How to "Get on the Handle"
The Recruitment and Training of a London
Underground Train Operator
The recruitment and training of a London
Underground Train Operator as written by a London Underground Train Operator for
Tubeprune. This is how someone is trained to get a job "on the handle", as
it is known on London Underground. From this you may decide this is the life for
you. Only seriously interested people should apply, since the shift work can
be difficult and the skill requirements are rigorously tested at the recruitment stage.
Before I get into the full swing of this piece, Ill try
to set the picture of how I got involved with London Underground. About three
and a half years ago I had the opportunity to part company with my previous employer of
some twenty-eight years. My previous work had nothing at all to do with the transport
industry in general or railways at all (other than from time-to-time having used the
Underground as a commuter).
I had no real idea of what I wanted to do so, when my next
door neighbour, who is a Duty Station Manager and another near neighbour, who is a Station
Assistant, both independently suggested that as London Underground were recruiting for
station staff it might be something to do even if only in the short term while I was
looking for a "proper job" I thought I might as well give it a crack. I
duly applied and was offered a Station Assistant position and went through the four-week
training process at the London Underground Training Centre at Ashfield House in West
It was after I had been at my station for about eight months
that the adverts for Train Operators appeared in the weekly Traffic Circular, that I started to think about
this as an alternative to station life. Up to this point I had always really assumed that
I would progress through this side of the business to Station Supervisor grade and perhaps
beyond, depending on how things worked out. You will, I think, have realised by now that I
had become accustomed to the culture, shifts and working practices of London Underground
and had accepted that I would probably make a career with the organisation. Up to this
point I had never really thought that the "Train Side" would be avenue which
would open up to me.
I happened to work at a Station which was one of the main
change over points for Train Crews and had got to know a goodly number of Train Operators,
Instructor Operators (I/Os) and Duty Managers (Trains) (DMTs) and when I talked to them
about the vacancies they all encouraged me to "go for it we can see you on the
handle". I had a Training Day available to me, so arrangements were made for me
to spend a day with an Instructor Operator to see what the job was all about.
Departing from my home station early one morning saw me in
the cab with the I/O, with him explaining to me the various bits of kit in the cab, what
each did and explaining basic driving techniques. He asked, "Do you think
youve got the hang of that?" to which I answered (somewhat uncertainly
there seemed so much to take in) "Yes, I think so" and was promptly told that I
was then going to drive the thing for the rest of the trip. To say I was taken aback
would be an understatement; I had expected to do a "rounder" observing and to
see what it was like on the front of the train, but not to actually take control.
So I spent the rest of his duty "on the
handle". We kept up with the timetable (as far as is ever possible on London
Underground), didnt have the Line Controller complaining of slow progress and the
I/O didnt need to resort to tranquillisers (at least not that I noticed). The
I/Os hand didnt even seem to hover nervously by the emergency brake! At
the end of the day I was very pleased to be told that I had done better than most new
drivers on their first day of road training! To protect the innocent I wont
say which line or depot were involved in this, but I was assured that it is all perfectly
Thus encouraged, I got hold of the Application Pack and duly
filled out the necessary forms, giving examples of "competencies" and sent these
off to the appropriate Department.
Now we get to the nitty gritty of the Recruitment Process.
To the Top of this Page
The Aptitude Assessment
I was duly invited to attend for an "Aptitude
Assessment" which I was told would take about three and a half to four hours.
The process involved the following:
- An English test this was mainly aimed at seeing if your
spelling and comprehension was OK and that you were capable of receiving and relaying
information accurately. Having spent my previous life writing letters, reports,
summaries, business cases etc. this presented me with no problem.
- A Public Address announcement. First you received the
information, next you wrote out your announcement and then you recorded it onto audio tape
for the benefit (I guess) of the panel, which would assess whether you would be invited
for interview (assuming you got through the tests). Again no problem. As
Station Staff, one spends a fair amount of time making Public Address announcements, so
this was no different to what I was doing everyday.
- A mechanical comprehension test this involved looking
at various diagrams of mechanical items such as levers, cogs, wheels etc. and deciphering
what the end result of the action of one on another would be. Again, no real problem with
this. Ive always been interested in machinery engines, cars, motorbikes etc.
and felt pretty confident on this one.
- Next came a Fault Finding exercise this was trickier,
partly because it involved a number of actions which would impact on each other and you
had to trace and decide which was not working, but also because the format was also
completely different from the examples which had been sent to "help" with the
process of preparing for the tests! After a brief period of panic I managed to
tackle the task and, as I passed, I must assume that I did OK!
- Finally, there were two computer tests. One involved
picking out particular groups of dots in a given period of time (to test concentration I
believe) and the second was responding to lights, sounds, symbols on a special keyboard
and pedals which was to assess a combination of accuracy and reactions. Being keen
on computers (and computer games especially the "simulator" type), I
handled these with no problems.
On the day I attended I was the only candidate there and
completed the process in about two hours. I think I was lucky, because I effectively
worked at my own speed and not the speed of the slowest, which is the case if it is done
in a group. The tests themselves are all time limited, but there is no limit to the
time given on practice sessions before each group of tests. Anyway, I left
the assessment feeling reasonably confident that I had done well enough to pass this
hurdle. Confirmation of this arrived a couple of days later when I was invited for
I hasten to add at this point that passing these assessments
is far from a forgone conclusion. I believe eighteen of my colleagues just from my
Station Group applied at this time and only one other and I passed the assessment
stage. I have to say that I felt that several who were rejected were just as good as
I and I was disappointed for them.
To the Top of this Page
I duly presented myself for the interview on the date and at
the time and place stated on the invitation letter, only to be greeted by rather blank
expressions from the recruitment staff! Yes, they were interviewing on that day and
place but had no record of my appointment. I duly produced my letter and they
hastily huddled and managed to produce the interviewers (I think I probably interrupted
their lunch) and the interview commenced.
