377/1 (with small CCTV screens) to SE and replaced them with 377/5 and 377/2 & 377/5 ex Thameslink the later with large CCTV screens…

    Re PoP,

    I suspect this article and comments will still be referred to in 5 years time as it is the start of long campaign!

  481. ngh says:

    PS what were the RMT smoking when the proposed another 14 days of strike action? Even with limited strike pay there are few guards who could afford another 14 days after the previous ones.

  482. 100andthirty says:

    And there will still be the issue of 7-day working to sort out, so as not to rely on volunteers on Sundays

  483. Anonymous says:

    Pedantic of Purley. Couldn’t agree more. A second person on the platform with a better view of the train than the driver who decided when he should shut the doors and go. Just what I as a driver want. We sometimes call them “guards”. And exactly what I don’t have now at most stations, and what I will have at even less stations after full DOO is implemented. Just me and a battered mirror, monitors both in cabs and on platforms with shadows or sunlight obscuring my view, or just plain old fashioned passengers in the way when I look back who can’t hear my pleas to stand clear. But still my fault if I don’t see something dangerous occurring even though it’s now more difficult for me to make judgements about which I can be confident.

    130, please be clear that it is only former FCC drivers who have the right to lose Sundays; Southern drivers can only lose them if they can personally find another driver to cover them. As an aside, it benefits the TOCs to keep Sundays understaffed because it saves them money in terms of recruitment, training, pension contributions etc. Cheaper for them to spin out their existing driver resources to cover the work. It is ASLEF who wants more Sunday working with suitably increased staffing levels.

  484. 100andthirty says:

    Anonymous 23/09 14:13. Thanks for the clarification re Sundays.

  485. Graham Feakins says:

    @Anonymous 23/09 14:13 – Having read and absorbed your first paragraph, may I ask whether you, your colleagues or your representatives have ever personally pointed out to the TOC the specific shortcomings you list? Silly question I know but I’d be interested to learn of your route(s) of complaint.

    In particular, I quote “Just me and a battered mirror, monitors both in cabs and on platforms with shadows or sunlight obscuring my view, or just plain old fashioned passengers in the way when I look back who can’t hear my pleas to stand clear.”

    To start with, who is aware of the battered mirrors? Has anyone actually complained to the right people and requested replacements? Don’t worry, I have seen those mirrors around, still surviving from NSE days.

    As for your pleas to stand clear, is that just you shouting out of the cab window or using a microphone linked to the doorways?

    In case you wish to contact me away from the public pages of LR in order to discuss further (which I’d personally welcome), I take the liberty of placing here an ancient LR link that may or may not work, dating from the days when I organised a Southern Untangling the Brambles tour around SR for LR members who tended to know e.g. more about Goblin than the SR territory.

    [email protected]

    P.S. Of course, my doing this reminds me that maybe it is time for me to organise another excursion for willing LR members.

  486. Greg Tingey says:

    I had a scheme to follow-on from “East of Enfield N of Stratford, but since part II STILL hasn’t been published, I left it.
    Would you care to contact me & we’ll see what we can do?

    [ fledermaus AT dsl DOT pipex DOT com ]

  487. ngh says:

    Dyan Crowther has left GTR to become the new CEO of HS1. Mike Nick Brown ex LU MD is her replacement as the new GTR COO.

  488. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    @Graham Feakins: Yes, over a year now I think since you last did the tour… Please! Encore!

  489. Greg Tingey says:

    Back on topic (!)
    Oh dear not quite what Southern were expecting …
    But it appears that they are also trying this as an expedient.
    More “interesting times on this subject upcoming, obviously

  490. ngh says:

    Re Greg,

    Full details on the final take it or leave offer on southern website:

    The other more interesting move in Southern land today is that the first new batch of Southern (as opposed to GatEx Brighton extension or Southern routes where DOO was already agreed but not always used) going DOO:
    Arun Valley* services become DOO between Three Bridges and London Terminals
    Horsham – Dorking trains become DOO
    More Brighton to Victoria services become DOO

    They might still have guards in the short term if one is available.

    *Horsham to London Bridge and Victoria, Victoria to Bognor Regis, Southampton and Portsmouth.

    This would take a bit of sting out of the next strike.

  491. ngh says:

    Unsurprisingly today the RMT have rejected GTR’s kind offer of talks as they weren’t unconditional and didn’t have the RMT precondition of the new Scotrail deal (similar to old Southern deal that GTR are trying to move away from!) as a pre condition.

    GTR are also looking at potential legal action to prevent the strikes due to the balloting procedure.

  492. Pedantic of Purley says:

    I experienced something very strange indeed yesterday evening when travelling up to London from Purley.

    My fast train was cancelled (no, that’s not the strange bit – that’s quite normal) so I caught the all stations DOO metro train from Caterham and Tattenham Corner combining at Purley. As we approached East Croydon an announcement said. “Good Evening. Onboard Supervisor speaking. We will shortly be arriving at East Croydon …”. To make the event even more surprising, she subsequently came round and checked all the tickets.

  493. ngh says:

    Re PoP,

    This was actually the first service where OBS were sporadically deployed on in mid August as those OBS are all ex South London area Revenue Protection Inspectors on their home turf so no surprise on my part. They need multiple staff for the split and join so there is lots of sense in why this was chosen as it then releases Selhurst based guards to run other services e.g. Uckfields, the last section of the Guildford peak onlys* and WLL north of Shepherds Bush (which won’t be going OBS) as well as East Grinstead and others which will be going OBS in time.

    *Unless GTR can get SWT to sort the lighting out at their stations…

    The stats for additional DOO services from last Monday:
    64 Arun Valley (DOO London – 3 Bridges)
    8 Extra London Brighton (DOO all the way)
    30 Horsham via Dorking (DOO all the way)

    None of the 3 service groups has 100% of daily services as DOO on the route (yet…).

    So 1.6% (of total Southern services) extra completely DOO services and 2.7% partially DOO extra so around 5% of guarded services pro rata* (as at start of 2016) went DOO on Monday.

    *taking the Arun Valley services at 50% Guard / 50% DOO.

    The most noticeable effect will be during the strikes next week where Horsham – Dorking has services running for the first time during strikes and more London – 3 Bridges services including via Redhill giving the Redhill line a far better strike service level due to more DOO.

    Lets see how the GTR -RMT talks last…

  494. ngh says:

    Re the last line of my last comment “Lets see how the GTR -RMT talks last…”

    Well that didn’t take long!

    But then again the RMT’s list of preconditions at unconditional talks wasn’t going to get far:

    During the transition period Southern (GTR) will work jointly with RMT and representatives of train drivers to create a new set of operational processes and procedures that will be acceptable to all parties with the remit:
    • That those services that currently require a conductor will retain a second safety critical and competent OBS on each service that runs.
    • That the two train crew will jointly operate the service in a safe, efficient and reliable mode.
    • The role and competencies will encompass the customer service objectives of Southern (GTR).
    • That high levels of accessibility for all passengers including disabled, elderly, and all those that may need assistance or guidance, accessibility is a priority

    The RMT seem to fail to understand that point 3 is compatible with aspects of points 1&2 (and indeed the sentence before the bullet points!) from GTR point of view, Jointly , retain and Each being the key problem words.
    [rhetorical] Is the RMT unable to mention ASLEF unless under duress??? [/rhetorical]

    Or did they want the talk to fail…

  495. ngh says:

    The RMT has now advised it members after receiving legal advice to accept the new OBS contracts, but has cost it members £2,000 each by not doing this 74hours earlier.

    The strikes are still on however…
    (but the rumour is that staff support for strikes is much reduced).

  496. Twopenny Tube says:

    @ngh 19:59 I thought this site was renowned for informed comment and information, and at times well-founded speculation, but not for passing on unsupported rumours.

  497. ngh says:

    Re Twopenny Tube,

    The “rumour” happens to be founded / supported by information from 2 previously reliable sources…
    I’m waiting till after the first strike to see how reliable the sources are this time round.

  498. Anonymous says:

    There can be no doubt that
    a) a train driver can open the doors of a train and close them
    b) that a person on a platform can safetly dispatch a train
    Surely this is only 2/3rds of the story?
    Can someone tell me about Watford re “the last stand”? This is my understanding of the recent train crash in September (caused by a landslide first):
    – two trains collide at the entrance at a tunnel
    – both drivers injured
    – one whole train stuck in a tunnel
    – some 600 passengers stuck, including one heavily pregnant woman
    – both trains had guards
    Isn’t it a reasonable observation that this crash could have been a lot worse? Lets say both drivers had been killed and this had involved both DOO trains. And then the trainstuck in the tunnel catches fire with the potential for multiple casualties . . . without a train guard on each train, thats the what could have happened.
    My understanding is that train guards on both trains played a critical role in ensuring the safeguarding of the passengers on both trains.

  499. Anonymous says:

    Hey Anonymous, let’s not let inconvenient facts get in the way of the massive pro DOO movement. (Funnily enough, it’s rarely a driver who is pro). Yours, another Anonymous.

  500. Anon E. Mouse says:

    Anonymous @ 12:12
    Situations like that are a good argument for having a second member of staff on most if not all trains, however, it does not say anything about the main argument of whether said second member of staff should be in control of the doors.

  501. ngh says:

    Re Anonymous 1212,

    Some extra facts about Watford from the initial RAIB investigation so far:

    A southbound train was derailed due to a landslide being pushed slightly into the path of any trains on the adjacent northbound line.

    The driver of the southbound train that derailed due to the landslide just outside the tunnel mouth used the big red GSMR all stop button and was in communication with the signaller for over a minute. All signals in the area had been set to red and the emergency GSMR message sent to all other trains so the Driver did all the safeguarding not the Guard. The Guards looked after “passenger welfare” in the RMT words not safeguarding.
    Because of the safeguarding carried out by the driver of the first train, the driver of the second (northbound) train (having heard the emergency all stop broadcast) in the other direction slowed from circa 80mph to 32mph at the point of impact substantially reducing the severity of the impact (glancing blow) and thus casualties (only 2 minor passenger injuries).
    The internal cab to saloon doors in both leading units jammed because of the impact “trapping” the 2 uninjured drivers in their cabs where they were able to coordinate but not physically help in the rescue.

    The RSSB reckon you have to go back over 50 years before there was an incident where the guard’s safeguarding actions prevented or reduced a secondary collision as in this case, which is presumably due to the time taken to lay track circuit clips or detonators and the intensive use of the network which has meant the next train in either direction is never that far away so the guard wouldn’t have the time to.

    Photo (not mine ) of the more damaged Southbound unit:

    While the RAIB “investigation will identify the sequence of events that led to the accident.

    It will also include consideration of:

    the actions of staff and performance of safety systems between the derailment and subsequent collision

    While the RMT might think that would be good for their cause one suspects the learning will actually be that GSMR works and the cab – saloon door designs need to be revised so they don’t jam.

  502. Annoyed-ymous says:

    Oh ngh, why must you insist on bringing facts into conversations? Isn’t it better to make wild assertions based on personal (mis)understandings of what happened and then argue your own case based on “let’s say x or y terrible thing happened” instead…

  503. Graham H says:

    @annoyed-ymous 🙂 – what and miss all the “fun” of Anonymous1212 drama queen’s ravings – to which we can all add equally “amusing” variants such as the trains’ front cab being liquidated by aliens or both the drivers suddenly deciding to do Elvis impersonations leaving the guards to tidy up afterwards – and release the doors, of course. [ I think we should all be grateful to ngh for taking the time to read the RSSB report…]

  504. Anonymous says:

    Other facts include that the RSSB Is made up of TOC execs, which creates serious doubts as to its independence on this matter. Or that RAIB reports go out of their way to say that a second person dispatching wouldn’t make a difference, because then the DfT’s union crushing strategy falls apart. Or that the GSMR packed up when a SE train hit a cow and the driver was back to dets and flags. Maybe some of us are forming views based on our genuine front line experience rather than sitting in ivory towers reading reports or making decisions that either bear little resemblance to what we see on a daily basis, or serve to make our job even more difficult. Perhaps some of you might like to consider how safe you would feel when you a hear a fight going on behind you on a Friday night, have to sort a fault on a packed train of angry commuters trying to get home with no one else to talk to them while they harangue and abuse you, or have to try to decide what is the safe moment to shut the doors using a tiny monitor which does not adequately show a gap all along a ten car train due to a crowded platform. Easy to decide what’s right for others when you don’t have to be at the sharp end.

