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Much of what will be included here is touched upon to a greater or lesser extent elsewhere on this site, but I intend trying to bring the whole thing together here to give a more cohesive view of the topic of the Trainside organisation, so I hope you'll forgive me repeating myself and reusing some material from elsewhere.

I won't be going into much detail of the Train Operator and Instructor Operator's roles - these are certainly covered in depth but they need to be included to help give the 'big picture'. But including them here gives me an opportunity to explain a bit more about how the rotas, rosters and duties work and how the 'Pool' works - again I touch on some of this elsewhere but I want to try to give the whole picture.

For obvious reasons I'm going to use my own depot as the template here - but it's pretty typical. Some depots are bigger than others and some lines has fewer - the Piccadilly Line for example only has two but they are both very large in terms of the number of staff employed at each.

Train Depot Staff Structure

The following chart is also included in the District Line - Booking On Points section, but I'm reproducing it here rather than expecting you to flip backwards and forwards. Some of the text will also bear similarities, but I plan to go into more details as appropriate.

I'm going to look in reverse order from the chart, so I'm starting with the Train and Instructor Operators and working up the ladder to the Train Operations Manager.

Train and Instructor Operators

I'm certainly not going to start explaining again about the role and training of these two grades here - there's enough other content on this site covering this!

But I will go into a bit of detail as to how the rostering and rota systems work.

When a Train Operator first comes to a depot - whether he be a new Train Operator or a consequential transfer - he will initially go into the Pool, unless there are vacancies on the roster. So let's look in a bit more detail at the Pool and the Rostered staff - and the differences this makes.

The Pool

Pool drivers are 'outside' the roster, and their duties are allocated to them on a weekly basis. The working week is from Sunday to Saturday - T/Ops work five out of the seven days. Pool duties are allocated and published on the Thursday prior to the Sunday to which they relate, so if you're in the Pool you won't know what you'll be working until the previous Thursday, nor when your Rest Days will be.

An advantage of this is that as you're supposed to accept this it does mean that the Duty Manager preparing the duties (and these will comprise duties that are otherwise uncovered through annual leave, training days, sickness and so on) is usually open to requests from the Pool drivers if they would prefer particular rest days or early or late duties.

A disadvantage is that it makes trying to organise your life outside the job pretty difficult!

Most Pool drivers are just waiting for a vacancy on the Roster (of which more later), then at least they know what their duties will be for months in advance.

Vacancies on the roster arise when a driver leaves the depot, whether this be on resignation, transfer, promotion or whatever, so there is a constant turnover. The length of time a driver will remain in the Pool varies quite a bit. When I first joined the depot as a fully fledged driver I was in the Pool for only a couple of months - but some of our current drivers have been in it for much longer than this, some for the best part of a year I believe.

Rostered Drivers

The Rostered drivers have, as I say, the advantage of knowing for months ahead exactly what they are due to be working. Annual leave periods are rostered too so, again, you know exactly what leave you're due to have and when.

Of course many staff prefer working the same shift pattern all the time. Some depots have what's known as a 'Mafia'. This system is unofficial, but widely accepted within the organisation. Basically a member of staff 'hands over' his working week to the Mafia and, in return, his duties - along with those of many others - are redivided according to each individuals preferences, as far as possible. So the end result should be that everyone gets the turns, rest days etc. that they want. This system is fine providing there's an even balance of the members wanting the various turns. This is a reason why there's no Mafia at my depot - there is an imbalance of demand!

So, to try to redress this, a new system has recently been introduced as a trial at my depot and at Earls Court. They've introduced a number of separate links - earlies, lates and nights and - for those who either prefer it or are waiting to get onto one of the permanent links - a conventional 'mixed' link. Those who've got on one of the permanent links are now sorted out for their preferred working periods and that's fine, but there are still quite a large number of people who want permanent earlies, but not enough wanting permanent lates to enable the early link to be enlarged.

I think the idea of this is partly to do with the recent EU legislation associated with 'Family Friendly Working', though as the allocations to the various links seem to be based around depot seniority (i.e. how long someone has been at the depot) I'm not entirely convinced it addresses the issue.