The interviewers were a representative of Recruitment
Services and (I think) a Train Operations Manager. Again, the interview is
"competency based" and I duly gave answers to the matters they required
covered. I was asked additional questions such as "why do you want to be a
Train Operator" and "given this situation what do think your actions would
be" and so on. There was some discussion about the Lines and Depots available
and their suitability for me personally. I gave my views on these and the interview
My feelings (initially) were that the interview had gone
well, although later self-doubt began to creep in and I thought of a thousand reasons why
I had fluffed it!
Anyway, a couple of days later I was informed that I had been
successful and that confirmation of my Depot and Training date would follow in due
course. As it happens, when the letter did arrive, the Depot and Line where none of
those discussed, although, happily, what I was offered for both would have been my first
choice. Its not often on London Underground that this happens.
To the Top of this Page
Finally the Great Day arrived and I and thirteen or fourteen
others, duly presented ourselves at Ashfield House on the first day of our training.
Most of my colleagues were ex-station staff, although there were two ex-guards and a
former Revenue Control Inspector in the group.
We were, I believe, the ninth group to be trained under the
Direct Recruit Operators scheme (colloquially known as DROPS London Underground
manages to find an acronym for about everything!) and that our training would last nine
full weeks, with a tenth week set aside for "Final Consolidation" and to allow
for any delays which may have occurred during the previous nine weeks. At the end of this,
assuming we had passed out, we would go to our lines as fully qualified Train Operators
and then undertake Stock (if necessary), Line and any other training appropriate to the
Lines individual needs. This would take about a further four weeks, assuming all
went to plan.
It is perhaps worth mentioning here that, in the past, the
traditional recruitment route for Train Operators had been through having been a Guard who
already had an in depth grounding of trains, train equipment and "rules and
regs." But since the introduction of One Person Operation ("OPO"
another London Underground acronym) this source of recruits has come to an
end. Hence we (even although we were all internal recruits for the role) were
"DROPS", despite the previous training in some areas we had already received and
the experience some (although not all) had gained in signals, track procedures and so on.
This timescale has now extended since I trained to, I
believe, twenty-two weeks because true "Direct Recruits (i.e. those who are
completely new to London Underground) were finding that it was too intensive, as they did
not have the benefit of the prior knowledge of the organisation and its workings that the
internal recruits obviously already held. I cant say Im surprised at
this lengthening of the process as it was certainly extremely intensive and there are a
number of critical points where you can be failed and returned to your previous life!
This certainly happened. I think of our original number three failed at
some point along the course. Whether this was through lack of knowledge or through
panic under the pressure of the examinations I dont know. However, in either
event I guess it was appropriate for them to be failed. You cant have a Train
Operator with inadequate knowledge or who becomes flustered and panics under pressure.
At the end of the day you are dealing with safety critical issues and you must know
and follow, correct procedures and you must never compromise the safety of yourself or
others, be they customers or staff.
To the Top of this Page
Its again worth bearing in mind that the course I was
on was intended for Direct Recruits, completely new to London Underground.
The week started with the usual round of introductions; who
we were, where wed come from, what wed done in the past and so on and the
Instructor outlined what was ahead of us in the weeks to come. It was also mentioned (with
a certain amount of irony) that after about five weeks we would actually get to see a
It was also very much emphasised that the course would be
intensive, and require a great deal of commitment from the candidates, both individually
and collectively, if we were to succeed. This would also include spending time each
evening reviewing what had been done and studying any aspects of which we were unsure.
The first part of the course was very much an introduction to
London Underground, Team Building exercises, researching various aspects of London
Underground such as signals, train composition, a visit to the London Transport Museum and
so on. As we all came from within the organisation none of this was new to us, and,
in fact, most of us had done exactly the same when we had started as Station
Assistants. So this was a fairly easy week but had the benefit of being able to get
to know each other.
To the Top of this Page
Weeks Two to Four and a Half
These weeks were taken up with Operational Procedures
Training (OPT) that has taken the place of the old "Rules and
Regulations". This was the start of the hard work, and there were a number of
critical points that had to be reached, assessed and passed if we were to be able to carry
on with the training. At the completion of each "module" a rest would be
taken to check on progress by the candidates. Although these were not crucial to
carrying on, a pass mark was needed or there would be a review and resit, if the
Instructor deemed it necessary.
The first two days were taken up with getting to know
"The Reference Manual" which is the multi-volume document which lays down the
procedures, requirements etc. for just about every situation, circumstance and procedure
for everything that occurs on London Underground. It represents London
Undergrounds Safety Case and its procedures must be followed. If they are not,
one lays oneself open to (at best) an Interview with your employing manager or (at worst)
dismissal from the company, with a number of stages in between.
Next we moved on to the Supply and Distribution of Traction Current; how to get it turned off in an emergency, Rail Gaps, emergency switching arrangements and so on.
Signalling Systems occupied
three days. This included all the different types used, both automatic and
semi-automatic, Trainstops and Tripcocks, Junction indications, Mechanical and Electrical
Interlocking, Signalling Overlaps, Shunt Signalling and much more.
We then looked at the question of being safe on the track,
including both in Traffic Hours and around Depots. This culminated with a
"Track Walk" to allow you to demonstrate what you had learnt and finally a
Computer Based Assessment that was the basis of you qualifying as "Track
Competent" and thus being able to carry on with the course failure would see
your return to your previous life.
The Computer Based Testing presents you with a question and
multiple answers; you have to pick the right one. Sounds simple, but some of the
answers are very close, and you must pick the right one (first time, no second chance) to
answer correctly. The situation is made even more complex by the answers being
"weighted" in value. If the question is deemed "Safety Critical" it
carries 12%. To pass the test you must gain 80%. 70% - 80% will see a review with
the Instructor and an immediate resit (one opportunity only), less than 70% is a straight
and immediate fail. The tests must also be completed within an allocated time; if
you havent finished and the time runs out, thats it. During the test the
computer tells you of your progress and your passed/failed questions so far.