  505. Anonymous says:

    Anonemous, there are plenty of arguments I could give you about a second person being present for dispatch. However it appears no one is interested in even listening to them, on this forum or other forums, in the trade, specialist rail or national press, the DFT, the Commons, or the TOCs. Another fact which might be discovered if only somebody would listen, is that drivers are not opposed to DOO in principle. They all prefer a second person on the train to deal with the passengers, but would like them to dispatch the train at times and locations when it is less safe for the driver to do so – at peak times or at perennially busy platforms. At other times it is felt to be as safe. Reports and stats don’t record the numerous times that drivers see things happening that they were uneasy about. Drivers in particular are starting to feel very uncomfortable about the position they could find themselves in and sneering at their fears is not helpful.

  506. Graham H says:

    @Anonymous of 1809 (same as 1212 presumably). None of the scenarios you put forward are handled any better by giving guards control of the doors – and this is the root of the dispute – even dispatch on a crowded platform: a guard trying to peer from a doorway over the heads of the punters down 200m of train on a crowded platform is no better placed than a driver looking at a monitor. (In fact, you could make the argument that dispatch would be better done by a third party viewing from aerial cameras). Nor do fault finding drivers travel round paired with the guard if available to deter angry punters – they simply don’t – again, it doesn’t require the guard to control the doors to help the driver. As for the argument that when it kicks off in car 1 (the driver cannot hear what’s going on in cars 2- x) he is well placed to deal with it, well, no, he can’t leave the cab, he can call the police to the next station which is what any guard would do anyway faced with serious trouble makers. (And the punters in cars 2-x can either ask the driver to do this themselves or in the last resort ring 999 themselves – something I have myself had occasion to do with entirely satisfactory results – indeed I was actually in car 1 a few feet away from the driver but he took no action).

    RMT have done guards a serious disservice by fastening on to the door control point. If they had argued instead for the usefulness of a second person on the train who was not in the cab, they could have made some sound points. As it is, they have had to invent increasingly implausible points to link the door control issue to all manner of safety crises.

    BTW it doesn’t help anyone to invent conspiracy theories suggesting the RSSB is a a corrupt organisation whose reports have been fixed by management. That just sounds like sour grapes (and is not supported by a shred of evidence – sorry, it’s that preference for fact again).

  507. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Anonymous 1756 – if you are going to be make borderline libelous statements about the RSSB then at least bother to look at their website to see who does sit on their board. It is not made up largely of TOC executives. There is one – a certain C Horton of GTR but he is the only one. The relevant bodies like ROSCOs, freight, asset maintainers and Network Rail are also represented plus there are independent non exec members. That sort of representation is what you would expect. The alternative is to employ a load of people from outside of the rail industry and I can’t see how that would help anyone. You need expertise in a body like the RSSB.

    I don’t think it helps your case to make sweeping statements about those who read and contribute to this blog (not forum) and the comments. I can’t drive a train legally as I am colour blind but I had enough experience as an “office dweller” to understand platform train interface and dispatch issues. If you’re going to imply that I’m somehow clueless, ill informed and “incapable of understanding” just because I haven’t sat in the driving seat then why should I listen to you? I have posted here before that I am very concerned about PTI and dispatch issues on National Rail and think there is a lot of scope for improvement. I have not rejected any views from drivers who have shared their experiences here. I am also sceptical about the motivations of *all* of the parties involved in this dispute. Unfortunately all of that bickering and propaganda is clouding discussion of the fundamental issues. Are you now going to accuse me of being in Mr Horton’s or Mr Grayling’s pocket? Actually don’t bother answering that.

  508. ngh says:

    Re Graham H and Annoyed-ymous,

    Interestingly the RAIB report also states that there were only circa 150 passengers in total rather than the 600 Anon @ 1212 quoted, but why let simple facts get in the way of a good story / argument…

  509. Malcolm says:

    Can I request that anyone considering commenting on the “guard controlling doors” issue takes a few moments reflection before pressing “Send”. The arguments have been well rehearsed here, and there is a risk of people talking past each other. We do have a number of drivers commenting here, and their contributions are particularly valued. It would be good if the rest of us could at least acknowledge that drivers’ anxiety is genuine, even if we may differ on what measures should be taken to address it.

    Oh, and from the information available to me, the anonymous contributions at 1212 and 1809 are probably not from the same person.

  510. Graham H says:

    @Malcolm -I fear you have missed the point. It’s not that drivers’views are discounted here -on the contrary – it’s that they are discounted (completely) when they rest on invented “facts”. The same treatment would be meted out to anyone,driver,manager,or politician (especially them) who did the same.

    BTW, your point about the multitude of anonymouses merely underlines the need for people to use different pseudonyms if they want their own voice to be heard (even if only from behind the arras).

  511. AlisonW says:

    I don’t use the lines currently subject to strike action, but haven’t the RMT rather shot themselves in their feet by _not_ arguing that a “safety critical” door-operating guard should be re-introduced on all tube lines and other DOO lines? So far I’ve yet to see any definition of what makes *these* lines a specific problem requiring a guard, let alone why only these lines are “safety critical”.

    Or is it because I’m only a train passenger …

  512. Malcolm says:

    Graham H: Yes, invented/exaggerated facts and speculation are rightly argued against here, I have no problem with the strong refutations which have been made.

    But as far as I know almost all commenters here are not relying on these exaggerations. There are proper concerns being raised here, about train dispatching, and about customer care after incidents. Those concerns would still exist even if there had been no exaggeration or speculation. It’s those proper concerns which I would hope to see recognized, even by those who do not share them.

  513. Malcolm says:

    AlisonW: Good point. But of course, lines and stations are all different, so it is quite possible in theory for some of them to need a guard and some not. But yes, exactly why the borderline should be drawn exactly where it now lies is difficult to justify.

    It could be argued that London Transport’s introduction of DOO on the “tea run” (mentioned in the article) was the thin end of a slippery slope…

  514. Graham H says:

    @Malcolm – I don’t think anyone would dispute the points about customer care handling; I do think the arguments about doors are different and the RMT does its members a disservice by mixing them (or Southern the travelling public by not recognising the difference either) .

    I would be astonished if the S Acton shuttle was cited as any sort of precedent; it many decades before the next DOO services appeared on the tube.

  515. quinlet says:

    I don’t know when the changeover from conductors to on-board supervisors on Southern (following the signing of new contracts) takes place. I would have expected about a month but maybe it’s longer than this. However, I can’t see how the on-board supervisors can legally strike on any of the announced days which maybe after the changeover, as no ballot of on-board supervisors has taken place. Given, also, that the ostensible ground for the dispute concerns whether conductors should continue to close doors, the changeover removes the basis for the dispute as on-board supervisors will not close the doors. Does this not mean that a new ballot and a different ground for dispute will be needed. The question of the ‘guarantee’ of a second staff member on the train (as opposed to dispensing with the second member only in ‘exceptional circumstances’) might form this, but without some more development I find it hard to see how the dispute can continue for very long.

  516. ngh says:

    Re Quinlet,

    As mentioned above last week the route conversion is gradual and the first batch of services (circa 100) converted to OBS on Monday last week.
    So for example Horsham – Dorking operated by 377s (but not 455s which need guards) ran during this strike post conversion to OBS but not in the last strike. The conversion resulted in about an extra 80 services /day running in this strike. The current OBS are former revenue protection inspectors.

  517. ngh says:

    Re Quinlet,

    And if the OBS go on strike the trains run anyway as it is an exceptional circumstance so no point in balloting!

    Plenty of GTR vs union action to come with Drivers and Station staff negotiations overdue.

    The interesting argument will be on other franchises probably starting at GWR where DOO stock driven by the ex NSE/Thames trains drivers and their successors moves west into former Non-DOO territory.

  518. Annoyed-ymous says:

    Having resorted to sarcasm – sorry – then stepped away from my computer, I’ve returned to find myself in complete agreement with WW and Graham H but also Malcolm. Comments from drivers and other frontline staff are valuable and informative but one of the unwritten rules of commenting seems to be that if your opinion is based on (deliberate?) misunderstandings and scaremongering then it’s pretty worthless.

    It’s also annoying when backed up by “TOCs executives don’t care about safety” type nonsense. I am but a humble passenger but on my commute my TOC, which still has guards, and has started hiring additional staff – some from security companies, which raises different questions – to ‘help’ passenger flows at stations, particularly on narrow staircases and to ‘help’ passengers on/off trains quickly and safely. So in fact adding cost to help address a safety and performance issue.

  519. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Malcolm – it’s a tad difficult to be understanding about driver’s concerns when sweeping statements condemn our ability to be understanding because we don’t do the job in question. If you take that concept to its (il)logical conclusion then we can never understand anyone unless we do identical jobs or participate in other identical activities. That’s clearly ridiculous and is borderline insulting to individuals’ mental and empathetic capabilities. I have not discounted the many very good accounts from drivers over many months of discussion of PTI issues. I’ve also learnt a lot about driver stress which is another topic seemingly not in scope of the RMT / GTR dispute when it really should be if the issues were being properly discussed and negotiated. I understand the point you make but there are ways to catch someone’s attention and also ways to cause people to switch off. I’ll leave that there for others to contemplate.

  520. 100andthirty says:

    WW ….very well put. I think you’ve alluded to another issue to do with industrial relations. Workforce health and safety representatives have a legal role and right to be consulted about health and safety issues. In unionised organisations these are usually TU elected roles. The other TU role is to negotiate on terms and conditions of employment. Outside of the railway industry, it is generally true that reputable employers actively seek the input of the TU’s or workers as the case may be on job design/safety/wellbeing. Even in the railways, health and safety representatives, in my experience, generally do a good job in representing their colleagues on H&S issues. Their only blind spot seems to be an unwillingness to see the wide expanse of grey between unsafe (black) and safe (white). Often I’ve been asked if something is safe, and I soon learned to internalise any argument of risk and say “safe” and anything else defaulted in their minds to unsafe. Of course if I thought it was unsafe, I didn’t need them to take action, I’d take it myself!

    Over the last 10 years or so. I saw a gradual drift whereby H&S consultation issues tended to be merged by the TUs with terms and conditions negotiations. This led to the various disputes over safety issues which were really job losses (and these losses almost never involved compulsory redundancy). The public soon stopped listening to the safety card being played and saw the disputes for what they are.

    The sad thing, though is that sometimes management gets things wrong and there is a real safety issue. However the TU’s have cried wolf too often, now that they get no public support.

    The other sad thing here is that there has been no calm debate about the right level of staffing for trains, (ie where and in what circumstances), and this current dispute is certainly not shedding any light on what is an important issue.

  521. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    @100&30: Yes, it could be argued that there should be a guard per coach and that everyone on board (including the punters) should have followed a safety training course before they are allowed to travel.

    However that would be considered laughable… In between is a grey area… As ngh pointed out above, in the case of the Watford landslip, the guard was more of an OBS…

  522. Graham H says:

    @SHLR – some of the more far seeing schools began some years ago to introduce the concept of risk into their curriculum, on the basis, of course, that we all accept a degree of risk in our daily lives and in the advice we get – whether it’s a visit to the doctors or driving a car, but my impression is that for many, risk is still either total or non-existent. [Ally this to the “it must be the fault of someone else” belief and you have a heady mixture for silliness].

  523. 100andthirty says:

    SHLR, Graham H…..As the Watford derailment is “my line” as it were, I have more than a passing interest and I have no doubt that the guards performed a valuable function during that incident. It remains to be seen exactly what that function was until RAIB produce their report. OK, the drivers protected the trains with the GSMR, but there would have been a great deal more to do even if there were “only” 160 people on the train. What we won’t know is what might have happened in different circumstances all of which were plausible leaving us to be grateful it wasn’t a whole lot worse. I suggest three scenarios:
    – no guard
    – the derailment caused the train to provide a more severe foul of the down line
    – the second train was running a little earlier and hit the derailed train at speed.

    I suppose all three of these in combination is also a plausible scenario.

  524. Graham H says:

    @130 -for the avoidance of doubt, I am sure that guards (by whatever name) may have important customer-facing roles,including during the results of accidents (setting aside,of course, the further risk scenario amongst those you mention that the guards themselves may be injured or killed during the incident). It’s just that there is no functional or logical link between these activities and operating the doors. And for what it’s worth, I suspect that if RMT had majored on the former clutch of issues and not on door opening, they would have had a lot more sympathy from the public.

  525. Malcolm says:

    Some very good points by 130 there, particularly the recent apparent merging of H&S consultation issues with terms and conditions negotiations. That strikes me as wholly unfortunate in its results, but also probably not really anybody’s fault exactly. There is bound to be some unavoidable overlap – one example would be that giving any employee additional safety-related tasks to do (such as single-handed train dispatch) could be seen as both a worsening of conditions of service (more stress) but also potentially an issue requiring unions to act as a back-stop against possible management health and safety mistakes. But it is a great shame if this overlap ends up wrecking the unions’ back-stop capabilities.

