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What a Day!

What a Day!

Whilst I was away from my depot for a couple of months, no opportunities arose to add anything to this section, but my good friend and colleague Alan Lee was kind enough to send me an email of one of the worst possible days that can happen to a driver.

I remember seeing on the London Underground website, and hearing on the local news, that we'd suffered a pretty catastrophic signalling problem around South Kensington first thing in the morning, and it seems that things went from bad to worse.

I'm just reproducing Alan's email to me, though there may be a few comments of mine should clarification be needed!, as Alan's got a writing style all of his own........

"Hi mate,

Here's a submission for your diary section! What a day I had yesterday (22nd Nov)!

It started out by checking the LU website about an hour before I went to work, as I always do to see what's likely to be happening. That's when I knew I should have phoned in sick!! The site was reporting "severe delays" and "avoid if possible" after an earlier multiple signal failure in the South Kensington area.

I was the 1557 spare, and was given 350 (full duty) as soon as I walked in. I made my way to Earl's Court, and into the canteen. As I was having my meal, one of the SA's came in and told me that there was a fire alert at Westminster, and the line was now suspended from Earl's Court to Whitechapel in both directions! This on top of all the earlier problems, which were still causing major delays anyway!

After my lunch, I went downstairs to report to the DMT and was eventually given a train to reform into mine. I was supposed to go from ECT -> WDN -> THL -> WDN -> BKG. I actually went from ECT -> RMD -> BKG!

The time I departed Richmond was the time I was supposed to be departing Wimbledon the second time!

As I approached Ravenscourt Park heading east, I was starting to come up against red signals, however we weren't delayed by a huge amount, and I was relieved at Barking only fifteen minutes late, which wasn't bad considering what was happening elsewhere on the line!

After my break at Barking, I picked up my next train, and was supposed to go to Wimbledon -> Tower Hill -> Ealing -> depot. A nice, uneventful trip as far as Blackfriars... The signal stayed red... and stayed red... I contacted the controller who told me that on top of everything else, they now had a multiple failure approaching High Street Ken, and they also had major crew-relief problems at ECT!

Apparently trains were blocking back all the way to Blackfriars on the west, and to Stamford Brook and Putney Bridge on the east!

By the time I reached Earl's Court, I should have been halfway back from Wimbledon! But on I went, having a clear road all the way to Wimbledon, but passing trains held in every section right the way from Wimbledon to Earl's Court!

I was held outside of Wimbledon for a short while, eventually being given platform 4. The other three platforms were already full. I had a quick PNR (Toilet break!) and then returned to the other end of my train and plunged... (This is a process that advises the signaller you're ready to depart) This actually turned out to be a pointless excercise because the other three trains had also plunged! I sat in the platform for about fifteen minutes while the other trains moved off and new ones arrived. Eventually I got a yellow signal, so departed, well over an hour late.

Unfortunately, the blocking back into ECT had now become even more serious with no crews to take over trains, crews at the end of their hours and of course the signal failure approaching High Street! I got held at every signal from Wimbledon all the way to Earl's Court... The actual journey time from Wimbledon to ECT was 70 MINS!!! That's my new record! It's never taken me that long to make a 20 minute journey before, at least not on the Wimbledon road!

The controller informed me to reverse ECT yard, so the SA's tipped me out, and I went up to the yard. As soon as I opened the J door to change ends, I was greeted with a car literally covered in vomit! It was everywhere! If that all came from one person, I would reccomend they see their doctor urgently! I rang the controller to inform him I'd now be running empty, to be greeted with the reply "Suit yourself driver, we don't know where anyone is or what anyone's doing! And we're past caring!".

In fairness to the signaller, s/he gave me a clear run all the way into Ealing Broadway, even holding a Picc train on Acton bank to allow me to pass first! Then on arriving in platform 9 at Ealing, the starter cleared immediately, and I got straight out, again a Picc train being held at Hangar Lane for me to get priority! Not often that happens!!

I stabled late, but was still in time to catch the last Picc train of the day home! Just!

Don't know if that story is any good for your diary page of the website, but I thought you'd like to read it anyway!

Let's see what tomorrow brings...!"

There are times when one's grateful to have missed such events....................

(Story added 4 January 2005)


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