That in itself is quite intimidating.
No one had any real problems with the course to this point.
Much of it was the same as we had gone through in our training as Station Assistants or
during "Annual Test of Rules", although some aspects of signalling were more in
depth and (correctly) extended our knowledge as is appropriate for a Train Operator.
We now started to get into less familiar territory and spent
the next five days looking at a plethora of procedures covering (and I am choosing only a
few) aspects such as Passing Signals at Danger in the event of Signal Failures etc., SPADS
(the unauthorised passing of signals at danger), Radio Procedures, Wrong Direction Moves,
Point to Point Working, Station Overruns, Protection of Staff in Tunnels, Mirrors and
Monitors and many more even including the grizzly subject of "One Unders" or,
more correctly, Person Under a Train.
Earlier I alluded to the emphasis placed on Teamwork and, by
now, this had certainly become apparent. There had been much exchanging of phone
numbers and calls in the evenings between candidates to check on areas of
uncertainty. There had also been a couple of examples of tensions between
individuals on the course and the Instructors were quick to step in and rearrange the
groups to alleviate these and prevent the whole group being negatively affected.
So, after twelve very intensive days, we reached the point of
the "Final Assessment". Again, this was a computer based test, which saw fifteen
hot, bothered and extremely nervous recruits all sitting in a room in from of computer
screens, dreading what was to come and, again, knowing that their future was in the
The test was comprised (I think) of fifty questions, but many
of these had "sub questions" to them and required to be answered showing the
correct step-by-step procedure. If you got one part wrong, you lost the question and,
potentially 12% of your marks. The same rules applied as outlined before.
On this occasion we were not, as a group, quite so fortunate.
Two of the candidates had to resit and passed at the second attempt, but one scored in the
mid fifties and after some sad words, and encouragement to try again at a later date, was
sent back to the stations.
So the next critical point had been passed, and I was still
To the Top of this Page
End of Week Four
The last couple of days were spent on less intense matters,
such as a visit to a Depot to look at how roster and duty sheets work, the domestic
arrangements in place and so on. We also looked at "Roles and
Responsibilities", that is how a Train Operator fits into the organisation and so on.
These days were intentionally included to relax the tensions and pressures
that had, inevitably, built up in the previous weeks.
The group also unanimously decided that we deserved a
celebration to mark our survival to date, so it was agreed that on the Friday
"civvies" would be brought in and at the end of the days work we would
adjourn to the pub for a well-deserved session. Our Instructors were also invited and,
Im pleased to say, joined us for the evening. Suffice it to say a good evening was
enjoyed by all and I will confess to a fair hangover the next morning.
So I had now reached, and survived the first real
"Critical Point" in my quest to become a Train Operator. My collection of
training manuals, notes and knowledge was increasing daily and my bag was getting heavier
by the day with material I was carrying around.
Up to now Id been on fairly familiar ground; my old
station had practically all the signal types we had discussed during the previous three
weeks, Id been involved in getting traction current discharged and Id been
involved in "scotching and clipping" - the system used to secure points for a
set route when there has been a signal failure and it was necessary to secure a route to
enable trains to proceed. This was all about to change and we were about to enter a
completely new world, that of Train Equipment.
To the Top of this Page
This was where we started to learn about Trains; how they
work and what makes them work. The week got off to a slightly strange start when the
Instructor who took this part of the course went sick and there was a deal of confusion as
to how they were going to cover the week ahead.
Eventually an Instructor Operator was drafted in from
Stonebridge Depot (Bakerloo Line) the logic for this will become clearer later -
who freely and openly admitted that he had never done this course before and, to make
matters even more complicated, did not have the course delivery notes from which the
instructors work, as they were in the possession of the instructor who should have been
taking the course and could not be accessed. However, he said he felt sure that he
could deliver something appropriate even though it would be made up as we went along.
In the event, this worked out to be a good grounding for what
was to follow later. The week was formally titled "Principals of Train
Equipment", known colloquially as "POTE (pronounced Potty) Training"; yet
another London Underground acronym.
Officially the work was all to be done in the classroom, but
our hastily drafted Instructor decided that he was going to do this in his own way and
split the week between the classroom and Stonebridge Park Depot on 1972 Tube Stock (72TS) photo trains so that we could see, hear and
experience what we were learning in theory.
We started with looking at matters such as stock formations
(how a train is made up), where the different equipment is located, how compressed air is
generated and distributed around the train, how the 630vDC traction current is picked up
and distributed around the various equipment it operates. How 630vDC is
converted to supply 250vAC for lighting, the use of 50vDC and batteries to operate control
circuits, relays, MCBs (Miniature Circuit Breakers), fuses, electrical circuits,
main line and train line air, Electro Pneumatic and Westinghouse braking systems, door
systems and much more.
Confused you should be! We all certainly
were. At this time we were in the classroom looking at diagrams of air supply,
wiring diagrams, braking diagrams - showing how different operations of the CTBC (Combined
Traction Brake Controller) resulted in different valves operating, thus causing different
braking efforts and so on.
The logic of the aptitude assessments during the selection
process was now becoming more obvious. If you had no ability for things mechanical or
being able to follow a sequence through, you would now be really struggling to keep up
with all that was coming your way.
Now Im a reasonably mechanically minded sort of person.
Ive done a deal of mechanical work in my time; rebuilding motor cycle and car
engines, servicing them, replacing suspension and steering parts, getting them working
when they wont, some electrical work and even (reluctantly) the odd bit of plumbing.
But I freely admit that I felt I was struggling and was starting to get seriously
concerned as to whether I was up to all this and whether I should have become a station
supervisor instead. My colleagues didnt seem to share my doubts in my
abilities as I found myself being used as some sort of fountain of knowledge.