    As for public education on risk – that is badly needed. Examples abound, I could digress for hours on them (but I won’t).

  526. 100andthirty says:

    Graham H….I absolutely agree with you. My comments have nothing to do with who operates the doors. I am quite clear about that. The doors should be operated by someone who has a clear view of the PTI. Generally this person is the driver if given the right aids. Not all lines, routes stations or trains have the right aids.

    My comments were about a safety role for a second person. As a digression, I think that bringing into use the term “safety critical”… the Health and Safety Executive when HMRI were with them……did a dis-service to the industry as gave the impression that a role not deemed “safety critical” is not essential. This is not true. Just as there are levels of risk, there are also different contributions of different staff to the safefy of the railway. The debate should be when and where a second person is needed. Then resource accordingly. Would a plane take off with a member of cabin crew missing?

    My starter-for-10 is that services that conform largley to the characteristics of tube services…….all stations services closely spaced ….. can be DOO. I am less certain what should happen on other lines.

  527. Malcolm says:

    I agree that safety-critical is a bad term, because it suggests a binary divide, as if any role is either definitely safety-critical, or definitely not. On a crowded, curved rush-hour platform, a station-based dispatcher would typically be safety-critical, whereas someone doing the same thing at Kempston Hardwick on a wet Tuesday would be a waste of effort. Another comparator would be on a ship, where almost all of the crew are trained up to work lifeboats and such when needed, but the rest of the time they may be selling perfume or emptying ashtrays.

  528. 100andthirty says:

    Malcolm…….you’ve been reading Diamond Geezer?

    Even the curved platform at rush hour wouldn’t need a safety critical platform dispatcher if the visual aids are OK. On the tube, many platform staff are there to hustle the customers on and off the train. They may not be “safety critical” in the sense we’ve been debating but they are critical to delivering the service. That said, there are a few stations (try Bank Northern line in the evening peak – dead straight platforms) where the platform staff do a damn fine safety duty when there are no train there because of the crowds. I suspect their role is even more important on narrow the island at a few stations on the south end of the Northern line.

  529. Twopenny Tube says:

    re 130 @ 14:49 and Malcolm @ 17:39
    Briefly reasons why H&S negotiations and consultations leak into general terms and conditions (other than seeking headlines or being otherwise vexatious):

    Health and Safety remained relatively secure in the formal requirements for employers to meet and talk to representatives of their workforce, while other obligations (or rights if you looking from the shop floor upwards) were steadily eroded during the changes (I would like to be more emotive) to employment law over the last 35 or so years.

    Thus in search of legally protected rights of representation and to retain some semblance of credibility, safety committees, safety reps etc grew in importance, relative to shop stewards and area officers.

    EC rules and regulations in H&S have had to be applied in the UK more thoroughly than other aspects of employment relations. Example – the working time directive had to be followed far more effectively because it was under the H&S banner, than the EC stuff about union recognition, that does not have as much force of EU law, and which successive UK governments of all persuasions have followed in the most perfunctory way they can get away with.

    Union recognition is less fraught in the safety area, than in trying to get recognition and a credible place in joint approaches to general industrial relations.

    Lastly, (unless further comments spark a need for more thoughts) as has been alluded to above, H&S often does overlap inextricably with service conditions. At one extreme of ‘pure’ H&S there is keeping an overview on personal protective equipment, or emergency procedures, or whatever. At the other, overlapping with or part of terms and conditions, there might be issues about duties and who is responsible for what, and what they should be called and paid etc which brings us back to train crews and platform duties. At which point it seems appropriate to stop.

  530. quinlet says:

    “My starter-for-10 is that services that conform largley to the characteristics of tube services…….all stations services closely spaced ….. can be DOO.”
    I’m not certain I follow that line of thought. Does that mean all stations closely spaced and staffed? Are you suggesting that it’s a function of the time taken to get to the next station? I can see that there might be an argument concerning a fracas breaking out on a train and that a driver with no other trained person might need to get outside help quickly. But if the next station is unstaffed it won’t help much unless, with communication, the police or other help can be ready and waiting. In which case (a) it doesn’t matter if the train is scheduled to stop there or not; and (b) it will take a bit of time for the police to respond, in which case a station 2 minutes away may be less help than a station 5 minutes away.

    As others have pointed out, it’s a matter of the degree of risk. For some risks, a fire starting in an engine, for example, the risk is probably pretty similar for all types of service, in all locations, at all times of day. For other risks, there may be variations by time of day – drunks causing a disturbance are more likely late in the evening – by locations – risk of landslips unlikely in the fens, or cows on the line, unlikely in urban areas – or by type of service. It should, then, be possible to categorise each train service broadly according to the degree of risk and look at staffing to suite.

  531. Yet another twist to this saga.

    On the latest BBC report on this story it refers to

    It [Southern Railway presumably] is also planning to recruit a further 100 on-board supervisors to work across Southern and Gatwick Express services.

    So Charles Horton’s words to the select committee (referred to in this comment) do not appear to be just empty words.

    If it is true that Southern is planning to recruit more safety-trained onboard supervisors than the guards they are replacing and extend them to services currently operating without a second crew member it does make the RMT argument very difficult to defend. They can hardly argue an overall loss of safety given their passion for having a second crew member present. Other arguments such as disabled assistance would be invalidated too. So they would have to absolutely rely on arguing that it is safer for a guard to close the doors than to have the driver doing so.

  532. Jon says:

    The strange thing about the safety argument is that the RMT (which is for present purposes representing the guards) is rejecting a deal expressly offering lower responsibilities for the same pay.

    The union is actually demanding that their staff retain the responsibility (including potential criminal liability) for the platform-train interface.

    Taken at face value, the action almost seems to protect the drivers at the expense of the second crew member. This is odd because the drivers are a separate group of employees, not involved in this dispute, and many are not RMT members at all.

  533. ngh says:

    Re PoP and Jon,

    They have actually been advertising / recruiting for several months but recruiting via agencies rather than directly as they have traditionally done.

    The RMT need the safety critical role and guaranteed second member of staff to make strike action work in the future else any strike will have next to no impact on most Southern users hence the franchise holders can effectively dictate pay and conditions in the future.

    With the resignalling scheme on Sussex routes removing the last vestiges of local mechanical signalling boxes and level crossings and the transfer to Three Bridges ROC combined with replacement of 313s on the coast way services in the next franchise will dramatically reduce the guard requirement further and the RMT will struggle to stop it.

    The RMT and ASLEF also have the no DOO extension pact but we’ll have to see how well that holds up under sustained attack over the next few years. C2C and ASLEF are likely to come to deal very soon on 12car on C2C which would then go 100% DOO.

    THe other 2 key pieces from the article which had actaully surfaced over the weekend but only really got reported today:
    – ASLEF re-balloting all their relevant members due to a technicality, this means any strike action by drivers is unlikely before mass transfer from Guard to OBS on the affected routes.

    – 96% of affected Guards have signed up to the new contracts.

    With 23 strike days and another 8 planned can union members afford all the strike action?

  534. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Jon – the RMT’s issue is that the on board supervisor role is not essential to the operation of the train whereas, today, the guard is on a number of services. Their fear, an understandable one, is that while GTR may well be content to employ OBSs on a range of services today it is all too easy for GTR to cite “a change in circumstances” in the future that removes the OBS role from some or all services and therefore the network has gone OPO overnight. There are two related issues – long term job security for their members and the relative power and membership of the union. The latter point is not stated by the RMT but it’s clearly a legitimate concern for *them*, if not for the travelling public.

    As ever there are all sorts of issues and concerns in play here. Everyone likes to narrow down to one or two of them but there is a lot at stake for both sides in this dispute and what the railway looks like in the future. And that’s regardless of whether RMT and ASLEF have members in other TOCs or even GTR than run OPO services.

  535. Weary Driver says:

    “So they would have to absolutely rely on arguing that it is safer for a guard to close the doors than to have the driver doing so.”

    As a driver, I don’t need convincing. I don’t oppose DOO. I just oppose its reckless extension to places and times when it will be less safe. Twelve car trains on busy lines in the peaks. There are already plenty of places where existing DOO arrangements are less than satisfactory to my mind. If they are happy to put staff on the trains, why not have them as dispatchers when it’s safer for a second person on the platform to do it (usually in the peaks when they will have trouble getting through the train to provide “customer service” anyway) and leave DOO for the off peak periods when it is pretty much safe for the most part. Is this a typical government fudge, or is there a union bashing agenda here? It doesn’t make sense to remove guards doing dispatch completely otherwise.

    “Taken at face value, the action almost seems to protect the drivers at the expense of the second crew member. This is odd because the drivers are a separate group of employees, not involved in this dispute, and many are not RMT members at all.”

    The drivers are not formally involved in the current dispute, yet, but requiring them to take over train dispatch makes it very much their dispute. Drivers are unhappy about the extra risk they are being asked to take on potentially over 100 times a day, not to mention the responsibility for perhaps 1000 passengers on some trains.

  536. Purley Dweller says:

    Weary driver makes a point that could be used as negotiation. Where there are no platform staff in the Peak it would be safer. Bur pointless for the guard to despatch where platform staff exist.

  537. Anonymous says:

    I have memories of working as a guard on the Bakerloo back in the sixties. I’m not particularly interested in the present debate about about the technical pros and cons of driver only trains. However, I am very interested in the way ‘automation’ is impacting on every aspect of our lives. What I would say is that we had, as a train crew a generally very good camaraderie and social interaction, which I can not imagine exists today, though maybe I’m wrong? In my varied career I also worked for some seven years an auxiliary coastguard. Here I also witnessed automation and streamlining of well functioning systems in the name of ‘progress’. Watch keepers were withdrawn, and lighthouses automated, so what? may ask Jo public, and what does that have to do with railways? Let me explain what we we are losing, we are loosing our culture, and and we are loosing an important social dynamic that transmits knowledge and history from one generation to the next. Now we can only read ‘memories’ not share conversation in the canteen, in the case of knowledge of our coasts and tides what we have built up over some two hundred years will be lost in a single generation. Those who believe that that trains are safer under one man operation, well so be it, but I believe its simply down to money saving and maximising profit. In reply to some comments, yes as guards we were trained to drive the trains, yes we were responsible for passenger safety, and to my knowledge no guard would give the signal without ‘putting his head out of the doors’. It may be for example the the stick was against us. Collective memory, conversation and communication are as important to our present lives and the enrichment of our shared experiences as the memory of the individual. Imagine having a conversation with a man in the pub who has no knowledge of anything that happened yesterday, last week, or last year. In short that is the path where I believe automation is taking us, to a future of ‘one man operation’ is the norm in virtually every aspect of our lives, is that what we really want?

  538. Dan says:

    No we want ‘no man operation’.

  539. quinlet says:

    Anonymous is quite right to say that:
    “Collective memory, conversation and communication are as important to our present lives and the enrichment of our shared experiences as the memory of the individual need.”

    But that doesn’t mean that we have to keep all traditional ways of doing work. After all, we have lost gas lamp lighters and we have lost village blacksmiths without losing all collective memory. Even on the railways, we have lost the community that once existed at every station of the station master, ticket clerk, signalman and others. That community is retained only at the minority of larger and more important stations now.

    This doesn’t mean that some things haven’t been lost – they have – but maybe others have been gained. In any case, it doesn’t seem to me to make a case that we have to keep outdated or antiquated technologies or processes just for that benefit.

  540. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Quinlet – I appreciate we are veering somewhat off topic but I do wonder if the move towards so much electronic communication and massive volumes of same will prove to be detrimental. We’ve lost the art of writing letters, diaries etc and most people don’t have efficient back up and retention facilities. I also doubt people think about boring things like electronic data retention after their death – things like Flickr and the like. All that stuff will disappear rather than being passed on in a shoebox or file or scrapbook as in past generations. I know some institutions are making earnest efforts to back up websites and blogs etc but I think future historians will find a lack of family / individual histories in any sort of accessible format. And that’s before we get to issues of technical obsolescence and commercial decisions to close down sites and web based functionality.

    I know some of my ramblings and scribbles may well be backed up as a result of commenting on blogs but beyond that I know personal and former work E Mails etc are long gone and I haven’t sorted out what happens to my Flickr collection.

  541. Weary Driver says:

    Anonymous, there still is great camaraderie amongst train crews. At the moment most front line staff, especially at GTR, are feeling somewhat under attack (not just for the existence of their jobs but in the wider sense) and this brings people closer. There certainly is something in the long term homogenisation of everyday life and culture. It does feel as if the powers that be will not be happy until we are all pastel shirted individuals in cubicles, metaphorical and literal, unable to interact properly, and more importantly, challenge their view of things. However on a practical level there is increasing fear amongst train crew, particularly drivers, as to the sole responsibility they are being expected to take under increasingly difficult circumstances.

