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A Driver's Diary

Notes From a Train Operator's Notebook

A bit of background.

In the course of his duties, every Train Operator keeps a Notebook in which he records events that occur during a duty. There is no hard or fast rule for what is recorded, although some events (such as where it has been necessary to carry out a particular procedure for example) are prescribed under London Underground's Operating Procedures.

I'm sure that every Train Operator has his own routine; some note very little some write a great deal.

I think I probably fall somewhere in the middle. I work on a two page format on the right hand side I note such mundane details as the date, duty number, book on and off times (and the book on location to make sure I report to the right place!) and the bare bones of the duty train number, pick up time, booked reversing points and times and time and place I expect to be relieved.

The left hand page I leave blank and use this to record events which have caused me to be late, diverted and so on. These are noted in a factual way, but there is often a story behind these and, occasionally have an amusing and (I hope) interesting tale behind them.

So, from time to time, I'm going to relate the circumstances behind some of these jottings which, I hope, may explain to the travelling public why they may suddenly find their train diverted, turned early, cancelled, not turned up at all, unduly delayed and so on. I hope too that you'll find them amusing (where appropriate!) but informative as well!

Firstly, I'd like to dispel a myth which I'm sure is shared by many members of the public. To the best of knowledge no member of London Underground's operating staff deliberately sets out to cause delays and create situations that may inconvenience you! There are a few who will do what they can to get trains turned early (because they don't want to finish late after all no one likes finishing work late, especially if you've been up since 3.30 a.m. or aren't due to finish until 1.30 a.m.) but quite often it is us that are told to divert or turn short of our booked destination. Occasionally a driver will request a diversion, but usually because he can see that he is not going to be able to do his full trip without exceeding his permitted hours. If this happens he has no choice but to stable his train at the first available place.

Rather than put actual dates and times, although in many cases it won't be hard to identify the dates on which they arose, I'm going to give the occurrences a name.

I hope you enjoy the jottings, and that it helps you understand some of the occurrences that frustrate you in your travels.

I do try to write these stories up as soon as possible after they've occurred whilst they're still fresh in my mind and they're obviously written from my personal experiences and interpretation of events.  However I will try to correct any inaccuracies by means of post scripts to the relevant pages once I find out any more detail.

A request I've received from a reader is that I put a date to the pages that I add, so that you'll have an idea of when the incidents that gave rise to these stories occurred, and this I'll now be doing in the future.

You can navigate this section either from the buttons to the left or by using the table below.

Pages in this Section

Iced Train

Football Special!

Power Down at West Ham

Jubilee Celebrations

Flash Floods

A Normal Day?

Signal Failures

Stalled Train

Passing Signals at Danger

Disjointed Jottings

'One Unders'

Trespasser about the Track

Power Cut!

Handle Down

318 Duty

One of Those Nights

Rugby Final!

Stalled Train at High Street

Adverse Weather

A Tale of Ice!

Late Surrender

Multiple Failures

St. Patrick's Day

Delays on the 'Met'

Confession Time!

'Avoid Jargon'

'Picc' Derailment

Broken Rail

What a Day!

Christmas Week 2004


Special Working



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