They seemed to gravitate towards me during breaks and at the end and beginning of the days
with questions prefixed with "you know what hes talking about
whats xxxxx all about?" Perhaps it was because I at least understood some
of the terminology and had come up with a few pertinent questions and shown some
understanding of the diagrams and so on.
Much (probably most) of the terminology being used was
completely new to most of us, apart from the two ex-guards on the course who had, of
course, seen much of it before. However this led to some confusion at times as they
had trained on 59TS and, although much was the same, some items were quite different on
these later trains and they often ended up confusing themselves (and sometimes the rest of
the group!) with the knowledge they already had.
Bearing in mind that we had a number of female members in our
group, there was a certain amount of juvenile banter revolving around the use of terms
such as "cocks", "tongues and throats" and "male" and
"female" connections very silly really but seemed to appeal to some of
the baser instincts of a few candidates.
So, thus armed with theoretical knowledge, we duly reported
at Stonebridge Depot on Day 3 to see and put our newly gained knowledge into practical
use. Finally we actually get to see and get our trembling hands, on a train.
Fortunately, our Instructor managed to rustle up a colleague
and two trains so that at least the group could be split into two trying to get
fourteen fully grown adults of various shapes and sizes plus an Instructor into the cab of
a 72TS train would have been some sort of world record; even seven plus Instructor was
stretching matters and they often had to go over the same matters twice (or more on
occasions) so that everyone was kept in the picture of what was being
We learnt how to "Open Up" the train that is
charge the air lines so that the train could actually move, see what the various kit in
the cabs was for, see the MCBs, see the fuses and the effect they had on the train
when removed (thus simulating a "blown" fuse), how you open the doors when there
is no air to work the door motors, what a main line burst sounds like and the effect it
has on the train, what a train line burst sounds like and its effect and so on.
I, at least, had my (albeit) brief experience of actually
driving a train but many of the candidates had never even been in a train cab before, let
alone having ridden in one. I must say that this has always struck me as a little bizarre
that we were now five weeks into our training and some people were still in this
position. After all, this was (hopefully) going to be their place of work for the
next several years to come and they had no idea at all of what it was like.
I soon found myself feeling reasonably at home, lifting
seats, working various pieces of equipment and trying things out to really get a
"feel" of the train. The Instructors often sent me off to lift a seat and throw
a Compressor Cut Out Switch (or whatever).
Again, I found my colleagues coming to me with
questions. I even had the Instructors asking if Id been a guard and when I
answered "no" they then said, something like, well youve obviously had
previous experience of trains, did you come from BR? Again, I had to explain that I
had no training, knowledge or experience other than what I had learnt for myself over the
years and, I admit (anorak!) that Ive always been interested in trains and, I guess,
that the opportunity to finally get my hands on them was too good to miss.
I think this interest in things mechanical in general and
trains in particular probably came from my maternal grandfather. He had served his
apprenticeship with the Great Western Railway at Swindon in the early 1900s and his
family before had been railwaymen. My early memories of him was of him often delving
into radios and photographic enlargers surrounded by tools and soldering irons so I
suppose its all to do with regression to childhood. (Yes indeed - Tubeprune)
So these days went (for me) quickly, although I still felt
that my head was bursting, trying to remember all we had learnt, covered, seen and done.
On the last day of the week, the course book stated that
there would be a written assessment. The Instructor decided that there would not be
one; a) as he didnt have the test papers and b) as he would mark us according to
what we had practically demonstrated in the previous days. He duly collected up our
Training Record Books, sat at his desk back in the classroom and completed the marks he
felt appropriate to the candidates. He handed them back to us on a "one to
one" basis and when he saw me, I was very flattered when he thanked me for my help,
not only to him, but in the way I had helped my colleagues who were showing less
When we compared the marks (as one does) we found that he had
marked everyone at 85%, except me I had been given (to my embarrassment) 95%.
I was apologetic to my colleagues, saying that I didnt feel that I had done anything
more than they. Several disagreed, saying that I had and one even wanted to go and
"sort him out" as he thought I deserved 100%.
So we came to the end of week five and, in fact, the point
where we would be permanently split for the remainder of our training and would only come
together on the last day for the "Final Consolidation" examination.
We would now go either to Stonebridge Depot (to continue on
72TS) if we were destined for "Deep Tube" stocks or Edgware Road (to train on
C69 Stock photo) if we were going to a
Sub-Surface Line for the next stage of our training. This was to do with, mainly, the
differences of where equipment is located on Tube or Surface Stocks.
I mentioned earlier the use of the 72TS at this stage for the
POTE Training. Essentially the 72TS and C69 Stocks are the same train, just with different
bodies; mechanically they are more or less identical, albeit with some equipment located
in different places. For example, fuses on Tube Stocks are located under seats (i.e.
inside the trains) whereas Sub-Surface Stocks have them beneath the "Sole Bar"
(the chassis on which the body is mounted). This is all to do with space; Sub-Surface
Stocks are bigger and have room for some equipment to be mounted externally whereas Tube
Stocks are more space critical. As I was to go to the District Line it was off to
Edgware Road for me.
I think, at this point, its worth going into a little
detail of how (as far as I can work out!) line allocations come about at the recruitment
stage of this long process. When I had applied, the advert had stated that there
were vacancies at Acton Town (for the Piccadilly Line), Edgware Road (for the Hammersmith
& City/Circle Lines) and at Queens Park (for the Bakerloo Line). ,At the interview I
was told that there were also vacancies at Neasden for the Jubilee Line. I said that all
of these would be practical for me, but that Edgware Road would be the most difficult for
extreme shifts. Some account is (I believe) supposed to be taken of where an
individual lives in relation to the depots available but, I have to say, this doesnt
always seem to work in practice, so I was fully expecting to be sent to Edgware Road. This
logic is also supposed to be applied to station staff recruitment but, again, doesnt
always seem to work out.
