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Tubeprune is an unofficial web site for professional railway people working for London Underground and for those interested in the London Underground railway system.  To the Tubeprune Home Page


Archive

This page is used to store out of date stories and other data for reference or historical purposes.

Contents

7/7 - The Central Line Again - HMRI to Prosecute Over Chancery Lane? - Northern Line Disorganisation - Derailments - Central Line Saturday Service Restoration - Central Line Accident Report - Central Line Derailment News - Wooden Current Rail - Chancery Lane - RI Report - Kicking LU - Eyesore - More Grafitti Recently - Pay Rise for Drivers - PA - New Northern Line Timetable - Plarstow or Plaistow? - Rough Ride? - RecruitmentDaylight Lighting - A bad week - Mr Robert Kiley - Dwell Time Management - Today on the Underground - US SA? - PPP Confusion - Strike News 


Update on 7/7 Attack for 09/08/05:

The Circle Line began a 20 minute service on Friday 5th August 2005 but did not operate on Saturday 6th August or Sunday 7th August. An all-day service began on Monday 8th August but there have been some cancellations due to stock shortages and staff sickness. We wish all those hard working and dedicated people, affected by the trauma of the events of 7th July, a speedy recovery.

Update on 7/7 Attack for 04/08/05:

The Piccadilly Line has been restored to all destinations today Thursday.

Update on 7/7 Attack for 02/08/05:

The Hammersmith & City service will be restored to normal operation between Hammersmith and Barking today, Tuesday 2 August 2005. The Circle service is still suspended, largely, it seems, due to stock and staff shortages.

There are some suggestions that the Piccadilly Line will re-open on Thursday. This must be regarded as ambitious but it shows London Underground is really trying to get things back to normal as quickly as possible.

Update on 7/7 Attack for 29/7/05:

Edgware Road station has re-opened. The District service between Edgware Road and Wimbledon is also restored today. The H&C service between Hammersmith and Baker St is suspended today and over the weekend due to previously planned engineering works to replace the bridge over the Central Line at White City. The peak-hour Barking to Baker Street service is still available at 15 minute intervals.

It is planned to restore the whole H&C and Circle service from next Tuesday but there might be cancellations due to staff sickness. Some staff have been traumatised as a result of their involvement in the rescue work they undertook on 7/7 and are not yet returned to duty. There also could be a shortage of serviceable stock due to damage.

Update on 7/7 Attack for 25/7/05:

The Metropolitan Line service was restored from the extension lines to Aldgate from Monday morning 25th July 2005. At the same time, a peak-hour Barking to Baker Street service was introduced at 15 minute intervals.

Update on 7/7 Attack for 24/7/05:

The Edgware Road bomb incident train was moved from the site to Neasden very early Sunday morning 24th July 2005.

Update on 7/7 Attack for 19/7/05:

The rear 4 cars of the damaged 1973 Tube Stock train were towed from the Russell Square site to Cockfosters Depot about 22:00hrs, 17th July 2005.

Update on 7/7 Attack for 17/7/05:

The damaged C Stock train at the Liverpool St/Aldgate incident was moved to Acton Works last night, 16th July 2005.

Update on 7/7 Attack for 10/7/05:

The explosion on the Piccadilly Line occured on a westbound train, apparently on the front car near in the area adjacent to the front double doors. The driver and some passengers escaped with their lives due to the density of passengers. Most of the rest of the passengers appear to have been evacuated from the rear of the train. As of Saturday night, work on the site is confined to forensic, police and other emergency staff. The railway repair company Tubelines, has not been permitted to start clearing up work. Temperatures are very high and special ventilation and refrigeration equipment has had to be provided. At one point work was stopped when site temperatures reached 60 degrees celcius.

There have been reports of a low level of asbestos around the expolsion site. This may be due to old brake dust or tunnel grouting as trains are no longer permitted to operate with this material. A special monitoring system has been put in place.

The number of deaths on the three trains has not yet been altered from those issued on Friday but there are allegedly about 20 persons reported still missing.

The situation at Edgware Road is better, with Metronet staff now involved in clearing up operations. The site at Aldgate is still under forensic control and work here will take longer. The Piccadilly Line site is likely to be in work for a week or more.

An update of the train identification is that the westbound Piccadilly Line train was actually 331 (not 311) running about 20 minutes late due to an earlier problem at Caledonian Road.