  542. quinlet says:

    I suspect that most people’s collection of photographs, etc get thrown away either before or after their deaths and what we see – intensely valuable as it is – is probably just a tiny fraction of what actually existed. Probably the same will be true for electronic records. I know that we are giving some thought about which records we need to keep, corporately, for the sake of a public record, and which we just delete to avoid unnecessary data retention. So far the indications are that we keep too much, not too little.

  543. Graham H says:

    @WearyDriver – and it’s not just occupations like yours where this is happening – the same is true of many white collar jobs, which are rapidly being commoditised, even lawyers and doctors, for example; the architect profession has long gone that way and engineering is following it fast as computer-aided design techniques spread.The trouble is that while we all like decent wages and salaries, there’s usually someone somewhere who will do it for less, and although obviously this doesn’t apply directly to “geographically fixed ” industries like railways, it does apply to the companies that own them, who face demands for higher profits to keep them competitive with other companies who can send their production off-shore. Even if you renationalised the railways (a Good Thing on other grounds) it doesn’t avoid the government du jour from having to borrow at international rates to pay for their investment. I don’t see an easy escape route.

    @ww/quinlet – this problem applies particularly to transport ephemera such as timetables, pricing charts, allocation books and the like. London is probably better served and even pampered in this respect with organisations like LHRG and LOTS, but even so, much is down to individuals – WW’s database on bus route useage, for example, or “Ian’s Bus Stop” site for route histories. What will become of this data when we reach the end of retirement (to use Osborne’s sinister phrase)? [And outside London, organisations and individuals doing any of this are as rare as hen’s teeth; already, it is virtually impossible to study the evolution of public transport in a county like mine – Surrey – where the operators change frequently and N&P bear only a passing resemblance to what happens on the ground].

  544. Ever More Weary Driver says:

    Most white collar workers don’t have direct responsibility for the well being of potentially hundreds of people on a day to day basis. Although doctors can kill people accidentally too.

  545. Graham H says:

    @Ever more weary driver – now I’m confused; how does the presence of a guard stop you having an accident in which hundreds die? (it would be difficult to think of a case where this had been so). Or do you mean there should be a second man in the cab?

  546. ngh says:

    Re Graham H,

    Indeed the RSSB reckon (based on RAIB and previously HMRI data and reports) it has been over 50 years since the presence of a guard prevented that kind of incident…

  547. Sad Fat Dad says:

    @Graham H, ngh,

    I suspect Even More Weary Driver was suggesting that the additional burden placed on drivers by having to close doors in addition to driving duties makes it more likely that he (or she) may make a safety critical mistake whilst driving that could lead to a major accident. Which is a logical conclusion, albeit not one that has been borne out in the practice of operating DOO services on parts of the network for a third of a century.

    Fortunately, the improvement in safety systems that help the driver stay safe (TPWS, ASDO, CSDE, GSMR etc – other acronyms are available) with more to come (ETCS, ATO) plus the general improvement in safety management systems, means that mistakes by drivers are less frequent and of significantly lower consequence than they were in “the good ol’ days”.

  548. timbeau says:

    @SFD, Graham H, etc.
    It is not so much avoiding mistakes as mitigating the consequences of such mistakes.

    One of the functions of the guard in the olden days was to protect the rear of the train in an emergency by flagging down any train approaching from the rear on the same, or a parallel, track – the footplate crew being responsible for doing the same for oncoming traffic. Less of an issue now with full track circuiting and cab to shore radio, etc. How many accidents, particularly derailments, were mitigated by the presence of the guard and fireman to avert collisions with a stranded train is probably impossible to say – no-one records disasters that were avoided.
    At least one accident – Cowden – has been blamed on there being too many people in the cab, although the logic escapes me as to why the presence of the guard in the cab (albeit unauthorised) had any bearing on why the driver passed the signal – after all, it is quite common for two people to be in the cab legitimately.

  549. Greg Tingey says:

    Dets & flags @ Clapham – except TPWS would/should prevent a re-run of that one …..

  550. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ SFD – I may have it wrong but my reading of the many comments from drivers on here over the months is concern about the cameras / monitors / mirrors / whatever being in poor condition or not working properly. This then forces a compromise as to how dispatch is done. The other major concern seems to be the impact of increasing patronage and resultant overcrowding / impatience as people try to board and alight. Coupled with ever increasing pressure to run trains on time and not have delayed dispatch this may, and I put it no more strongly than that, lead to a combination of circumstances that does lead to an incident. Given the increased willingness to chuck drivers in the clink for their alleged role in rail accidents I can completely understand why drivers are concerned. I’ve yet to see anything from anyone that explains how these concerns are going to be tackled in a proactive, consistent and measured way across the network. Was there an industry response to the ORR’s concerns about PTI management from about 2 years ago?

    It’s good the government and others are keen to see more people using the railway. What’s less good is an apparent lack of understanding of the consequences of such increased use especially as routes that haven’t needed any spend on them for years are now getting ludicrous levels of overcrowding but no apparent effort to deal with it.

  551. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Walthamstow Writer,

    Given the increased willingness to chuck drivers in the clink for their alleged role in rail accidents I can completely understand why drivers are concerned

    I would say that historically this was much more likely in the past. Notable in this context is Lewisham 1857 where the authorities tried to blame the driver for a sequence of mistakes – most the fault of the company. There are other similar cases.

    The one area where drivers are certainly more at risk today is if they fail a drink or drug test after a collision – but then they really have no excuse.

  552. timbeau says:

    “Given the increased willingness to chuck drivers in the clink for their alleged role in rail accidents”

    Have there been any recent examples of this? I am only aware of the James Street incident (which involved a guard, not a driver).

    Manslaughter charges were reported in some Victorian cases, but many did not result in convictions. (and doubtless there were more cases which might have resulted in convictions had the footplate crew survived the accident)

  553. 100andthirty says:

    SFD…”I may have it wrong but my reading of the many comments from drivers on here over the months is concern about the cameras / monitors / mirrors / whatever being in poor condition or not working properly.”

    This should lead to fixing the problems – and compromise should only be a short term at worst solution. Some fixes are easy – maintenance issues, for example: some are more intractable – curves/sunlight for example. However a systematic review and programme for fixing should yield benefits and some of the might include platform dispatchers at some locations/times.

  554. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ 100&30 – you are, of course, quite correct and it is what happened on LU when I was involved in PTI issues. Took a hell of a lot of work but I think we got there in the end although there is always a small residual element of individual drivers working in a way which is divergent from the assessment process. Typically standing to drive rather than sit which gives a different line of sight when using PTI assets. What is concerning is that there is no commentary from main line drivers that a similar approach has been / is being adopted by GTR (and other operators).

    @ PoP / Timbeau – sorry, looks like I wasn’t completely up to date. Let’s rephrase things – we are in a somewhat more litigious age and the way I’ve read drivers’ comments is that they are worried that “one slip” will put them at risk of prosecution. None of them will want to ever be in a position where they are “testing the waters” so to speak.

  555. Even More Weary Driver says:

    That was the point I was making Sad Fat Dad. With regard to safe operating for 30 years I think it’s hard for non drivers to grasp how often we see something happen at the “PTI” that could have turned nasty – pretty much every day – that on some occasions a guard would definitely have spotted. And whilst there is thus far only the Merseyrail guard case that has ended in a jail term, there is another case from the same area in the wings that could have extremely serious implications for dispatch full stop, let alone DOO. Can’t speculate but it could effectively render every driver, guard and platform dispatcher in fear of doing their job all the time! Meanwhile all we hear from our managers is “don’t move if you’re not sure” which given the variability of conditions in terms of crowds, weather, physical environment of station etc, could mean no train moves during the morning peak! We are increasingly told we have a duty of care and responsibility for passengers even when they choose to ignore hustle alarms, stick limbs in closing doors, run at trains as they move off (why do they do that?!) and so on. Yet we can’t even see what’s going on once we’re moving! Then add all the dodgy mirrors etc that nothing gets done about because Network Rail doesn’t want to spend money to replace them with monitors when all trains will have in cab screens one day; and the TOC doesn’t want to pay for dispatch staff; and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to see we are feeling as if we are in an increasingly untenable position.

  556. Pedantic of Purley says:

    run at trains as they move off (why do they do that?!)

    It is one example of a form of behaviour that persists and is copied by a later generation even though the purpose of it has disappeared. Irrational but part of the way we instinctively learn from the generation before (and sometimes the generation before that). It is a perfectly sensible course of action if the train is pulled by an steam train (very slow initial acceleration) and you can open the passenger doors yourself.

    Other examples that persist, or persisted until recently, are tapping on the phone to alert the operator and revving up the car engine prior to switching off to boost the battery so the car would be more likely to start then next time the ignition was switched on. There are no doubt others but these are sufficient to make the point so no non-transport digression please.

  557. Old Buccaneer says:

    PoP: I’ve just seen an expression of gratitude to train crew for opening the doors in that situation, tagged “everyday kindness”. I draw the conclusion that the behaviour persists because it’s rewarded.

    The train in question was the 0647 from somewhere on the Wombles Loop up Crossrail 0.0.9. Good luck getting 24 tph through the Fulsome Farringdon section if those practices continue.

  558. timbeau says:

    “run at trains as they move off (why do they do that?!)”
    Momentum. If you are running for a train because the doors are still open (or it is round a corner and you can’t see that they’ve already closed) your momentum will continue to carry you towards the train for a second or so after you realise it’s too late. The less frequent or reliable the service, the more likely people are to hurl themselves at closing doors in the hope they’ll get through, and the expectation that, if they fail, the train will still be there to stop them running off the platform edge.

    (I would be the first to acknowledge the flaw in that logic, having managed, many years ago, to fall off the platform edge in such circumstances even though the train was not only still there, but still had its doors open – I tripped.)

    (And, as OB says, there is always the hope that the behaviour might be rewarded if the driver or guard takes pity on you)

  559. 100andthirty says:

    Even More Weary Driver makes some good points. The organisation I used to work for was an vertically integrated railway that could (and did) make decisions taking account of operations, rolling stock and other infrastructure needs. For DOO to be successful, the person controlling the platform train interface needs a “clear view of the PTI”. This is not trivial to provide and is unlikely to be the same solution (involving people, process and equipment) at all sites. A joint up solution is required. My former employer had review groups comprising operators, union reps and engineers who discussed the issues in the round (ie everyone contributed to all the problems).

    There are also some simple things that can be done, such as:
    1) Reminding all dispatchers (drivers or other persons) that they provide the main protection against pieces of clothing or even hands caught in doors. Door interlock systems can’t detect such objects unless sensitive edge door rubbers are used.
    2) Although it is usual that people get off first and then people get on, some people (elderly, unfamiliar, laden with luggage etc) do get off late. Drivers can’t see people alighting until they appear though the doors. Therefore doors need to be open for long enough to allow for late alighters. 10 seconds is not enough.

    More complicated but, in my view, necessary:
    3) Trains should be designed such that if any door close button in pressed, any door in the act of opening should complete its opening and then sound the door close alarm before closing.

  560. Del_tic says:

    [Deleted text as we don’t need both the link and a complete copy and paste of the text it links to. PoP]

  561. 100andthirty says:

    I remember being told by a very experienced and respected “old hand” in the industry in charge of large numbers of front line workers who’s now in a very senior spot (and who’d better remain anonymous) that if a union gets a large mandate from a high turnout, management has probably got something wrong and it’s time to get round the table.

  562. Jim elson says:

    ASLEF always gets a large mandate & usually wins 95 % of what it wants. It is not necessarily because it is right, but because it has the power to stop the trains. DOO is worldwide & has proved its safety day in day out for 30 years in the UK, & for longer in many other advanced countries. The government keeps talking about how our productivity lags behind other countries. Abandoning DOO which is ASLEF & RMT’s proclaimed strategy will damage our railways & add to costs & inflexibility. It will now turn very nasty on Southern. But the Government must insist that the DOO which has been introduced there recently remains & is extended to the last remaining route on the Southern. Otherwise the railway will be demonstrably run by ASLEF. Veteran retired managers say that that has been the case since the sixties. London’s suburban rail services,which apart from Waterloo & Euston,have been DOO for ages, will presumably revert to guard operation. That will be hugely increase manpower costs. Who will pay for it,the taxpayer,the traveller?

  563. Graham H says:

    @Jim elson – so much rhetoric from you, I’m afraid. I know pretty well all the veteran senior BR managers, many as good friends, and I don’t know one who would claim that the railways have been “run by ASLEF” since the ’60s. And it’s virtually impossible to see that existing DOO services will revert to having guards. I’ll mention your views for a laugh at the next RROS meeting…

  564. IslandDweller says:

    Jim. How come other companies (such as C2C) seem to manage to introduce new trains with DOO yet GoVia (in their Southern brand) can’t. Is it Aslef who are wholly intransigent? Or do GoVia need to take a hard look in the mirror about their managerial abilities (or lack thereof).