When I was told that I had been accepted for training I was
informed that as my training would be deferred for a while as I had four weeks annual
leave booked I would be informed of my line and depot at a later date.
Understandably the requirement was for the whole of the training to run continuously, with
no leave being taken during its duration.
After I had applied and been accepted, a further advert
appeared in the Traffic Circular with a much wider range of depots and I was somewhat
chagrined to find that the District Line (which would have been my first choice) was now
on the list. I was sure in my own mind that I would be limited to the original
choice given at interview.
As my leave was approaching and I had not been informed of my
training dates, line or depot I phoned Ashfield House to see if they had any news. I
was informed that there was a letter going out that day and would I like to know the
content. Of course, I said, "Yes please" and after a brief wait was told
the date and "youll be going to Acton Town". From this I
assumed the Piccadilly Line and, I have to say, of the original depots this would have
been the best option. However, when the letter actually arrived it was Acton Town
District. To say I was over the moon would probably be an understatement I
think my whoops of joy were probably heard across the whole of London.
To the Top of this Page
Weeks Six and Seven
Our training on the C69 Stock was to be carried out at the
Circle Line Training Centre at Edgware Road and at Hammersmith Depot. We knew
that at the end of the following Friday we would either be Train Operators (although we
would still not have been "on the road") and that the final ordeal of dealing
with defects was ahead and that this was the point where the highest number of candidates
Our original group was now seven although we were joined at
this point by a former Station Supervisor who had just been appointed as a Duty Manager
(Trains) and we duly presented ourselves at the given place and time. Yet another new
environment and another new set of Instructors.
We were given a welcome by the Duty Manager (Trains)
responsible for the training, who outlined what stood ahead of us over the next two weeks
and again emphasised the need for absolute commitment if we were to succeed again
this would mean much work in the evenings to review what had been done each day.
The first days were spent in the classroom at Edgware Road
where we built on the knowledge gained in the previous week, but getting down too much
more detail. We looked at Supply and distribution of traction current in more
detail; which circuits control what, the detailed make up of the braking systems, the
effect a "tripped" MCB would have on the train and so on.
All this was heading us in the direction of "Defect
Handling", that is, in very simple terms, what symptoms are going to present
themselves should there be a failure of the train so that you know how you go about
getting the thing to move again. Not only does a Train Operator need to know how to
diagnose the fault but also he or she should, in as many instances as possible, know what
actions to take single-handed to move the train as quickly as possible to minimise delays
to the trains that will inevitably be queuing up behind him or her. All this
must be done safely; causing no danger to passengers, staff or oneself.
There are many possible faults and resolutions. We were
taught the first basic checks to make when a train won't start which, again, carries an
acronym to help one remember the checks to make in this is "PLATO". This
is central to any fault, as it will give you the first clue as to what may be the problem.
PLATO comprise the following:
- Pilot Light are the doors closed? The Pilot Light is
the visual indication that a Train Operator gets in the cab to confirm the doors are
closed. If they arent, the train wont move. No Pilot Light can mean that
someone is preventing the doors to close, but can also be caused by a variety of things,
such as MCBs tripped or blown fuses amongst others.
- Air are the pressures sufficient to allow air governed
and operated equipment to function properly. If air is lost the "fail
safe" principle comes into effect and the train will not move until it is restored.
There is a gauge in the cab that tells you what the air pressures are and (in the C Stock
which of the two types of air used has been lost. No air can again be caused by a number
of things such as compressor failure or a burst on one of the lines that carries air
around the train.
- Traction Current is there any or has the
"juice" been switched off or has the train stopped over a Rail Gap and is unable
to pick up its needed supply. The first indication to check is whether the MA (Motor
Alternator) light is illuminated. If it is not, youve lost Traction Current to
the leading car (at least) and although there are batteries to "back up" the
Control Circuits it isnt unknown for these to fail, which will result in the cab
being "dead" and it being impossible to drive the train from that cab.
- Overloads these air electrical switches engaged by air
pressure that allows traction current to reach the motors, thus enabling the train to
move. If theyve "dropped out" the train isnt going to move. The
check is to push the Overload Set Button that will (or should) cause them to re-engage.
These are just your first checks and, depending what you do
(or do not) find should start guiding you down the next path to follow in resolving the
So we looked at possible causes and remedies for the faults.
How do you overcome a "burst", what can be done to overcome a main fuse failure,
what happens if compressors are failing to operate and much more this is really
only scraping the surface and trying to give the reader of feeling of what we were going
Finally, if all else fails, you learn about "Assisting
Train Procedures", that is if all else fails how can another train get you out of the
way, what trains are compatible, how the trains couple, do they couple fully or only
mechanically, how another driver can drive from the rear cab, how you communicate with the
driver of a training pushing from the rear and so on.
So, after about four days in the classroom, it was off to
Hammersmith Depot to put into practice what we had learnt. Again, the group was
split into two groups of four and a second Instructor used.
We saw what we had learnt in practice where under
seats different equipment was located such as door engines and how you can open the doors
if air pressure is lost, the valves to release brakes, compressor governor and cut-out
switches, auto couplers, Fault Isolation Switches and (as always) much more.
The Instructor would disappear, remove or isolate some piece
of equipment, return to the cab and then get one of us to "Open Up" the train
and try to move it. When it wouldnt we would go through our checks to diagnose
the problem and then set about rectifying it.
We spent four days doing this, dealing with a myriad of
faults and resolving them and, if we could not, describing what actions would be used
using another driver or train to assist and what actions we would need to take to enable
this to occur.
Once again, evenings were spent revising what we had learnt
and I know we all felt that there was just too much knowledge to retain and that we had no
chance to pass the final, critical, examination. It so happened that, for me, this
final hurdle coincided with my wifes study for an Open University examination and we
would both spend our evenings at the dining room table desperately revising, and becoming
more and more agitated and irritable with each other.