Service on London Underground 10th July 2005:

The Metropolitan service was allowed to Moorgate from start of traffic on Saturday 9th July and a service was provided between Hammersmith and Paddington on the H&C Line. A replacement bus service is operating Royal Oak - Baker Street, calling at Paddington.

Circle line - No service

District line - No service between High Street Kensington and Edgware Road.

Piccadilly line - Heathrow/Rayners Lane - Hyde Park Corner and Arnos Grove to Cockfosters. Two special bus services are running: A Arnos Grove - Finchley Central and B Bounds Green - Wood Green - Turnpike Lane - Seven Sisters. There are also additional buses on route 91 linking Holloway Road, Caledonian Road and King's Cross St Pancras with Euston.

There are a lot of security alerts due to persons carelessly leaving bags lying around.

KEEP YOUR BAGS WITH YOU.

LU has enough to do without these unecessary interruptions.

Service on London Underground 8th July 2005:

Services on most lines restored today but there will some disruption as trains are displaced after yesterday's incidents. The Piccadilly, Circle, Hammersmith & City, Metropolitan and District lines will be discontinued or disrupted over parts of their routes.

7/7 Attack on London Underground:

There were three explosions on London Underground today, 7th July 2005, believed to be the work of Islamic terrorists, although this is not confirmed. The first took place on a train between Aldgate East and Liverpool Street at 08:51, the second between Kings Cross and Russell Square on the Piccadilly Line at 08:56 and the third at Edgware Road at 09:17. Deaths are currently repoorted to be 7 at Liverpool Street, 21 at Kings Cross and 7 at Edgware Road. We should also not forget there are two more deaths reported as a result of a fourth explosion on a Route 30 Bus at Woburn Place near Russell Square.

Reports are currently suggesting over 700 injuries with 45 classed as serious.

The speed at which passengers were evacuated and treated and the response of the London Underground staff and emergency services shows that the training and emergency exercises carried out over the last few years have paid dividends. The London Underground and emergency services are to be congratulated on a superb job done under difficult and dangerous conditions. London can be proud of them.

The trains involved were Eastbound Circle Line train 204 east of Liverpool Street, Westbound Circle train 216 west of Edgware Road and westbound Piccadilly Line train 311 between Kings Cross and Russell Square.

Service on London Underground 8th July 2005:

Services on most lines restored today but there will some disruption as trains are displaced after yesterday's incidents. The Piccadilly, Circle, Hammersmith & City, Metropolitan and District lines will be discontinued or disrupted over parts of their routes.

Archived 11 May 2007


Strike Again

Another needless strike on the Underground ended today, 30 June 2004.  It's a shame that the RMT has to pretend that we are still living in the 1970s.  All they have achieved is turn the public more and more against the Underground and particularly against the staff, the majority of whom don't vote in strike ballots.

The Central Line Again

Apparently, this is a question asked in the House of Lords and the answer.  Note that the date is 1 April 2003, but Tubeprune is assured that this is not a "wind up". 

House of Lords 1 April 2003

Baroness Carnegy of Lour: My Lords, has there been any news with regard to the bolts and brackets holding the motors on trains on the other Underground lines in London?

 

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, the Central Line is very peculiar—I say that in full anticipation of the laughter which will follow. The central section of the Central Line has very sharp bends and therefore the trains on that line are designed differently; that is, the trains are put together in two-carriage sets rather than four-carriage sets. For that reason, the trains have motors fitted on every axle of every carriage. That is not the case on any other line and thus there is no reason to suppose that the problems which have arisen with the 1993 rolling stock—those are the trains we are referring to—could arise on any other of the Underground lines.

Tubeprune:  My Lords, I really thought it was a wind up. You got every fact wrong.  And who could be surprised that this country is run so badly when the most senior people in government don't bother to get the correct information on which they then base their decisions.

Archived 2 December 2003


HMRI to Prosecute over Chancery Lane?

It is rumoured that the HMRI is conducting a "witch hunt" in order to find someone to prosecute over the Chancery Lane accident. Regular readers may remember that a 1992 Tube Stock motor dropped onto the track and derailed the train carrying it on 25 January 2003.  LU shut the line down for 3 months while they modified the trains to prevent it happening again, even though the trains were originally designed to prevent it happening.  It turned out the design was poor and the maintenence was appalling.