  565. Anonymous says:

    Could be a South Central management issue. It’s interesting that on that network you still see mirrors from the 90s, some not very good at all, and drivers leaning out of 455s trying to see the back of their trains. On South Eastern, also a GoVia franchise, 12 car DOO was introduced with a much shorter dispute, and every platform has monitors, always on the side which the doors should be opened. More satisfactory arrangement all round.

  566. ngh says:

    Re Anon 2127,

    But on the latest routes where DOO has been extended it is for 377s only not 455s where they both operate (for example Dorking -Horsham). Most of the busier stations where 455s operate have long since had the mirrors replaced by monitors along time ago.
    The 455s probably have a life span of 6-8 years left on Southern.

  567. ngh says:

    And the latest RMT press release (for those who have a sense of humour):

    “RMT is saddened to hear of the death of our comrade and inspiration Fidel Castro…
    “But now we get on with the job of organising for the future just as Fidel Castro would have wanted us to do … ”

    It isn’t 1st April and one suspects this press release might be quoted for years to come by the press.

    Might it hint at a certain resistance to change?

  568. Graham H says:

    @ngh — shouldn’t think RMT would have liked Castro’s railway policies if the state of the Hershey interurban is a guide…

  569. Matt Sawyer says:

    Actually there are several busy stations that still have monitors and are frequently used by 8 car long 455s:

    Honor Oak Park
    Norwood Junction
    Mitcham Junction
    Wandsworth Common
    Queens Road Peckham
    East Dulwich

    Plus many locations where crowding makes look back or even a monitored dispatch difficult at peak times. 6-8 years of life left isn’t much help to drivers who are in the hot seat now.

    The notion that because DOO is being extended to 377 only routes now is falling foul of the concept that DOO was set in stone decades ago was safe then and the conditions haven’t changed. They have changed massively – both physically in terms of numbers travelling and train lengths and in legal/social terms – passengers not taking responsibility for own actions, wandering around with their attention on their phone rather than where they are putting their feet etc etc. There have been plenty reports also of the inadequacy of 377 cameras in sunlight – including a fairly shocking photo of a monitor bank on Twitter which was conveniently ignored.

  570. ngh says:

    Re Matt Sawyer

    “The notion that because DOO is being extended to 377 only routes now is falling foul of the concept that DOO was set in stone decades ago was safe then and the conditions haven’t changed.”

    The 377 only DOO routes have stations without platform monitors or short platforms hence 455 on those routes require a Guard for door closing purposes or for the short platforms to lock out the rear unit of an 8 car 455. As the investment hasn’t been / isn’t being made in those stations they remain guard operated for that part of the services when using 455s. No change in position, If the 455s couldn’t do it then (1991) they can’t do it now.

    I was replying to Anon @2127 about the original curved mirrors being replaced by monitors over the years especially at busy locations (add about another 35-40 location to your list) where they will remain till the 455s retire, hence it is stating the obvious that they remain in use at busy stations! Balham has platform dispatch staff…

    “passengers not taking responsibility for own actions”
    The first court case where that seemed to endorse this actually involved a BR (South Central div) operated EPB with a guard on the Up slow at Wandsworth Common, that incident couldn’t have happened with 455s.

    LU manages to cope with platform monitors on very busy stations both above and below ground.

  571. Pedantic of Purley says:

    LU manages to cope with platform monitors on very busy stations both above and below ground

    Which is not the same as saying that this is current best practice. LU, despite shorter trains, seem to be way ahead of everyone else in the UK with platform-based cameras and cab-based monitors. Also a much more disciplined despatch regime.

    On LU the platform monitors are actually quite an encumbrance because in many stations passenger doors can’t open because the monitors are in the way and SDO is needed when otherwise it wouldn’t be.

    To my mind this dispute has always been about three separate issues which, sadly, seem to be tossed about and mixed together to produce fear, uncertainty and doubt. I see the issues as:

    1) Should trains, or at least manually driven trains, have a minimum of two members of staff aboard? If “sometimes” then when?

    11) In principle, is it better practice for the driver or the guard (where there is one) to close the doors?

    III) If we accept that the driver closes the doors in principle, what is the preferred method of achieving this and is any equipment provided sufficiently good for this to be done as safely as it should be.

    I would argue in principle it is hard to argue that the driver closing the doors is not safe and the RMT case for arguing that it safer with a guard seems completely flawed and totally lacking in any kind of scientific rigour.

    It is hard to see how it is more dangerous than having the guard doing it in the cases where you have good platform assisted dispatch or platform edge doors. So, on the “who closes the doors?” issue, I would argue that it is only about how satisfactory the procedure is for the driver to close the doors.

    I totally understand the concerns of drivers and others but haven’t seen a single argument of any plausible merit that undermines the principle. On LU (and ultimately Crossrail) I would say that on most lines it is pretty much as safe as it could be – and don’t forget the video in the article showing how lackadaisical having the guard closing the door can be.

  572. Malcolm says:

    PoP: I think your analysis of the issue, splitting things into your three separate questions, is very helpful.

    There is, however, a slight overlap between your questions (I) and (II) which complicates things slightly. Assuming (I)=sometimes, and the criterion is something to do with the number of passengers in the train, then small (possibly sub-threshold) safety benefits under the two headings might combine to jointly require a guard.

    In other words, if the guard makes a small improvement in safety by being around to look after passengers if a train is halted with a sick driver, and also makes a small safety improvement by putting the driver under slightly less pressure on departure, then these two small benefits added together might justify a guard, when either one alone might not.

    I agree that the argument that train dispatch alone is done more safely by the guard is a hard one to sustain. But it’s more tenable to claim that the whole train operation is (in some circumstances) safer if the guard closes the doors – simply because it gives the driver more chance to pay attention to all their other responsibilities.

  573. ngh says:

    Re Malcolm,

    But reducing pressure on the driver could also be achieved by other means such as more advanced signalling e.g ATO, TMS or C-DAS all of which have other benefits as well.

    Investing in more sophisticated signalling vs guards on trains becomes an investment choice at high levels in very broad space due to where the benefits and costs lie.

  574. But Malcolm, the driver is always involved in the dispatching procedure. If a guard is present he has to acknowledge the starting signal. It is also the drivers ultimate responsibility to check the signal is clear (the guard, where present, should do this too nowadays). The danger is, as shown in accidents (e.g. Bellgrove) is that the addition of a guard leads to a “ding, ding and away” mentality. That is, it doesn’t improve safety but reduces it.

    You have reminded me of another issue that hasn’t been mentioned and that is the desirability for consistency. It is generally accepted as bad practice to have operating procedures being different depending on circumstances. This is often unavoidable but not desirable. You really don’t want to unnecessarily be in a situation where, possibly with a journey, the driver closes the doors himself sometimes or needs the guard to do it at others. Best they stick to one procedure or the other.

  575. Malcolm says:

    Pedantic says “That is, it [the guard closing the doors] doesn’t improve safety but reduces it.

    This may well be so. But I don’t think that it has been accepted by any union, so it cannot be put in the “common ground” category, whereas much of the rest of what you said in your excellent summary quite probably can.

    I agree about consistency, but as far as I have heard, the choice of who closes the doors has never yet varied within one journey. But it does, famously, vary as between different journeys on the same tracks, and quite possibly as between different journeys operated by the same driver, and that inconsistency, as you say, is far from ideal.

  576. Malcolm says:

    Pedantic: Yes of course the driver is involved in the dispatching procedure. But a case can still be made that the involvement when a guard shuts the doors is less stressful, and less of a distraction from other parts of the job, than a DOO dispatch.

  577. Malcolm says:

    ngh: I agree that other means of reducing pressure on the driver are available. But at least in principle, these could be added as well as retaining guards, getting even more benefits. Your mention of investment choices does remind us, however, that the guard question is, at least in part, about money. (As, sadly, are so many things these days).

  578. Man of Kent says:

    [email protected]

    Door closing procedure *can* vary within the same journey. For example, Southeastern mainline services are capable of running in DOO between London termini and certain outer stations, and do so when no guard is available. Thus a driver would be responsible for closing doors at Victoria, Bromley South (with dispatch staff) and continue to Swanley, where a guard would board and takeover the role at stations beyond.

  579. Anonymous says:

    re “LU manages to cope with platform monitors on very busy stations both above and below ground”

    That is something I would like to challenge.

    Recently I travelled on the tube on a Saturday when it was really packed and this is what I have witnessed. I had my two young children with me and have now become familiar with a really dangerous thing happening on the tube: the doors closing before all the passengers have either got off or boarded.

    I have already had several near-misses with my kids so now I make sure I hold their hands tight when getting off or on. I make of point of checking whether there are platform staff, and on this occasion there were not.

    A packed tube train pulls into Kings Cross. It seems like the whole carriage is getting off. The platforms are also packed. It was at least a minute before the last passenger got off the carriage I was waiting to board. As that happened I had just put my foot in the door when the doors begin to shut. As I had already started to board, I was forced to hold the door open – whilst holding the hand of my four year old. I board the tube with her behind me – the door totally shuts on her – she catches her head in the door. There are several passengers behind me. I force the door open again, pull my daughter in. The passengers on the platform behind me have also still not boarded. A woman with a suitcase starts to move through the open door. It shuts on her – so she is trapped in the door – with her suitcase on the platform. I force open the door and she gets on, in a state of shock. She saw what happened to my daughter and asks if she is ok. We walk about how dangerous it is becoming on London’s tube network in busy times and how you have to be totally alert to avoid losing your luggage – let alone being separated from your children.

    At Oxford Circus a terrible thing happens: Again, the carriage is packed, and the platform has a dense crowd on it. The tube door opens, and passengers disembark, and just before those on the platform get on, a mother with a child in a buggy suddenly realises its her station and moves to the door. She just gets the buggy out – and the wrong way – she should have turned the buggy around and got out first – the buggy was half-way through the doors when they shut – she panics and somehow loses control of the buggy and lets go. The buggy with child inside falls face first onto the platform. I immediately reach for the emergency stop – but don’t pull it. The driver must have seen this – the doors open, and the mother gets out and a crowd gathers around the upside down buggy. The whole carriage is shaking their heard in disbelief at what has happened. What if the child had not been strapped in correctly in the rush to get off?

    Fortunately the child is OK, the buggy has protected her. Door shuts, and tube moves off after a delay of around two minutes. No platform staff were present at this station (Oxford Circus).

    What concerns me here is the
    a) there were no platform staff on two tube platforms packed with passengers
    At the very least during busy periods (7 days a week, not rush hours Mon-Fri), there should be platform staff to see trains off on busiest stations in Central London. Having one person on the platform to shout “stand away” and not allow the train to leave until it it clear that it is safe

    b) the driver in both cases shuttting the doors before all the passengers had boarded.
    My opinion is that when you have a driver looking at too many screens with too many people on an overcrowded platform this is recipe for a disaster.

    How many incidents like the ones I witnessed go unreported?
    If one incident like the ones I have seen are happening every hour at every busy station in central London then that should be of serious concern. Yes, there are control rooms with again sometimes just one person looking at a large number of different screens, so its possible for them to miss things as well.

    This has happened to me before with young children – in another incident the driver shut the doors on my as my buggy was half on the train. Surely he would have seen a parent with a buggy on the platform and double-checked that that person boarded safely? Maybe he was distracted. Again with no platform staff, the safety of passengers is being compromised severely. I read another story of a child being separated from his parents due to doors being close prematurely.

    I was prompted to post this after reading in The Guardian that TSSA general secretary, Manuel Cortes said:

    “Our customer service assistants are overwhelmingly trying to warn the public that the tube they use is not safe. We no longer have enough staff,” he said.

    I am not writing this because I support strikes, or guards. I am writing this as I can see the tube is becoming a dangerous place were a moments slip of attention could mean you losing your kids, serious injury or worse. Tube drivers are under pressure to keep the trains moving and doing this alone is compromising the safety of the public. No amount of cameras, computers, driverless techology will make the tube safer – only maintaining a proportionate level of staff to the numbers of people using the services will ensure that.

  580. Ian J says:

    @anonymous: Our customer service assistants are overwhelmingly trying to warn the public that the tube they use is not safe

    It is hard to see how the TSSA think that returning staff to ticket offices (which is what they are campaigning for) would make the platform-train interface safer.