On the Wednesday of the second week we were told that the
great day (or days) had arrived and that Thursday and Friday would be taken up with the
final examinations that were on a one-to-one basis with the Instructors. As
two of our number would be remaining at Edgware Road, providing they passed this hurdle,
they would be the first to be examined. The rest of us were allowed to decide
amongst ourselves who would be examined when and I volunteered to go on the Thursday after
the Edgware Road candidate had been assessed.
We were told that the examination could last anything up to
three and a half hours and that no one had ever done it in less than one hour forty-five
minutes. On this basis I was told to report at 11.00 am for my review.
The exams would comprise four defects being set, or more if
you failed to handle any correctly and verbal questioning and discussion would check our
underpinning knowledge with the Instructor.
The Wednesday evening was spent trying desperately to
remember at least something of what I had been taught I was becoming increasingly
convinced that I had no chance and I would be back on the stations by Friday
morning. The family had a particularly rough evening from my state of near-panic and
when I finally went to bed all I could think of was Train Equipment and Defect Handling.
I dont remember sleeping too well and, by the time the great day
dawned, I had convinced myself that it wasnt even worth turning up but that I might
as well go through the motions having gone so far.
I arrived at Hammersmith Depot at about 9.30 and decided to
go and have breakfast in the Café in the station at least the condemned man would
have eaten a hearty breakfast. I went to the place where we had been told to
assemble to learn that the first two candidates were being examined. The air
of apprehension was palpable, even amongst the four who would not be examined until the
The first of our number returned after about two hours with a
large grin on his face hed passed. Unfortunately, his examiner
was not to be mine, so I was still waiting.
Midday came and went; one oclock came and went and I
was still waiting. Finally at about 1.30 my examiner appeared and apologised that it
had taken so long and that unfortunately my colleague had failed to pass. I have to
say this did nothing to lessen my feelings of dome and gloom. We made our way
to the train we were to use and after the examiner ran through again the way it would
progress, the examination began.
I was told to open up the train and, having done so, he
disappeared and set the first defect. On returning to the cab he told me to attempt
to move the train, which I did and, of course, was unable to do so. After the
initial panic and several deep breaths, I set about my checks and diagnosing the fault,
all the time describing what I was doing and why. Finally (thankfully) I got
movement and the fault was diagnosed and resolved all, much to my surprise, correctly and
safely. Questioning followed and I answered correctly and was told that Id
passed that one with no problem.
I started to feel a little better and, after a bit of general
chat, was asked if I was ready to go onto the next defect. So the scenario was
repeated a further three times and I was delighted at the end to be told that Id
passed with no problems at all. I was astounded to find that the process had taken
only one hour twenty minutes it had felt like a lifetime.
The feeling of elation was almost indescribable and I
returned to my remaining colleagues with a grin on my face from ear to ear, only stopping
to call my wife on my mobile to let her know all was well. It was, of course, now
about 3.15 and she was sure that something had gone drastically wrong and that Id
jumped off Hammersmith Bridge, never to be seen again.
Friday dawned and I went off to Hammersmith again, still on
cloud nine, to give my support to my remaining colleagues. All passed, so we had
only lost one other at this stage. We returned to Edgware Road to see the Training
Manager who told us what stood ahead over the next two weeks Job Training; finally
we would get to drive a train in passenger service, but, of course, still under the
watchful eye of an Instructor Operator.
But it was emphasised that we were now Train Operators and
would receive the full pay and benefits that go with the job we were almost there.
To the Top of this Page
Weeks Eight and Nine
The next two weeks would comprise of "Job
Training"; that is actual experience of operating trains in passenger service.
Those of use who were due to go to the District Line were told that we were to do our Job
Training from Edgware Road on the Hammersmith and City and Circle Lines on their routes
and on C69 Stock under the watchful eyes of their Instructor Operators.
This was because at the time the District Line were short of
Instructor Operators and as there is a fair degree of commonality on the routes. As
a District Line Train Operator you do also use the C69 Stock as well as the D78 Stock which most people associate with the District
Line. So this was a far from wasted period in the long term, as well as being
essential in the short term.
I believe this has now changed under the current training
programme and that the Train Equipment and Job Training that the current trainees receive
is dealt with by the specific Lines and Depots at which they will finally work. I
know Ive seen small groups of trainees going around with our Instructor Operators
and Ive spoken to a number of DROPs who have hitched a lift in my cab whilst
travelling to and from work.
We were allocated our duties, met with the Instructor
Operators (I/O) who were to have the dubious pleasure of our company for the next two
weeks and told when and where to report for our first day "on the road". I
duly met with my Instructor Operator for my first duty. This would start by taking a
train into service from the siding at Farringdon at the start of traffic on a cold October
morning. (Oh yes, been there, done that - Tubeprune)
The I/O showed me how to prepare the train, carrying out the
various tests and checks needed to ensure the train is fit for service. On
completion we duly "plunged" to alert the Signal Operator that we were ready to
go. So far so good.
The shunt signal cleared and the Instructor told me to
"wind up" and move off. Traction Brake Controller to Shunt, brakes released,
train rolled forward no motors!
The sidings at Farringdon are on a slight down hill slope and
the train did roll gently forward just enough for the wheels to pass over the
Insulated Block Joint which returns the signal to Danger and for the Trainstop (the device
which causes the trains brakes to be applied if a signal is passed at Danger) to
rise. Unfortunately the tripcock arm on the train had not passed the Trainstop and
we were promptly tripped, causing an emergency application of the brakes and the train
came to an abrupt halt. The one thing my Instructor had overlooked was to check that
the overloads were engaged; they werent so we had now "locked up" the
Circle Line Inner Road whilst the Instructor tried to raise the Line Controller on the
Eventually he did, explained what had occurred and, having
also spoken to the Signal Operator we were given authority to proceed into service.