As for prosecution, Tubeprune is not sure that this will achieve anything, since Hatfield has shown in recent times that all people do is clam up and the truth is never really known. The Kings Cross fire enquiry of the late 1980s showed that even a public enquiry will not say anything that the public doesn't want to hear, e.g. that many of those who died did so because they ignored instructions by staff not to use the escalator which was showing signs of burning. They pushed past the poor SA at the bottom with a BTP copper and ran up the escalator saying, "I've got a train to catch". Some of them missed it.

It was recognised before the first world war that prosecutions were a barrier to the truth and that's why the Victorian habit of charging railway staff deemed to be responsible for accidents with manslaughter was dropped.

Chancery Lane was a symptom of the modern day style of management by paper. Even Malcolm Dobell, London Underground's chief rolling stock engineer, said at the enquiry that all the paperwork was in place but obviously the job wasn't being done, which meant he had to shut the line down. Tubeprune wouldn't have done that but, in the atmosphere of prosecution which now hangs over everything, Malcolm wanted to save his arse. If anyone had tried to force Tubeprune to shut the line down, HMRI included, he would have told them he would dismember them politically limb by limb and feed them piece by piece to Ken Livingstone and Bob Kiley. The Evening Standard would have loved it.

Remember, the job title "Railway Manager" means finding ways to keep the service running not finding ways to shut it down.

So, about the problem. It is unlikely that anyone in LU actually knew what the problem was. They knew there was a problem but they didn't understand the real cause because they hadn't got anyone who knew what to look for. There were serious deficiencies in the maintenance processes.  A team was called in some two years ago to try to discover why the reliability of the 92TS was so bad. What they found was pretty obvious. If you don't overhaul things when the supplier tells you, you are inviting trouble, especially if you try to double the maintenance intervals. If you don't put things back the way you should, more trouble is invited. That's 80% of the 92TS problem.

On top of all this, the original spec for the 92TS motor was actually pushed to perform beyond what it was designed for in order to get the 100 km/h top speed and that hasn't helped.

There was a time when the Central was regarded as the premier tube line, originally having been staffed largely by men from the GWR and having had a lot of money spent on getting it right in its early days. Now look at it. 750 million plus spent on modernising it and 10 years later they still can't get the service they got with the old 1962 Tube Stock and manual signalling.

15 November 2003, archived 2 December 2003


Northern Line Disorganisation

It seems strange that a simple derailment like the one at Camden Town on Sunday 19th October, which would normally have seen the service restored to normal within 24 hours, has thrown LUL management into a complete mess.  They are saying on their website at http://tube.tfl.gov.uk/content/pressreleases/0311/03.asp that it is unlikely that the Northern Line service will be back to normal until early next year.  This is outrageous.  It shows just how bad the LUL management has become.  They can't even repair a simple piece of trackwork and a few tunnel cables.

There is of course, another explanation.  There has long been a desire in LUL to split the Northern Line service into two separate services.   Here is the opportunity.  All they have to do is to is leave things as they are and give the passengers a few months to get used to the new split service.  Then they will announce that the line works so much better with the split service that they will leave it as it is.

So, there you have the two theories - the cock-up theory and the conspiracy theory.  Tubeprune prefers the cock-up theory, since he doesn't think the present management of LUL is bright enough to put together a conspiracy. 

11 November 2003, archived 2 December 2003


Derailments

Anyone from London or the rest of the UK reading this will know that we've just had two derailments on London underground in less than 48 hours - one on the Piccadilly Line and one on the Northern Line. Fortunately only seven people were hurt and none of these serious. It looks as though there may be some industrial action by tube staff to try to increase safety on the tubes which they believe is at risk since the tube was part privatised earlier this year. 

A lot of messages have been posted to the Going Underground Blog.   Have a read - it's quite interesting.

If the closure of parts of the Northern Line affects you, spare a thought for the drivers and station assistants and have a look at this Northern Line special of overheard drivers announcements reported to http://www.goingunderground.net#heroes.

Archived 11 November 2003


Central Line Accident Report

The final report by Dr Roger Aylward on the accident at Chancery Lane, Central Line is available here.   It doesen't tell us much more that we already knew.  The design was poor, the maintenance was bad, LU's engineers didn't really understand what was happening following earlier, similar problems, and additional inspections were obviously not carried out properly, even though the paperwork was all in place.  What was proved was that as long as the bureauracy is OK, no one will get the blame or be sacked.  So, the line had to be closed for four months to protect everyone in LUL.