  581. timbeau says:

    Whilst I recognise these problems, I don’t think any of it is new, or limited to the Underground. On the NR line I use, which still has guards, it is not unknown for guards to be under so much pressure to keep to time that they often try to close the doors before everyone who wishes to do so has alighted – let alone anyone having a chance to board. (They frequently omit stops altogether, such is the priority given to keeping to time, even if that means the train arrives empty!) At least on the Tube there is usually another train in a few minutes if there isn’t time for everyone to get on the first one.

    Being responsible for other people, particularly children, does make you more aware of the hazards though. As we had the benefit of a workplace nursery, my children were daily commuters before they could walk, but when the oldest was old enough not to need to ride in a buggy, we devised the drill of “Last on, First off”. (Because a grown up can stop the train more easily if they are already/still on it). And if you do get separated from the grown ups, wait where you are (or at the next stop if you are left on the train) and the grown ups will come to you.

    We did get separated once, when – at the age of two, my eldest boarded a train at York when my back was turned. (A non-stop service to Kings Cross). Fortunately, the station is staffed and we were able to get the train held until he could be located.

  582. Anonymous says:

    Anonymous at 1.02 – more people need to realise how these situations develop. You are right – many such incidents go unreported every day because they have become an everyday occurrence. Since it’s being intimated to me that it’s my problem, not the person involved and not the TOC, if one of them does something that I can’t see, I now just wait and wait and wait. Sometimes until the platform is empty if it’s narrow, or I have to shut down the cab and walk back, and am sometimes accumulating large delays in the peaks, and I’m sorry for that, but I’m no longer willing to put my neck on the line. If they want to reduce staff all round, this is the inevitable result. No customer service. No ticket checks. Big delays. Who benefits exactly?

  583. John U.K. says:

    Please, can the assorted Anonymice sort out some discrete monikers? Sometimes it gets very confusing.

  584. Timbeau says:

    @ The most recent anonymous.

    Waiting for the platform to clear won’t work at busy stations like Oxford Circus, of course.

  585. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Reading the above, nothing convinces me of the need for a guard who would be in exactly the same situation as the driver. This is especially true when running ATO and opening and closing the doors is the primary part of “driving”. It does suggest the advantages of platform edge doors and also restricting access to the platforms at very busy times (not always possible at interchange station). Also this shows the importance of having staff on the platform where they are best able to deal with potential incidents.

    I am starting to think that, on a busy line, a service with platform edge doors but no staff on board the train is actually safer than one with either one or two members of staff on board. And lets not forget busy Ligne 1 in Paris has been adapted to run without staff on board – apparently without problems. Also Ligne 14 was built years ago and run with no staff on board from the outset – also apparently without problems.

    Anonymous 07:45

    Good for you. If the procedures are wrong and unworkable then they should be shown up as that. It is then up to management to come up with something better that is workable. If you try to hard to overcome the problem by breaking the rules the danger is that those who need to know don’t realise there is a problem – or at least don’t realise the seriousness of it.

  586. ngh says:

    re Anonymous @ 0102,

    have now become familiar with a really dangerous thing happening on the tube: the doors closing before ALL the passengers have either got off or boarded.

    A packed tube train pulls into Kings Cross. It seems like the whole carriage is getting off. The platforms are also packed. It was at least a minute before the last passenger got off the carriage I was waiting to board. As that happened I had just put my foot in the door when the doors begin to shut.

    I think you and many other tube users have a critical misunderstanding already partially alluded to by Timbeau.

    Let me explain (and please don’t shoot the messenger!):
    Presumably as Kings Cross to Oxford Circus this is the Victoria Line Southbound?

    The frequency of Victoria Line service has been increased over the last 6 years with new rolling stock, signalling and infrastructure improvements and the frequency was recently (in 2016) increased to 36 trains per hour or a train every 100seconds.

    See this LR article for more background:

    A train every 100s can’t have a dwell time of more than about 45s (ideally 35s) without disrupting the timetable and causing delays, hence the drivers need to try to close the doors (pre-empted by the hustle alarm) to run to timetable not when ALL the passengers have boarded.
    Passengers need to understand that the train won’t wait for them to board any more and they need to wait for the next service. This of course means that it will take you a very long time to get on tube at busy stations with a high frequency tube service and lots of passengers getting off. The frequency change this year has reduced station dwell times by 9.1s hence the increased pressure to close the doors.
    As a semi-regular Victoria line user I have notice many users have adapted to this change and are more willing to wait than previously but many users don’t seem to have noticed.

  587. The second Anonymous says:

    The problem is, ngh, timbeau et al, is that is not how the passenger mind thinks. They think they can take as long as they like and they do not think about the wider consequences, however logical. They are even indignant when they arrive late or arrive early and find a delayed train when they cannot board because its doors have closed. This is the essence of the debate to me; ONE PERSON i.e. The driver is increasingly being required to take responsibility for actions he cannot control under unpredictable conditions. Even though a guard faces similar problems, there are two pairs of eyes involved. The guard/dispatcher can see certain things that the driver can’t, and the driver can sometimes spot things after the doors have closed. If all we do is take away the extra pair of eyes, we are accepting that we are relying on one person despite the unpredictable conditions and different view of things – fine – that’s how DOO has worked. But what is filtering through to drivers now is that is it not fine to accept this, and now the driver is being asked to take on an unreasonable level of responsibility that is potentially beyond his ability. In this climate an extension of DOO seems dubious. Either forget DOO, make DOO more watertight, or accept its CURRENT limitations – but don’t then expect more of the man at the front if there are not to be changes to the tools he has.

  588. Pedantic of Purley says:


    Not quite 36tph yet. It should have been but that was put back to 2017. I think this was due to delays negotiating with Siemens on signalling software changes and also the need to give priority to software changes for the Night Tube. It is currently 105 seconds between trains not 100 but the principle stands.

    Apparently, this change in attitude (let the train go and wait for the next one) was quickly spotted. It is hoped peer pressure will eventually stop this madness of people holding the doors. It probably doesn’t even make their journey quicker as the slightest delay multiplies at each subsequent station. Much worse, people don’t understand that you won’t get that time back until after the peak when services start to thin out a bit. So currently delaying a train on the Victoria line in peak hours by just 35 seconds means you have effectively reduced the capacity of the line from 34.28tph to 33.95tph. It is hard to think of a more selfish action although I do feel there is a bit of “forgive them for they know not what they are doing”.

  589. 100andthirty says:

    I would add that the doors on the Victoria line are the “most forgiving” (which might also mean “most easily interfered with”) as they do detect obstacles, back off and try to close again. Try that three times and the door stops working and the close cycle for that door needs to be started again. They also have sensitive edges in case thin things get caught and the train starts moving. (give the thing a tug and the train will stop). As regulars will know, this operates frequently when people inside the train catch things in the doors as they close.

    I well remember a sustained Victoria line campaign in the early ’90s to change customer behaviour re holding doors , that did have some success, but was a little hampered by reliability that was poor by today’s Victoria lie standards

  590. ngh says:

    Re Second Anonymous,

    I suspect we need a poster and announcements campaign on the station – something to fill the time of the escalator down? I’m surprised there hasn’t been anything so far or maybe they are waiting till 36tph goes live.

    “is that is not how the passenger mind thinks” It is when I’m the passenger! and also very visible in lots of other passengers too as PoP has also noticed.

    Re PoP,

    I did quick double check on frequency earlier but picked an interesting spot there the frequency was 18 trains per half hour, checking again now the frequency in the next half hour was just 16 trains per half hour – and there are obvious places where the timings will be tightened up to get the 2 extras in the 2nd half hour. The services aren’t uniformly distributed at the average tph at the moment.

  591. ngh,

    picked an interesting spot there the frequency was 18 trains per half hour

    It doesn’t matter which spot you pick! The frequency along the line will be identical.

    Perhaps a better way of putting this is:

    At 36tph every second’s delay (that cannot be recovered) amounts to a frequency reduction of 0.01tph. So a 12.5 second unrecoverable delay amounts to a capacity reduction of one carriage per hour.

    The other point that needs to forceably got through to passengers is you don’t just delay that train. You effectively delay every train on the entire line.

  592. timbeau says:

    “It doesn’t matter which spot you pick! The frequency along the line will be identical.”
    I think ngh meant an interesting point in time rather than in space!

    “the drivers need to try to close the doors to run to timetable not when ALL the passengers have boarded.”
    Indeed, but @anon
    “It was at least a minute before the last passenger got off the carriage I was waiting to board. As that happened I had just put my foot in the door when the doors begin to shut. ”
    …………..implies that no passengers had had time to board. Carting trainfuls of air around, even at 36tph, achieves nothing, but leads to the platforms getting ever more dangerously overcrowded.

  593. A-mous says:

    Ian Prosser (Director of Rail Safety at the ORR) has written to Louise Ellman re DOO:

  594. ngh says:

    Re timbeau,

    “I think ngh meant an interesting point in time rather than in space!”

    Correct! The current Vic line timetable seems not to be a constant frequency /interval but variable between 34 and 36tph within calculation error limits. The higher 36tph part of the frequency “wave” effectively running south from Kings Cross at 0800-0830 with the lower frequency between 0830 and 0900 with longer intervals between services presumably to allow for a bit of recovery in the interim till 2017 before the intervals are reduced when the extra 1.72 services get squeezed into the lower frequency part of the wave.

    The average interval in the first half hour can’t be longer than 103.3s after accounting for rounding issues (due to chopping an hour in two and which choice of 30mins etc.) but the central estimate for average interval is 100s and the average interval in the 2nd half hour being 112.5s. Frequency is definitely not uniform which means position along the line matters too!

    “….implies that no passengers had had time to board. Carting trainfuls of air around, even at 36tph, achieves nothing, but leads to the platforms getting ever more dangerously overcrowded.”

    Correct but it is a side effect of high frequencies at stations where lots of passengers get off especially big interchanges. [Not unexpected either discussed on LR over 4 years ago.] The interesting feedback loop will come at next year (if it hasn’t already) to see if they can “transfer” some of the Warren Street dwell time to Kings Cross or Oxford Circus. Also why the Bond Street Crossrail Station at the Eastern end isn’t connected to Oxford Circus!
    Also see NTfL spec with only double doors and PEDs.

  595. Malcolm says:

    timbeau: Ah, but you won’t be carting many trainfuls of air, because if certain stations become effectively set-down only, then people will be able to get on at subsequent ones, where the trains have become less full.

    However, you are right that there will be nasty consequences if passengers cannot board, including overcrowding, frustration and so forth. Things will get even worse if passengers cannot alight at their desired station because all the stop time has been used up by other passengers alighting.

    Of course, the best passenger throughput is achieved if approximately the same number of passengers wish to get off at each of the central stations, rather than most Vic line passengers needing Victoria, for example. But this is tricky – people wish to go wherever they wish to go.

  596. Anon E. Mouse says:

    Timbeau has hit the nail on the head. If a train has reached its alloted dwell time at a station but no-one has managed to board it, it can’t just leave immediately otherwise the next train will find itself with twice as many passengers trying to board, compounding the issue with a probable end result of a temporary station closure as there are too many people on the platforms.

    That said, this situation might be mitigated by passengers actually following the advice of “use all available doors”. What Anonymous @ 1.02 didn’t tell us was if any of the other carriages had finished disgorging their passengers before the one they were trying to board. (N.B. I’m not trying to cast any aspersions on Anonymous.)

  597. timbeau says:

    Would you reduce dwell times if trains, like buses, had specific doors allocated for entry and for exit? Or would it make matters worse?

    I have noticed that canny passengers at main line termini tend to gravitate to the doors of each carriage further from the barrier, realising that most passengers travelling on the incoming train in the section of the car between the doors tend to go to the other one, which therefore takes longer to clear.

  598. timbeau says:

    @Anon E Mouse
    “What Anonymous @ 1.02 didn’t tell us was if any of the other carriages had finished disgorging their passengers before the one they were trying to board.”

    It may be so, but inevitably if fewer people got off that carriage, fewer people would have been able to get on. People waiting for a busy train will always gather nearest the exits to the platform (nb not the entrances unless they are one and the same) because that is where most people will be alighting from the train, and therefore where there will be most space coming available.

    We frequently get lectures about “using all the doors” from guards on our line who don’t seem to realise this. If the train always arrives with all eight coaches rammed, and a large number of people always alight from the third coach, (being nearest he exit) of course everyone waiting for the train will wait at that part of the platform. There is no point waiting anywhere else – you won’t be able to get on the train if you do.

    So the way to reduce dwell time is to increase the number of exits from the platform.

  599. ngh says:

    Re timbeau,

    As mentioned above the door size and spacing layout issues are being addressed with New Tube for London for Picc /Central /Bakerloo and W&C what you suggest would make things worse unless you had the Spanish solution used on the DLR at Tower Gateway (2 platforms 1 entry, 1 exit which is ignored in the am peak with both exit!).