But - personally - I am content with the mixed link anyway. Earlies and Late each have their own advantages and disadvantages as far as I'm concerned, so the mix is OK for me. I just cover my own turns, rarely looking for or giving away any particular turns or rest days. I have my own group of friends who all work on the same basis and if anyone needs a change for a particular reason we'll try to help each other out and will then return favours as needed. As much as anything, I suppose, it's a swings and roundabouts thing.

A final personal thought of mine though is that anyone who comes to work on London Underground knows that shift work is involved and, by implication, has therefore accepted the drawbacks that shift working has. Notwithstanding that though, I realise that an individual's personal circumstances can change and may need some adjustment to their working patterns.

But none of this prevents drivers from switching duties between themselves - be it lates for earlies (or vice versa) or rest days, or lates for lates or earlies for earlies if both parties want earlier or later starts and so on. It all sounds quite complicated but, in practice, works out quite well. Some people spend an incredible amount of time and effort sorting out their own changeovers to get duties that suit them.

Also as part of all the roster links there are periods of 'Leave Cover'. This is the only time that you don't know what you'll be working as you are allocated duties and rest days to provide, as the name suggests, cover for staff on rostered leave. In fact if there are more staff on Leave Covers than actually on leave, you can also end up covering training releases and other absences. But, even with these periods, an outline of Leave Cover duties is posted about four weeks in advance. This doesn't mean though that these duties are set in stone - they can be varied right up until the working week in question.

So that's a quick view of the Pool and Rostered working.

Next I'll look at the DMT's grade - the first step on the Managerial ladder.

Duty Manager (Trains)

Each depot has a number of DMT's and they fulfil a variety of functions. So, I'm going to look at their role in a wider context than simply with my home depot, as that would not be entirely representative of their working.

DMT's work shifts, and there is at least one on duty at all times at each depot.

The 'deskman' (or woman I hasten to add!) is responsible for booking the drivers on for duty, and part of their job is to consider if the driver appears fit to work.  He will also allocate the 'spares' with work which needs to be covered and, when there are problems with the service, he'll need to juggle his resources to keep the trains moving.

At a location such as Earls Court this is the biggest part of the DMT's job and there may be more than one 'deskman' on duty. Quick thinking and proactive action is needed to prevent the major disruptions that will occur if a train is sat in the platform with no relief driver for any length of time.

But this is only a part of their function. They are also responsible for the day-to-day running of the depots, carrying out such varied tasks as Return to Work interviews after a driver has been absent through illness, Performance and Development reviews where we have the chance to discuss our hopes and aspirations for the future, the allocation of duties to the pool and leave cover drivers and much more.

There are also DMT's who carry out the Road Tests of new drivers and the Competency Assurance reviews as I describe in Disjointed Jottings.  This in itself is a full time job for several DMT's - remember that we have over 500 drivers in all, and all must be reviewed twice a year!

There are also the 'Mobile' DMT's who will attend any type of incident from train failures and SPAD's to 'One Unders'.  They will also carry out any disciplinary interviews that may be necessary after an incident and, at night, will carry out a programme of track walks to help identify any problems related to the permanent way itself.

That is really only the briefest of ideas of their role, and if any DMT's reading this want to send me their own account of their job I hope they will do so!

Train Operations Manager

The TOM is the boss of the depot, and is, by definition, in charge and responsible for the whole of the depot and all its staff.  He, of course, has responsibility for achieving the highest level of performance possible, and this is measured in a wide variety of different ways.

A look at will reveal all sorts of performance measurements and it is the TOM's who very much work towards these targets and try to achieve the best possible performance from their staff.

He too gets involved in matters relating to the depot premises, parking facilities, the canteen, budgets and just about every other imaginable matter.

Again, a very brief description, but I hope it gives an idea of the diversity of the role.

Administration Staff

The Admin Staff contribute enormously to the smooth running of the depot. 

They deal with all sorts of domestic matters from the issue of passes to the maintenance of staff records and the periodic reissue of uniforms.

If you've got a query about just about anything, ask the Admin Staff - 99% of the time they'll know the answer straight away or if not will find it out.

I'm actually convinced that they are just as responsible for the smooth running of the depot as the rest of the team put together!

So that - very briefly - is how the train staff are organised.


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