Archived 25 August 2003


Central Line - Saturday service on the whole line

LU announced on 9 April that the Central Line would get a Saturday service over the whole line from Saturday 12 April.  This Saturday service will continue until all trains are modified to the new standards required following the derailment on 25 January.  This was expected to happen before the end of April but the same service continues.  The announcement is here:

http://www.thetube.com/content/pressreleases/0304/09.asp

Sections of the line are being closed over weekends for essential engineering works.  LU announcement here:

http://www.thetube.com/content/pressreleases/0305/08.asp#centralline

Updated 9 May 2003,   archived 20 June 2003


A Link to the interim Central Line Accident Report:  A damning indictment of LU and Infraco rolling stock maintenance management. 

Reduced to simple terms, the report says that the engineer in charge of LU rolling stock decided to shut down the Central Line because he could not guarantee that the inspection procedures were enough to ensure a safe railway.  It goes on to say that the paperwork showed that the inspection work had been done and there was "no evidence" to show that it hadn't.  However, it stated that the supervisor had also signed the paperwork but didn't see what was going on.  The work was done by two agency staff who were doing 15 trains a day.  (15 x 8 cars x 4 motors x 4 bolts in a day - Mmmm).

There are also suggestions that LUL and Infraco management were arguing about whether an agreed modification should be carried out to correct the problem.  The arguments arose becuse the occurrence of the problem was rare and they weren't sure about the benefits against the costs.

Put another way, the inspections, instituted because they knew there was a problem, probably weren't being done properly because there was no supervision.  Modifications weren't carried out because they couldn't make up their minds.

The actual cause of the Chancery Lane failure is not yet determined.

22 April 2003, archived 20 June 2003


Central Line Derailment News

Central Line - Ealing to Loughton service

Today, 3rd April 2003, LU reopened the Central Line between Marble Arch and Bethnal Green to join up the two shuttle services operating at the ends of the line.  The service now operates between Loughton and Ealing Broadway.

Of course, the service was shut down again shortly after it opened because of a fire alert at Tottenham Court Road.  The service was suspended between Holborn and Marble Arch for two hours.

What a mess.  They had two months to get the line ready and they did nothing.  When trains started running, huge amounts of dust were disturbed, making passengers think trains were on fire.   Why weren't some test trains run through the unused section of line before opening to the public?

The number of trains modified is now 50 out of a total of 85.   There are 30 cars scattered around the system damaged due to accidents.

Posted 3 April 2003

Central Line - Ealing to Marble Arch service

On Monday 24 March, the Central Line offered a 10 minute service between Ealing Broadway and Marble Arch from 15:30hrs.  LU say that they expect to get the whole line opened by Easter (20 April).  If they do the line will not have had a full service for three months.  Hitler didn't stop it for that long during the second world war.

Posted 25 March 2003

Central Line - Eastern end reopens

On Sunday 16 March, the Central Line service was extended to Woodford.  Trains now run between Bethnal Green and Woodford.

Posted 16 March 2003

Part of the eastern end of the Central Line now has a very limited service.  Trains are running only between Leytonstone and Bethnal Green, where there is a crossover.  The service started at 13:00 on 14 March 2003.  There is an LU press release here:

http://www.thetube.com/content/pressreleases/0303/14.asp

There is also an article about the train testing with a video clip of trains being modified plus some shots of a test run.   This can be seen here:

http://www.thetube.com/content/pressreleases/0303/06.asp

Central Line - More Trouble

There was an incident during test running on 13 March, when a train hit a track worker's trolley left too close to the track.  The incident occurred at 19:56 between Mile End and Stratford (EB).  The train was damaged.   Another train was derailed in Hainault Depot at 06:30 and it took them until 11:50 to get the one derailed bogie back onto the track.  LU has exposed all this in a press release here:

http://www.thetube.com/content/pressreleases/0303/13.asp

LU are now so acutely aware that any incidents on their system get exposed to the public and press within minutes that they now seem to throw out press releases at any minor hiccough.  Tubeprune wonders if this good or bad.

Posted 14 March 2003

Central Line - Accident Reports

LUL issued a preliminary report on the Chancery Lane incident and it is available at:

http://www.thetube.com/content/pressreleases/0302/chancery_interim_report2.rtf

It will download as a .rtf (rich text format) file which can be read by most word processors.  It is well worth a read.

