Firstly I operate the 'Lamp Test' button. This does just that when pressed all the lights should illuminate, and the audible warning sounds.
Next is the Brake test. This is done using various combinations of the Safety Brake Feed switch and the buttons on the Brake Test panel. If all is as it should be, I can 'sign off' the train log. As I do this I also have a quick look to see if any past niggles have been recorded they can act as a warning that there may be some minor fault.
Now it's on to the left hand side. Are the 'Weak Field' and 'Coasting Control' switches set correctly?
Left hand side panel is the 'Heat and Vent' control cut in (it should be, irrespective of the weather, as it's thermostatically controlled), are the MA lights lit if they're not the MA's are either 'tripped' or the train is not drawing current. I operate the Passenger Alarm test to make sure that's sounding. Next I carry out a Traction Test this allows you to make sure that the trains' motors are delivering movement. Finally I operate the CSDE (Correct Side Door Enable) override and check that the doors on both sides of the train open and close correctly.
And finally I check the door panel on the back bulkhead and the MCB (Miniature Circuit Breaker) panel to make sure they're all set correctly.
And then you head off to the other end of the train to do it all again! On my walk through I have a look to make sure all the fire extinguishers are in place and correctly sealed and that the cars are generally fit for service.
So the checks are repeated. Additionally if the train is stabled on a shed road you must check to make sure the shed leads (which supply power to the end of the train that's 'off juice') have been removed. If they haven't and you move off serious damage will occur to your train, the leads, and other trains nearby and to the shed too! You will not be popular
So, back to the front of the train and wait for the depot shunter to call you down to leave the depot. While waiting I usually do a few bits like put my Hi-Vi back in my bag and prepare my mug to make a coffee at either Ealing Broadway or Acton Town, depending on which direction I'll be going. When he does you'll follow his instructions, depending on where in the depot you are, but in all cases you arrive at an outlet signal. This is a shunt signal which also confirms the 'route' that's been set for you and is operated from the Signal Centre at Earls Court (for Ealing Common Depot). When the signal operator is ready for you to depart the signal clears and away you go. At this point the train radio automatically switches from the depot channel to the Line channel.
So finally you're in service! All that seems pretty complex and it all happens in less than half an hour! In fact, if you develop a routine (and what I've described is mine each driver has his own variations) it can all be done with time to spare.
This is reasonably self-explanatory, and the side of the duty that the travelling public see.
But there are a number of things that, I suppose, passengers either just take for granted or are not aware of.
The obvious one's are being watchful at stations allowing enough time for passengers to safely board or leave the train, whilst keeping the 'dwell time' down to a minimum. At stations where passengers can cross the platform from one train to another (like at Acton Town, Hammersmith, Barons Court and Earls Court and these are just a few) we should try to watch for trains arriving on the adjacent platform, so that they can change trains. This isn't always easy. At some places you have a very restricted view of the adjacent platform and it's easy to miss a train pulling in. I know that sounds odd, but it's true! Most of the time you focus on the mirrors or monitors and they do not give a view across the platform, and if the platform has a curve (such as at Acton Town) this makes the situation even worse.
You have to watch your route. That may sound obvious, but it's easy for a signal operator to give you a wrong route (particularly at somewhere like Earls Court where the options are many!), so you need to be vigilant to look for these errors. If you're not you can end up going the wrong way and that displeases many (and not just passengers!).
You have to watch signals. That may sound obvious, but it's true! Through the central area (between Gloucester Road and Tower Hill) there's a train about every two and a half minutes. If the train ahead is late for any reason there is very little space between you, so you must expect the next signal to be red. If you don't (or your attention wanders) a SPAD is the likely outcome
. I once had a driver from one of the TOC's in my cab and he was amazed not only at the number of signals that we have but also how often you see the tail lights of the train ahead!
You should do appropriate Public Address announcements, not only at stations but also if you're 'held' between stations for more than two minutes you should keep the passengers informed.
And a few other things listening out for radio calls, looking for persons about the track, watching out for any hazards, temporary speed restrictions and many more. Perhaps the odd signal failure or other service disruption can creep into the equation as well!
So in the example of this duty you have to keep up this level of concentration for about three and a half hours, and that's only the 'first half'!
So that's an early turn.
These are really pretty much the reverse of the above, in that you will 'pick up' trains in service and, often, end the day by stabling the train back into the depot.
The following is fairly typical for a 'Dead Late'. As can be seen the duty starts at 1701 and finishes at 0113 the next morning, involves running two trains around and finishing the day by stabling the train back into Ealing Common Depot.