All this had taken about ten minutes. Not a very auspicious start to my career as a
driver, but, as with all such occurrences, you learn from the experience; Ive never
since forgotten to check the overloads.
What had occurred was that, each night at the close of
traffic, each train is checked and tested by a technician who often trips various
equipment and circuits. The theory is that he should reset everything; theory and
practice are not always the same. Anyway, that was the only near disaster
encountered over the period that followed. I gradually started becoming more
confident in my abilities and confident in the routes we used. I moved trains in and
out of Hammersmith Depot and actually did most of the possible "moves" on the H
& C and Circle Lines over the next two weeks.
Road training is a whole new challenge; learning where
signals are sighted, which stations need to be approached with caution because of
gradients, short platforms, which routes you are looking to be set to make sure you
dont suddenly find yourself going to the wrong place. Add to this the fact
that youre now carrying passengers, making announcements and keeping passengers
informed of delays and so on. You are also trying to keep up with the timetable and
making sure the train is functioning correctly.
One of the greatest challenges driving a C69 Stock is the use
of the Westinghouse brake. This is a secondary braking system, which is used either
in the event of a failure of the "normal" brake system or in the event of some
unit supply defects. It takes some practice to become confident and accurate in its
use (I know, Im still trying.) but when used correctly is a satisfying
experience. By the end of the two weeks I was getting reasonably accurate with it
at least enough to get the OK from my Instructor.
When possible, I use it as a service brake, when Im
doing "locals", to try to increase my confidence and also to break up the
otherwise very routine tasks you inevitably do as a driver. It should be used
routinely on every trip to test it works correctly. This doesnt always happen
and if it hasnt been used for a while is slow to come into effect when applied which
does cause, to put it mildly, some concern as you wonder if it is ever going to get the
train to stop at all.
And so the two weeks came to an end. Our record
Books were duly written up and marked as necessary by our Instructors and DMT to finalise
our time at Edgware Road. Goodbyes were said to our Instructors and it was back to
Ashfield House on Monday Morning of Week Ten for the "Final Consolidation" test
pass this and it would be off to the District Line.
To the Top of this Page
Monday arrived, as did all the survivors of our original
group. The other group had also lost one candidate who had failed at the Train
Equipment Assessment stage. There was comparison between the experiences of the two
groups and, I have to say, I felt that my training at Edgware Road had been a little more
structured than my colleagues from the other group.
In discussion with candidates from earlier groups, we had
rather been given the impression that this final test would be a bit of a formality; I
have to say I dont agree that it was. The test was a combination of multiple
choice and written answers and the idea was to bring together elements of all that we had
learned in the previous nine weeks. There were questions on Train Equipment and
Operational Procedures, what you would do in given circumstances and so on.
Some of it seemed a very long time ago and you felt you had to really rack your brain to
recall what the answer was. But of course, we did, and all successfully concluded
the course. The final phase of our Training Records were signed off by the Trains
Training Team Leader and handed back to us individually with a handshake and
congratulations that we had completed the course.
I sensed that, even at this stage, there was a certain amount
of inter-line rivalry showing up. Whether this was because of our new found
confidence and achievement or of an "us and them" attitude Im not
sure. So now it really was off to our "home" depots to start the next
To the Top of this Page
Stock Training on the District Line
So now we were four. We travelled down to Acton Town
and reported to the Duty Managers' Offices to be told that we were expected and that one
of the Line's Instructor Operators would be with us later to outline what lay ahead for
the next few weeks. We also met with our Train Operations Manager (TOM) who formally
welcomed us to the Depot and to the Line and gave us a run down on what the domestic
arrangements at the Depot were and who we would need to speak to on a wide variety of
matters and covering all manner of things such as uniform issue and leave
arrangements. We spent some time sorting out things like lockers and meeting with
the Administration Staff who were most helpful in sorting out any bits of equipment and
uniform we needed and setting up our personal correspondence files and so on.
As promised, later in the day we met with one of the
Lines Instructor Operators. We were told that we would now undergo training on
the D78 Stock and C69 Stock (despite our previous training) before our Road Training
commenced and that we would also be trained and qualified on Railtrack Rules and
Regulations and Track Access as, of course, the District Line runs over Railtrack on the
Wimbledon and Richmond branches. We were also put down for Fire Refresher Training
to keep our existing licences up to date. All this would happen over the next two
weeks and, until it had occurred, we should spend our time doing "Road
Observation" that is finding yourself a driver and going out on the road
getting to know the routes.
So, apart from the days when we were training, this is what
was done. This time also gave the opportunity to meet with a number of your new
colleagues who, for the most part, were quite happy to let you travel with them and give
you the benefit of their knowledge and experience and (quite often) the benefit of their
opinions on the District Line in particular and London Underground in general.
The D78 Stock Training took place at Upminster Depot and we
covered similar ground as we had previously; looking at the circuits, braking systems etc.
in the classroom and then putting them into practice on the train. The D78 Stock is
not at all the C69 Stock. As it was a later design and build, many of the electrical
systems have been duplicated so that if one fails, the other takes over and, as a Train
Operator, you might never know theres a problem unless of course both circuits
fail. The braking system is different its an all-electrical system
known as Westcode and instead of there being main line and train line air pipes,
theres only main line air.
Additionally, in the cab, theres a piece of equipment
called the Train Monitoring System (TMS) that alerts the driver to when there is a fault
and where on the train it is located. The TMS has a number of controls that allow
defects to be dealt with from the cab, as opposed to having to physically locate equipment
somewhere on the train. The TMS even tells you which car is affected by items such as
unclosed doors or if a Passenger Emergency Alarm (PEA) is activated, allowing you to
investigate more quickly.
The process was then repeated for the C69 Stock, although I
will admit that as we done this same stuff so recently it did feel a little
unnecessary. Still, it should be remembered that we were now involved in the same
process is followed for any existing Train Operator transferring to the line indeed
there were such transferees who joined us. The Training all has to be documented and
signed off and certified, so procedures must be followed.