Posted 12 March 2003

The HMRI issued a preliminary report on the Chancery Lane incident and it is available at:

http://www.hse.gov.uk/londonunderground.htm

Central Line - Accident Updates

An update on the Central Line incident is available here, with some FAQs:

http://www.thetube.com/content/pressreleases/0302/28.asp

There is an LU press statement with photos of damaged trains at:

http://www.thetube.com/content/pressreleases/0301/26.asp

Posted 28 January 2003.


Wooden Section in Current Rail at Victoria

The section of wood inserted into the negative current rail at Victoria NB Victoria Line was done deliberately to solve a unique problem with the ATO system at that location.  The story dates back to the early days of operation on the Victoria Line in 1969 when some trains suffered spurious emergency stops when starting away from Victoria NB.  After some experiments, it was found that a short section of insulation material (said piece of wood) cured the problem by eliminating the excessive spikes in the traction supply believed to be causing the tripping.

The full story is contained in a letter to Underground News February 2003.  It makes very interesting reading.

Underground News can be obtained from the The London Underground Railway Society .

Posted 30 January 2003.  Archived 28 February 2003.


Chancery Lane - Railway Inspector's Report

The HMRI issued a preliminary report on the Chancery Lane incident and it is available at:

http://www.hse.gov.uk/londonunderground.htm

There is an LU press statement with photos of damaged trains at:

http://www.thetube.com/content/pressreleases/0301/26.asp

Posted 28 January 2003. Archived 28 February 2003.


Kicking LU when it's down

The Standard newspaper of London today (29th January) published a front page photo of a wooden insert in the negative current rail at Victoria (Victoria Line).  Obviously it is a temporary repair and not a very good one.   However, giving the whole of the front page to it is clearly an attempt to blacken LUL's reputation further and demoralise the staff at a time when things couldn't have seemed to be able to get worse. 

How can such a newspaper say it speaks for London when it tries to make London look worse than it is.  This is just kicking LU when it is down.

This sort of thing just gets the press a bad name.   Shame on you!

Posted 29 January 2003. Archived 28 February 2003.


Eyesore

Alan D. Perkin writes:

As the Tubeprune clearly has the notice of the tube management, could you possibly draw their attention to the two old-stock derelict trains parked in the sidings just outside Cockfosters Station.  They have been there for many years, with broken windows and covered with graffiti.  A real eyesore.

Every passenger coming into Cockfosters for the first time must think for a moment or two that they are visiting a third world country!  There seems to be no reason for the continued presence of these trains at what is otherwise a quite pleasant station.

Tubeprune thinks he has a point.

Posted 29 January 2003. Archived 2 February 2003


More Graffiti Recently

Passengers will have noticed that there has been a nasty increase in graffiti recently.  The District and Circle Lines have been the worst hit, with a lot of stupid black scribble on the car ends and inside on the lower door panels.  There are also a number of car sides in a bad condition.  Tubeprune imagines that LU will be wondering why it spent 14 million on some very ugly fencing around its depots and sidings, only to find the criminals can still get in and deface their property. 

One might ask, who is in control of London's metro system, London Underground or a few moronic criminals?   It must be the hope of every LU passenger that the vandals will be caught and sentenced to spend the rest of their natural lives cleaning the same railway cars and walls that they have so supidly defaced.

Posted 14 December 2002.  Archived 2 February 2003


Pay Rise for Drivers

LU has announced a pay rise for drivers, bringing them up to 31,000 a year.  Not bad, but it does involve shift work.  Posted 16 August 2002.


PA

London Underground is showing signs that it has conquered the traditional British reluctance to speak in public.   Despite the reluctance of most British to use any form of public address equipment and the failure of many organisation to overcome this reticence, many LU staff now seem to be able to make an announcement in clear, accentless English.  Even foreigners can understand it.  Congratulations to the Piccadilly Line, which has a recorded announcement on many stations with different announcers who give a clear and intelligent announcement advising of the next station and when the doors are about to close.   Even when they use a staff member to use the PA, the results are often very good.

Train crew also use the PA regularly - the Piccadilly Line comes out well on this too.  Other lines are not as good but are still a lot better then they used to be.  The Metropolitan has a long way to go.

Posted 6 November 2002.


New Northern Line Timetable

London Underground announced this week (12 August 2002) that they are to introduce a new Northern Line timetable.  The main change is that there will be an increase in the number of train running between Kennington and Morden from the present 28 per peak hour to 30 per peak hour.  Nothing remarkable in that you might say but, for the Northern Line, it's been many years since there were 30 trains per hour south of Kennington.