    The fundamental issue is with existing tube stock is the bogie (wheels) protruding above the floor limiting where the seats and doors have to go as well as door leaf widths on older units (Pre Vic). A quick improvement on existing trains might be to remove the seats between in the centre of the cars between the double doors.

    Re Anon E. Mouse,

    “If a train has reached its alloted dwell time at a station but no-one has managed to board it, it can’t just leave immediately”
    In the spirit of the panto season “Oh yes it can!” It just causes problems but overall there is more benefit to passenger overall by running at a higher frequency. Passengers just learn to avoid those stations, I suspect this is one reason we have seen more Oxford Circus closures in the last couple of years (excluding Crossrail side effects). If you are more than 350m away you are better off using Green Park or Warren Street anyway so just a slightly longer walk to one of the other stations? It might also reduce TfL’s hated change then 1 stop journeys that really eat overall capacity.

  600. Anon E. Mouse says:

    Speaking of NTfL, one thing that just occurred to me is that it will be interesting to see what happens on the Piccadilly line when it is upgraded. Specifically, how passengers distribute themselves along the trains and platforms when they are presented with fully walk-through trains which, however, cannot wait for too long at any station without holding up the service.

  601. 100andthirty says:

    Anon E. Mouse. Look no further than S stock. The original brief for the New Tube for London train started with “how can features of S stock be squeezed into tube gauge”.

    What you will find – as per all wide open gangway trains and trams I’ve seen – is that the gangways come into their own in the off – peak or peak shoulders. In the height of the peak it’s generally too crowded for people to spread.

    ngh, PoP. timetabled headways and dwells MUST be set to allow everyone who wants to get off the train to do so. If not, passenger alarms will be used. Also, even if most of the dwell is used up with people getting off, it’s no good letting the train go until (approximately) as many have boarded as are arriving from the street/other lines onto the platform. otherwise the platform will gradually overflow, hampering further people getting off.

    Victoria line signalling was specifically optimised to allow longer dwells as the stations forecast to be the most crowded (eg Victoria NB). It’s possible that growth has led to a mismatch between reality and forecasts and that further optimisation is needed (a limitation of a fixed block system compared with moving block).

  602. Philip says:

    Also, “if you can’t get on or off the train in our scheduled dwell time, TOUGH LUCK!” has some pretty horrible implications for elderly and disabled people.

  603. Anon E. Mouse says:

    I think I neglected the S stock because I was trying to think of a situation comparable to the Victoria line, hence why I considered a tube line instead of a sub-surface one. Of course, the SSL could (when the upgrade is finally finished) have slightly longer allotted dwell times (at least at certain key stations) than the Victoria due to the slightly lower maximum frequency of 32tph. That said, because of the plethora of flat junctions the trains have to negotiate, even the slightest delay will not be tolerated because of how much of a knock-on effect there would be.

  604. Greg Tingey says:

    Anon E M
    That said, this situation might be mitigated by passengers actually following the advice of “use all available doors”.
    Err … NO
    Usually the platform – as well as the train – is rammed anyway & secondly, you can only use the door nearest to you.
    [ Akin to the “Take all your personal belonging with you” as an utterly impossible request, actually ]

  605. Weary Driver says:

    A-mous. Was amused to see Ian Prosser’s rather perfunctory letter. Presumably then the risk assessment was happy with large patches of shadows on monitors caused by sunlight, blurred pictures caused by rain drops, fuzzy pictures caused by inadequate lighting, passengers standing in the dispatch corridor in large numbers and so on. So presumably they will be happy to sign something now to exonerate any driver found to have caused injuries or deaths during the dispatch process as a result of these phenomena affecting his view?

  606. timbeau says:

    ““if you can’t get on or off the train in our scheduled dwell time, TOUGH LUCK!” ”

    Is that any different from the habits of certain TOCs in running empty trains past packed platforms in order to get the trains back on schedule?

  607. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ 100&30 – thank goodness for common sense. It’s ludicrous for people to be suggesting it’s OK not to have people boarding tube trains because the dwell time’s been used up by those alighting. As you say all you get is unmanageable stations (although we’ve long had those and they must be vastly worse now). It’s clear to me from the description that we are seeing the impact of ongoing passenger growth and the manifestation of what I have long feared – station platforms and connecting corridors completely unable to cope with the numbers travelling. Yes it’s lovely to have mega frequent trains but their value will be rendered to nought if stations are routinely closed / jammed solid with people. Time for LU to start adjusting its investment strategy – oh hang on, there’s no money!

    Thankfully I never see the peak on the tube these days but the off peak on the Vic Line can be horrible enough. I don’t run for trains anymore at the E17 end of the line as they’re every 2 mins. When they were every 5 mins (a luxury I know compared to many NR services) I would run and I would throw myself through closing doors. The problem then was that the service could be a bit ropey and unpredictable. I certainly think that a short term measure should be customer comms / advertising. This has been routinely used for high risk events affecting passengers directly. However that has to run alongside the optimised service level and dwell times too.

  608. Paul says:

    In Ian Prosser’s letter, last but one paragraph, is the word NOT missing somewhere?

  609. Greg Tingey says:

    station platforms and connecting corridors completely unable to cope with the numbers travelling.
    Yes – I try, if at all possible, to avoid Holborn on the Picc – for exactly that reason.
    And Highbury & Islington, exiting from the Vic/GN&C can easily back up at the base of the escalators.
    It only wants someone to trip & fall, with another trainload behind for something really unpleasant to happen.

  610. ngh says:

    Re WW and 130,

    I’m some what playing devils advocate but the choice for higher frequency has been made and is being implemented with reduced dwell times now the consequence as enhanced braking rates already introduced to get the previous increase in frequency (1.15 to 1.3ms^-2) on the Vic. The other realistic option is to be very un-british and go “Moscow” but hopefully with tapered acceleration/deceleration rates when changes from constant speed occur (e.g. no spikes in ms^-3) which should be possible with the software.

    In transport select committee on Monday discussing safe capacity of the (full sized heavy) railways at the time:

    Mick Whelan (ASLEF) while arguing for passenger limits and Ped flow improvements on platforms but not limits on trains:
    “Once you have reached the Tokyo point and no body else can squeeze on, you can’t get any more on, then it is just about whether you can close the doors or not.”

    e.g. on train capacity self regulates at the upper limit.
    TOCs, TfL, DfT and ASLEF agreeing on something what ever next? RMT sat further along probably hoping to sign up any new white glove operatives required as members.

    With those crowding levels you don’t have to worry about of rate change of acceleration!

  611. Pedantic of Purley says:

    so: velocity is rate of change of distance
    acceleration is rate of change of velocity
    and now you are talking about the rate of change of acceleration!

    When will this stop (pun not intended)?

    Surely it is the rate of change of velocity (acceleration) that humans feel? Do we really need to consider further derivatives?

    (Questions not statement of facts)

  612. ngh says:

    Re PoP,

    “When will this stop (pun not intended)?”

    Gently hopefully!

    Minimising rate of change of acceleration (ms^-3) reduces the standees “falling over” issues. You only need to worry about it for couple of seconds to solve all issues.
    You don’t tend to feel constant acceleration you tend to feel changes in rate of acceleration far more.

  613. Malcolm says:

    PoP – yes, the move to the third derivative sounds abstruse, but it is not really. It’s sometimes called “jerk”. The relevance, particularly if you are standing, is that the position (of your head, say) relative to the train has to be adjusted proportionately to the train’s acceleration, to avoid falling over. So if your position (or standing angle) is proportional to the train’s acceleration, then the rate of change of this (the speed with which you must adjust your muscles) will be proportional to the train’s jerk. Jerk is highest, in a road vehicle, when the driver stamps on the brakes, and the result can sometimes be domino-like collapse of all standing passengers. Less spectacularly, it can be addressed in some suitable differential equations.

  614. Malcolm says:

    You can also use the equivalence of steady acceleration to a “gravitational” force trying to push you over (as made famous by a certain fuzzy-haired genius). If you want instead to use an ordinary shove to push someone over, you will be more successful if you apply it suddenly. If you start shoving gradually, the victim has time to lean into the shove.

    Well, I think that’s helpful, anyway.

  615. Reynolds 953 says:

    @Malcolm – perhaps another way of explaining it would be using Newton’s second law of Force = mass x acceleration therefore constant acceleration means the body is subject to constant force. A change in acceleration means a change in force hence the jerk or push you refer to.

  616. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    Hmmm…. In all that chat about overcrowded platforms, I wonder how useful someone on the platform actually in those circumstances is unless they are about 2.2m tall, so they can actually see?

    Perhaps cameras mounted well above average head height would be better….

  617. Jim elson says:

    Island dweller asked me why TOC’s were able to introduce DOO if my statement that ASLEF has run the railway since the sixties is correct. Of course most DOO came in under BR. Southern has hit ASLEF opposition because it is the first attempt at more DOO since an ASLEF annual conference voted to overthrow DOO everywhere on Britain’s railways. Before that resolution a couple of years ago, ASLEF accepted it for the extra money. Southern commuters are unlucky because their DOO expansion came after the union resolution. It would be interesting to know if C2C’s long planned DOO with 12 car class 387s has also been blacked. I guess it has,but hope it has not. I am told ASLEF on SWT blacked the new up slow loop from Southampton airport into Eastleigh platform because they demanded drivers have a whole day to learn the route,which is parallel and fully visible from the main up line,& has one new signal & a banner repeater. Freightliner gave in to their drivers one day demand & their trains now use the third of a mile track. I believe SWT drivers settled for 4 hours overtime to read the track plan. Does deciding whether new lines will be used or not, count as running the railways?

  618. Malcolm says:

    Jim elson: Describing the apparently obstructive union behaviour which you report as “running the railway” is a more emotive way of putting it than is preferred here. We discourage such expressions. Reporting such things, so long as it is accurate (as I trust this one is) and relates to the issue under discussion (as this one does) is OK. But we would prefer dispassionate and diplomatic language, rather than the tabloid variety. The same, of course, goes for any reporting of management actions or omissions. Also for any politician’s actions or omissions.

  619. Graham H says:

    I have already remarked that jim elson’s comment about the sixties has no basis in fact. What is more important, is for commentators to understand that privatisation changed the balance of power between employers and unions in the rail industry. The TOCs have no depth of resources to enable them to ride out industrial action because they are merely cash flow management machines. Calling parent company guarantees or breaking bankers’ ratios are default events. The unions are not stupid; they know this. The most plausible estimates are that a typical TOC couldn’t withstand the loss of cash income for more than about 8-12 weeks. For TOC owners, the game is not worth the candle (especially given the cross-default provisions in franchises these days).

  620. Greg Tingey says:

    Jim Elson is also in error in persistently referring to ASLEF as the putatively “guilty” party.
    AIUI ( & IRRC too ), the union most against “DOO” is the RMT, is it not?

    [ Acronyms “R” us! ]

  621. Graham H says:

    @Greg T -indeed, ASLEF – the most wily of the railway unions – realised the point I made about TOCs having no financial depth even before privatisation was complete and concentrated their efforts on getting the best possible deals for their members. (One of their successes that had my Chairman particularly spluttering with rage was to be paid (again, in certain cases) for productivity improvements already delivered. The net effect of this “go with the flow” attitude has been that drivers’ pay has tended to pull away from that of other staff – that seems to me to be a distinct win on ASLEF’s part)

  622. Graham H,

    At least ASLEF give (or used to give) you the option of paying up for productivity gains. The RMT take more of a, shall we say, Gaullist attitude.

    Old joke (adapted): The difference between the RMT and a terrorist is that you might be able to negotiate with a terrorist. For even-handed reporting I would point out that the RMT would probably have the same joke but with RMT replaced by Southern management.

  623. MikeP says:

    @jim elson – at the risk of taking comments where they shouldn’t go…

    Does deciding whether new lines will be used or not, count as running the railways?

    Does accepting management’s view of how much training is required for a new route absolve an individual driver of responsibility under H&S legislation should an incident occur that is shown to be due to inadequate route knowledge ?

    Answer – no. So, it’s arguable that current H&S legislation that deliberately and with good reason shares H&S responsibilities between employees and employers does mean that drivers are, to an extent, “running the railway”. Absent any comment about unions.

  624. Graham H says:

    @PoP – 🙂 I leave it to others to say whether negotiation leading to higher pay is better than a refusal to negotiate in the hope that management will go away.

  625. KitGreen says:

    Graham H 10:05

    As we are in pay territory perhaps someone has handy figures to show whether typical TOC senior (corporate?) managers pay has also tended to pull away from that of other staff, including drivers?