It will not be easy.  The crews will have to be stepped back at Morden and there will have to be slick operation at Kennington and Camden Town.  At Kennington, 20 trains an hour off each branch (via the City or via Charing Cross) come into a junction where 10 trains have to reverse and 30 carry on south.  At Camden Town, half the trains from the City and from Charing Cross are divided between the Edgware branch and the Highgate Branch.  This is not an easy operation and needs good management if it is to succeed on a regular basis.

Posted 12 August 2002


Plarstow or Plaistow?

On the Hammersmith & City Line, the female recorded information announcer on the C Stock refers to "Playstow" as the destination of trains terminating at Plaistow.  She is, of course, wrong.  In spite of the spelling, the place is actually pronounced "Plarstow".  As custodian of the city's mass transit system, London Underground ought to learn how to pronounce the names of its own stations.  Posted 19 September 2002.

Lizzie writes, 'I quite agree.  The announcer says, on the Northern Line, "The next station is Hi-gut."   No, it's not, it's Hi-gayt, or at least, all the people who live there think it's Hi-gayt...'  

Posted 24 November 2002. Archived 2 February 2003


Rough Ride?

If you take a train round the Circle from Barbican to Gloucester Road (inner rail), you will get a good idea of the ranges of track condition to be found on the Underground these days.  The first bit, between Barbican and Kings Cross, is so rough that you sometimes get worried as to whether the train will actually stay on the track.  It rocks and rolls along, the bogies rattling and banging as the mechanical parts each reach the limit of their movement and hit a bump stop.  At the other end of the scale, further round the Circle, the new junction installation at Baker Street is superb.  It is so well laid that it is quite impossible for the passenger to notice that there is even a junction there.

Round to Bayswater and more rocking and rolling, where constant trouble with water penetration at the east end of the station and poor maintenance at the west end has produced some very bad track conditions.  Then on to Gloucester Road, where the new track laid under the repaired covered way provides a wonderfully smooth and quiet ride.

It is interesting to note that LU conducted some tests on A Stock during the mid-1990s to see what affected the ride the most.  Surprise, surprise, it was the track.  In spite of its age, the report said, the A Stock bogies give a very good ride as long as the track is in good condition.   So, LU could do a lot to improve its image simply by bringing its track into good condition and keeping it there.  It's a shame they didn't realise this before they had to buy new bogies for the D Stock because the old ones were destroyed by the terrible track they had to run on.

Archived 2 February 2003


London Underground's line performance tables and graphs

The London Underground web site has started publishing train and line performance tables.  For some lines, these make sobering reading.  A good metro line should be able to turn in a 99.5% scheduled kilometerage performance.  Only one of the LU lines reach this level.   The best is the Northern, which reached 99.6% last month but this has to be because they only need 84 trains and they have 106 to play with.  This is 25% spare trains - most lines are lucky if they get 10%.

The worst performing lines are the Hammersmith and Circle - not surprising when you consider all the flat junctions round the Circle and the age and design of the stock.  Their "trains in service" performance means that there are three or four trains missing every peak hour out of 33.

However, all is not doom and gloom.  The service performance is improving on most lines and this can been seen from the latest figures.  Tubeprune is sure that much of this is to do with the introduction of SATS and Bats over a larger number of stations......anyway, well done LU - but keep it up, there is still lots of work to do.

Archived 2 February 2003


Recruitment

LU recently announced that staff absenteeism has dropped.  They did a big recruitment campaign a few months ago and they even advertised for train staff in Cosmopolitan Magazine.  Now, recruitment of train staff has stopped because they have enough and LU has been able to run full weeks at a time without train cancellations due to staff shortages.  This is remarkable during a time of economic stability.  LU really is doing something right. 

If you want to see what a Train Operator's training is really like, go here.

Posted 31 July 2002.  Archived 2 February 2003


Daylight Lighting

Early in July 2002, trains began appearing with a new type of in-car lighting tube called "daylight lighting".  Ray Bennett reported this in uk.transport.london and mentioned that,

"For those that are wondering what one of these is, it's an ordinary tube light that has been coated with the right phosphors to produce a light-level & colour that is very close to "daylight".(Sylvannia Colour 860).  These are used in such places as dental surgeries, fashion houses etc. to give accurate colour reproduction."

The new lighting has been reported as being installed on trains on the Metropolitan and District Lines and has been seen on Tottenham Court Road station. 

Posted 8 July 2002.


A bad week - and it's only Wednesday

Dateline 18 September 2002 - London Underground is having a terrible week.  Today, a Metropolitan Line driver, driving an 8-car A Stock, accepted the wrong route at Baker Street and ended up in the 6-car Platform 6.  He was pointing towards Edgware Road instead of Finchley Road.  This happened at 08:30 and Tubeprune happened to be there.  The passengers were detrained in Platform 6 and the train eventually went back towards Great Portland Street over the crossover beyond Baker St Junction.

This evening, the Piccadilly Line was disrupted by people wandering around on the track somewhere and it took 20 minutes to get from South Kensington to Hammersmith at 20:30.  Tubeprune eventually got a District from Hammersmith which overtook three Piccadilly trains standing at Ravenscourt Park, Stamford Brook and Turnham Green with doors open to allow frustrated passengers to get off and get the District.

If all this wasn't enough, the Northern Line was suspended south of Kennington due to a signal failure.

On Tuesday (17th September), the H & C service was reversing at Moorgate around midday.  No explanation, just the long walk from the bay platform over to the eastbound.  There was also a stalled train at Bank WB at 08:05 and it took until 09:25 to push it up to St Pauls and tip everyone out.  What a mess that was.

But, preceding all this, on Saturday 14th September, a driver on the District at Hammersmith (eastbound) took the wrong route and ended up going over the crossover at the east end of the station on to the Piccadilly Line.  Here's the picture (with a complete description) to prove it: 

Wrong Stick.jpg (32523 bytes)Click on the image for the full size view and description

Photo supplied by "Tom" and forwarded to Tubeprune by District Dave.  Thank you both.


Archived 27 September 2002


Mr Robert Kiley

From Tubeprune, 29 March 2001 to utl

Perhaps a few facts will help.  Mr Kiley didn't "run" the New York Subway.  He was the man who brokered the politics which allowed the money to be found within the US political system, which is very different to ours.  When Mr Kiley joined the MTA, the rehabilitation programme has already been going for two years and the first new trains were already delivered.  This was 1983.    He just kept the money flowing from then on.

Mr Kiley has had a big problem understanding the UK political and procurement system.  It is quite different from that in the US.  The US still has a prescriptive technical procurement system, where the thickness of the glass and how to test the bolt torques are included in train tenders. This is not a performance spec as we know it in the UK, which would say "supply enough trains to run this service on this line at this frequency".

However, Mr Kiley is nobody's fool.  He is right to question the PPP as it is structured today.  It is foolish to try to separate operations from maintenance and capital works.  The best way to improve the London Underground is to offer the whole lot to private management.  Only the tenderer able to offer the best value for money, safety culture and operational expertise would be given the job.  Unfortunately, the present management has abrogated its responsibility in an attempt to show that the system won't work because they want money to buy new kit.    The system could actually run a lot better with decent operational management. 

It is time for a properly (commercially) motivated railway management to be put into place to restore the Underground to its proper place as a world class transportation system.  The PPP as presently structured, won't do this.

Archived from Forum 16 August 2002.

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On the Underground - Dwell Time Management

A trip on the Underground in the evening peak hour yesterday, 19th March, was interesting in that many busy stations have now introduced active dwell time management.  Apparently senior supervisors (or people who have voices with some authority for a change) are encouraging passengers with announcements to board and alight trains efficiently so that trains can get away promptly.  

Of course, this was a technique used for many years up to the 1970s, by which time passenger levels had dropped so much that trains were rarely full, even at peak times.  Platform attendance by staff was hardly necessary since there weren't enough passengers to delay station stops.   Active dwell time management stopped completely.  As a result, LU gradually lost the skills needed to cope with large numbers of people.  Now they are having to relearn these skills.  This is a long overdue improvement.

Archived 23 March 2002

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Today on the Underground - US SA?

The station announcer at Monument (Eastbound District Line) was heard on the morning of 14th March with an American accent.  His diction was clear and modulated and you could understand everything he said.  Americans always seem so much more confident at making announcements.  We should have more of them doing the announcements on the Tube.