  626. ngh says:

    Minor changes to route learning entertainment:

    GTR/Southern got grief from ASLEF on this in the run up to the Jan 2015 changes @ London Bridge where ASLEF wouldn’t agree to 2 days overtime for new route learning (much of which was actually watching a cab-view simulation DVD) but insisted on doing in during normal time instead as watching DVD was a “novel form of training”.

    And GTR/Southern ended up cancelling loads of services to lose all the drivers for 2 days.

    I suspect there would be ASLEF strikes if GTR and not DfT were in control of the purse strings!

    Re PoP,

    “Old joke (adapted): The difference between the RMT and a terrorist is that you might be able to negotiate with a terrorist.”

    The origin is very true – Dad certainly found it easier to negotiate with all the “freedom fighters” he dealt with over the years compared to certain Governments and Dictators.

  627. Weary Driver says:

    nigh, there are clearly practical aspects of route learning and rostering that you don’t understand.

    Route learning requires a brief on the route, ideally then a guided trip over it, then multiple trips in day and night conditions to observe and absorb, followed by instructed driving and a route assessment. The driver HAS to be happy with his knowledge of the route because it is vital to know every detail.

    On established lines ie most of them, this is straightforward (assuming the TOC is not so understaffed that those to brief, instruct and assess cannot be found). Most of the task is taken up with the learner doing cab rides.

    However the South Central layout at London Bridge that commenced in 2015 was completely new. No driver saw it for real until the day that service trains were running on it. Furthermore it was totally different to the one that existing drivers already knew – there were more signals, reversible lines, different platform lengths, new technology, a different junction layout, etc etc, it was like learning a totally new route from scratch. It was not as you say, a “minor” change. It was ripping it up and starting again.

    A CGI simulation of the layout was created to cover all the trips that drivers would ordinarily have done over a physical route – to and from London Bridge via the fast lines, slow lines, south London lines etc – because it would not be possible for drivers to do those trips in advance of it opening. The brief and assessment was done by instructors who had already done this training and were on hand to answer questions and explain points as necessary. I hate to make assumptions but I presume you’ve never had to drive a train over a complex layout with a heavy potential for wrong routing, SPADs or gapping. I can assure you the training as it occurred was most definitely needed and was the best way to go about it. This was not something that could easily be done in isolation at home using paper materials or watching the simulation by yourself. This was not taking a day out to “watch a DVD” as you imply.

    Furthermore, the railway does not operate on a Mon-Fri 9-5 basis. We can’t just organise a training day knowing that everyone will be present on pretty much any given day. There is always a proportion on rest day; there is always a proportion on different shifts – early, middle, late, night etc. Each driver diagram is unique and will be booking on and off at different times – the first early may be at 02:00 and the last may be at 11:00, just before the first late at 12:00 etc. It is a logistical nightmare trying to break these diagrams up to allow everyone to attend a training session that is held between 09:00 and 15:00 for example – there is no concept of a “half day” as there would be in an office where you could do half the attendees 0900-1200 then half 1200-1500 due to the irregularities of the shift patterns and the fact that multiple drivers cover different sections of some trains in a complex jigsaw. Also, you have to be aware of the Hidden Rules – you have to ensure that you are not bringing in a driver who has not had 12 hours gap since booking off or will not cause another to not get a 12 hour gap before his next shift. The simplest way to do it is to cancel those diagrams for that day, whatever the short term pain. You cannot rely on overtime to achieve this when drivers may already be working a 7 day week or shattered from doing nights, getting up at 0300/coming home at 0300 etc – it is neither fair, practical or safe. I’ve done plenty of unpaid and paid overtime in previous 9-5 jobs, and it is a totally different ball game on the railway. The body clock is regularly screwed, and good pay will never replace the lost time that goes with that.

    This is not some bit of union militancy, this is a necessary and sensible way of doing things.

    Route learning has got more procedural and rigorous over the years and with good reason (remember Ladbroke Grove). But I suggest you watch the British Transport film “Operation London Bridge” where you will see footage of 1970s drivers learning the previous layout using a projected film in a classroom. All we have done is update that process.

  628. Weary Driver says:

    Recent trip of mine that is supposed to be going DOO – at every stop on the route at least one camera picture was rendered unuseable by low sunlight shining straight into the camera, resulting in a milky grey opaqueness instead of a picture of the doors. Or bouncing off wet platforms and even the side of the train setting up a kaleidoscope of shadows that did not allow clear sight of that coach. I’m quite happy to close each door at a time manually but I dread to think what this is going to do to the morning peak. No sign of this problem being remedied. Not undermining the principle of DOO but certainly its current implementation and further extension as things stand.

  629. Alan Griffiths says:

    Weary Driver @ 2 December 2016 at 19:46

    Good points, well made.

    I’ve never driven anything bigger than a minibus.

  630. Purley Dweller says:

    If the cameras are anything like the reversing camera on my car then I can see problems coming. The wrong sort of splash on the lens renders it useless. At least I have the advantage of having a rear view mirror too!

    I’m getting so sick of the dispute now. For the good of the long serving customers there needs to be an end to it. The company could end it now and I think it is they that should end it as they have the “contract” with the passengers that they are failing g to honour on a daily basis. Until they have sufficient staff to run the service without overtime they cannot deliver their side of the contract while winding up the drivers. The whole sorry saga of sabre rattling from both sides has led to a company no one in their right mind would want to work for. I can’t imagine being in the senior team is much fun either. I have had an email apologising today. But they aren’t really sorry. If they were they would have settled.

  631. Londoner in Scotland says:

    There is an open letter from the Secretary of State for Transport to Southern commuters at in which he makes out that the Southern guard’s dispute is linked to the Thameslink programme. In particular: “As a result, older trains are being phased out and replaced with a newer fleet which will include some of Britain’s most state of the art, automated trains. For a long time the majority of the trains on this network have been operated by the driver from the cab, normally without a guard on board. This hasn’t led to big drops in staff numbers – on the busier stations it has meant more staff on the platforms instead to help dispatch trains quicker. This is essential to trying to get a congested railway to run on time. As the new trains are introduced, so more of the older trains that depend on a guard are removed.”

    To the best of my knowledge the “older trains” (ie class 319) have always been DOO and the dispute is all about DOO on Southern services using (mainly) class 377 units, which are approaching mid-life. Which are “the older trains that depend on a guard” that the Sec of State thinks are being removed?

  632. Jim elson says:

    Possibly new Thameslink units with the latest cameras & monitors replacing older Southern first generation 377s with less good monitors/cameras on currently guarded East Grinstead & Horsham routes & non body side camera guarded South eastern units to Maidstone East. I think that makes sense.

  633. ngh says:

    Re Londoner in Scotland,

    A fair few bombshells in Grayling’s statement but to answer your question first.

    Grayling has over-summarised from typical LR readers point of view and a result most / all the detail and nuances have been lost and has managed to conflate guards and in cab monitors as well as stock cascades accorss the entire GTR franchsie area.

    For example:
    1. Take Southern’s London Bridge to Horsham /East Grinstead or Littlehampton currently operated by older 377s (with smaller monitor screens that were also guard operated on the more southerly parts of the services – they always had the DOO option on the more northerly part of the route) these will be operated by Thameslink with 700s transferring over starting from around Easter 2017. The intermediate stage was the removal of guards from the services while Southern still operated them e.g. East Grinstead – Croydon changing from needing a guard to DOO.

    2. As a result of the above and other transfers to Thameslink enough stock is released to all all 377 operation between Dorking and Horsham and to remove 455s from operating where they need a guard between Dorking and Horsham (ditto an 8 car 455 if it ever gets to Tatterham Corner from beyond Purley). Also enough cascaded 377s to eliminate the use of 442s with guards on the Eastbourne services.

    Elimination of non in cab monitor stock from GTR:
    319s Thameslink,
    313/1 Great Northern
    317 Great Northern
    321 Great Northern
    442 Southern / GatEx (partially Guard operated on some sections of the routes)

    Reduction of some classes of stock with no in cab monitors from GTR:
    365s Great Northern
    455s Southern (partially Guard operated on some sections of the routes)

    Reduction of some classes of stock with older small in cab monitors from GTR:
    377/1s (to Southeastern) (partially Guard operated on some sections of the routes)


    Passengers’ interests must come first and to resolve these issues we need all staff to come back to work.

    DfT isn’t going to allow GTR to cave in.

    In essence this is a battle between the unions and the management over whether they will allow new technologies and new ways of working on the railway. It is deeply deeply unfair on the passengers who are left in the middle of this dispute.

    My ministerial and official team and I have been working hard since we took over our jobs just under 5 months ago to try to find a way through this. But the unions appear to have little interest in resolving the dispute unless the management cave in totally to their demands. These are not just to stop the current modernisation process, but to start reversing 30 years of working practice changes right across the country.

    Battle over who runs the railways

    When I met the General Secretary of ASLEF soon after my appointment, with virtually his first breath he promised me “10 years of industrial action.” I have therefore believed it better to avoid direct ministerial involvement in negotiations during the autumn, as my involvement would make the issue even more political than it is.

    Probably best not to have told the SoS what the grand plan was to allow Dft to warm up the panzers

    the biggest factor behind this has been an ongoing and unofficial work to rule, with high levels of sickness, and a doubling of “broken down” trains whose faults cannot be replicated in the depot.

    GTR will now have a list of naughty drivers (as probably do TfL on the Piccadilly Line)

    Transport for London has no experience of running a complicated main line railway like this. Indeed it does not even run railways itself. The Overground is run by Arriva and it performs well as a simple network which is mainly self-contained and therefore there is less need to co-ordinate with other operators and services. When things go wrong it is much easier to recover quickly on the Overground, with less impact on passengers.

    Confirms the thinking in many places that big overgroundisation south of the river is a bridge to far for TfL especially as their record in playing fairly with other operators is not quite what it seems and big influence on the DfT no devolution decision.

    We will continue to do everything we can to resolve things, and are looking carefully at all options to do so.

    The SoS wants to go for the Ronnie Reagan airtraffic control solution on ASLEF

  634. Malcolm says:

    ngh: It is a bit unclear on reading your recent message which bits are quotes and which are your own thoughts. Could you confirm that in the second half of your message, the parts which show up as non-italic (e.g. “Transport for London has no experience of…”) are quotes from Chris Grayling’s open letter, and the bit which show as italics are your interpretation of what lies behind his words.

  635. Purley Dweller says:


    Tattenham corner runs without guards even on 8 car 455s. They just lock out the rear 4 coaches.

    I noticed this morning that Purley commuters seem to be the only beneficiaries of the dispute. Although the main line trains have been thinned, the joins in the cats and tats have been eliminated meaning more seats at Purley, particularly when the rear 4 coaches have been locked out of use and are unlocked on arrival.

  636. TJ says:

    @ Weary Driver

    Since the rule book has been changed and the Guard is now no longer in charge of the train, you the Driver are responsible…
    Then again when the driver had a kettle and Fireman to look after, a poor view of the line ahead, oil lit signals, and no headlamp to show the way, and a Guard to blame, they still complained!

    Too many Guards have been caught Ding, ding and away while the driver does not have the Road… My Station staff were warned that I would not tolerate them giving the right of way to the Guard when the signal was still on… but I have seen it happen too many times when off duty. I note that the notices warning drivers to check the signal before starting are still in position so it is still a problem.

    I travel through Clapham Junction on the Central section to Victoria and then Northwards on the tube on a regular basis and note the following,
    1. The LU train despatch staff at Victoria, stand far too close to the train and not in what I would describe a place of safety, I have seen one taller member of staff leaning over the train to give the right away! Not Safe!
    2. Clapham Junction, my I’m glad I don’t run that station, where should the staff stand to see the train out? how many staff would you need? and the crowds… I have watched the train despatch staff at work and I would not be happy if I was responsible for them. Hmm the way forward there safety wise would be to limit the number of passengers on the platform.
    3. East Croydon far too many passengers on the platform to be safe.
    4. Sutton, I like the bank of CCTV screens on Platform 4, but wonder how good a view of the whole train they give, but must be better than the above…

    I note that Passengers are demanding an affordable service, a reliable service, and the ability to be able to get into the carriage when the train stops… Safety seems to be a distant 4th place!

    Ex Station Foreman
    N.B. I was trained on the 1950’s BR rule book.

  637. ngh says:

    Re Malcolm,

    ” and the bit which show as italics are your interpretation of what lies behind his words.”

  638. IslandDweller says:

    “The overground is mainly self contained”?
    So I imagined those huge slow freight trains between Stratford and Camden? Or the Southern/Thameslink services on the track south of New Cross Gate?
    This SoS really takes “I don’t want my opinions tainted by facts” to a whole new level.

  639. Ian J says:

    @ngh quoting Grayling:

    [TFL] does not even run railways itself