Archived 20 March 2002

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PPP Confusion

The PPP process was finally thrown into ridicule last week by the combined efforts of the City financial institutions of London, the management of London Underground and their owners, Transport for London, (TfL) all acting against each other.  It started on 6th March when the City institutions issued a letter to the Chancellor, Gordon Brown, stating that, because the government had forced Railtrack to go into receivership, money for Public-Private Partnerships would be very difficult to raise.  Any that was raised would be more expensive to borrow.  They said, in effect, "We lost a lot when you pulled the plug on Railtrack.  We have lost faith in you.  If you want us to do this again, it will cost more to insure and we want government guarantees that you will compensate us for the losses if you do another Railtrack."

On 7th March, the Evening Standard newspaper appeared with two full page advertisements, one from TfL, urging the public to contact them with messages speaking against the PPP proposals and one from London Underground and its PPP contractors telling us that huge sums of money are going to be spent on the refurbishment of the Underground and how wonderful that will be for everyone.  What is staggering about this is that TfL is supposed to control London Underground.  Here is a government body (TfL), completely at odds with its own company and completely unable to manage it.  Worse, the lists of projects and improvements offered by the two organisations are completely different.  We could be talking two different cities here.  No, folks, this is London.

In the background of this chaos, the PPP bidders are trying to finalise their contracts with their bankers, their sub suppliers (who will build new trains and enlarge the stations) and LUL.  These negotiations are nothing if not difficult, being conducted in an atmosphere of political chaos, financial uncertainty and the usual, "We're not accepting that risk" approach from each party round the table.  Anyone who has sat in on such meetings will tell you that they are alternatively boring and then terrifying as long arguments over the difference between the meaning of "performance outputs" and "performance requirements" exchange places with sudden realisations by individuals that their corporate private parts are on the commercial chopping block because they hadn't realised that London Underground's track voltage is 630, not the usual 750.  They are conducted in lawyers offices charging 500 an hour per lawyer (and there are always at least two), plus expenses and who have presently run up a bill of 100 million over the four years of the PPP process.

And what of the passengers in all this?   Well, the numbers of people using the system off-peak is now greater than the peak levels of the 1980s.  The system performs fairly well for an organisation which has forgotten how to manage large numbers of people properly and is now having to relearn such skills.  The job is made more difficult in the new social environment of aggressive lawlessness, graffiti and soft policing which we are expected to endure these days.   Worse, the public have higher expectations of service and comfort, which the Underground system was never designed to provide.

In the end, money is still the root of all this evil.  Unless government gets to grips with the idea that they will have to build new lines, as well as rebuilding the existing system, that they must start now and that this will cost double what they are planning on spending, there is little hope for Londoners that their journey to work will get much better anytime in the next 10 years.

Comment by Tubeprune 7 March 2002, archived 14 March 2002.

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Strike News (November 2001)

It seems the Underground staff unions have come out on top, despite various macho events where both sides have been out to prove who's got the bigger balls.  The remote booking on issue, which formed part of the dispute, dates back some years when LUL agreed to provide facilities at 'non-home depots'.  This was because train crews were expected to travel to collect a train some distance from where they normally started but with no additional allowance to do it.  The facilities, it was alleged by the unions, were not provided.  The unions are now saying that they have an agreement that remote starts to duties will be paid for by an overtime allowance.  This would be at least fifteen minutes per book on/off.   What difference this makes to the provisions for facilities (particularly for women) at remote points seems obscure but, since when has logic been applied in these matters.  There have actually been few complaints from individuals and how this equates to improving working conditions is unclear.

The pay issues in the dispute are a little clearer and seem a more reasonable complaint.  The argument was that, in return for pay restraint, the unions agreed a three year deal, whereby drivers would accept settlements at no higher than the rate of inflation, in return for a 35 hour working week .  Engineering train drivers (i.e. those based at West Ruislip and Lillie Bridge) have, in the meantime, moved ahead paywise and have now had their hours reduced to 35 hours without the restraint imposed on passenger drivers.  The unions were looking for this to be redressed.   ACAS apparently agreed with them and, whilst all other staff accepted a 4% rise, the unions still stuck out for restoration to the same salary for passenger drivers as for the engineer's train crews.

The end result is that the management seem to have backed down in view of the strike action intended for Friday 12th October and later.  There was much posturing in the media (the unions came over poorly, it seems to some) and the London papers have a report that the settlement has cost LUL nothing.  If one believes what the unions are saying this may be correct for this moment in time, but certainly will not be the case over a twelve month period.    The statement from the unions is that passenger drivers will be restored to the same rates as Engineer's train drivers by this time next year - if this is correct then Train Ops. will be on a basic in excess of 30,000 by this time next year.........

Archived 7 March 2002.

 

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