In fact the transferees were, at first, a little cynical
about being put in with a bunch of "DROPS", but they did later admit that they
were surprised at the knowledge we displayed and, in fact, felt a little intimidated but
what we knew and they felt they had forgotten. So having got all the necessary
certificates and courses out of the way, the next stage would be Road Training.
To the Top of this Page
Road Training on the District Line
The object of Road Training is to get you confident and
knowledgeable not only of physically driving the various Stocks used, but also with all
the moves, routes, reversing points, terminus routines and so on that you will encounter
on the Line. This would culminate with a "Road Test" with a Duty Manager
(Trains) who would then pass you out as being competent to drive a train in passenger
service on your own more on this later.
The Road Training on the District Line takes about three and
a half weeks and you're in the tender care of the same Instructor Operator throughout this
period, so you get to know him pretty well how he takes his tea/coffee, what he
eats for breakfast, lunch and dinner as you cover his various shifts over the
Additionally to the driving you "hike" the various
depots and sidings when all the routes, signals and moves specific to each are covered in
depth. On the District Line this alone takes up two whole days, as you have to cover
Ealing Common and Upminster Depots and the sidings at Barking, Parsons Green, Acton Town
(although rarely used, but can be used in an emergency) and Triangle Sidings (which are
between Earls Court and High Street Kensington). During the training you do
most of these moves, sometimes several times, as it is essential that you are familiar
with them all.
Once out on the road you also deal with the reversal of
trains at places such as Mansion House, Tower Hill, High Street Kensington, Kensington
Olympia, Whitechapel, Dagenham East, The "Yard" at Earls Court and using the bay
road platform at Barking. All of these are frequently used moves. The
Instructor will also brief you on, and question you about, less frequently used moves such
as reversing at South Kensington, Embankment, Gunnersbury, Wimbledon Park, Putney Bridge
and quite a few more which can be used in the event of service disruptions, when
instructed to do so by the Line Controller.
It was often emphasised that the District Line has more of
these moves and also more controlled signals, than any other Line on London
Underground. You learn which signal cabins control which areas, the cabin codes for
these cabins and the instructor will get you to go through and describe the moves as
youre on the road. Again, the amount of information coming at you is immense
and you know that youre going to questioned on it by the DMT when the day of your
Road Test dawns. Before the Road Test itself there is also another computer based
test, this time specific to line knowledge again it must be passed to demonstrate
that you are confident with route knowledge.
The Instructor will tailor the shifts you cover to ensure
that you become familiar with preparing a train for service all the checks you need
to make to ensure its fitness to carry passengers, its entry into service from all
possible locations (particularly in Ealing Common Depot where there is a wide variety of
options) and for the stabling of trains at the end of traffic. All the while this is
going on you continue to hone your driving skills; braking techniques, public address
announcements and many other things as situations present themselves. You
also get to know were facilities such as tea points, toilets, good coffee shops and cafes
are to be found. All essential to the comfort and well being of any self-respecting
Finally the day arrives for your Road Test and you are told
when, where and to whom you are to present yourself for this final step before being let
loose on the public on your own.
To the Top of this Page
The Road Test
This is an experience not dissimilar to taking your Driving
Test for a car or whatever. The DMT is the examiner, you the trembling, nervous
candidate. The experience starts with the DMT asking you something over fifty
questions covering all aspects of the Line, getting you to describe how you would make
various moves, what you would do in given circumstances and so on. He will
then feed back any areas he may feel that you need to concentrate on, assuming youve
demonstrated enough knowledge to satisfy him thus far.
He then looks at your driving skills. My test
comprised driving a C69 Stock down from Earls Court to Wimbledon and, in the process
demonstrating, every aspect of driving in passenger service. You also demonstrate
your use of the Westinghouse Brake fortunately the train I had for my test had a
good one. You then return from Wimbledon to Earls Court driving a D78 Stock, once
again handling the train as you would in passenger service. Indeed, both trains were
in passenger service the DMT simply gets the Train Operator of these trains to hand
over the train to you he remains in the cab, it is after all his train, so not only
do you have the DMT watching your every move, but another driver too.
We arrived back at Earls Court and returned to his office to
hear the final verdict. A common yardstick used by many Instructors and DMTs
in assessing your abilities is "would I be happy letting my family or friends be in
the care of this individual?" This sounds simplistic but I think theres
always a gut feeling to this process. An individual can describe and demonstrate all
the knowledge in the world but that alone wont necessarily make him or her a safe
He gave me a couple of points to "swot up" on which
he said were common items of any new driver to the line due to its complexity but
said Id passed without problems and, indeed, praised a number of aspects of my
driving. He signed off the various papers and handed me my temporary licence, which
I would then need to take to the TOM at Acton Town for him to counter sign.
So now it was back to Acton Town, to get the Licence signed
and to be allocated duties from the following day for the rest of the week.
These were duly done and from tomorrow I would be on my own at last, the training
(but not the learning, I hasten to add) was over.
To the Top of this Page
The Sweat Day and the First Week
Your first day out on your own is known as your "Sweat
Day" and rightly so. For the first time youre going to be out there on
your own, putting everything that youve learnt into practice for the first time
no one to ask, no one in the cab with you it is an awesome feeling. My
first duty was a late turn, preparing a train in Ealing Common depot and taking it into
service for the evening "peak".
I arrived in plenty of time the last thing I wanted
was to be late and have to rush. Fortunately all went to plan, the train was duly
prepared, put into service and I came to the end of my "first half" without
dramas, crisis or mishaps. I was starting to feel a little more relaxed. I
enjoyed my meal break and, in fact, looked forward to picking up my second train, which
would be in service until the close of traffic in my hands. Again all went
well; I think I even arrived at Ealing Common Depot on time and made my way home, very
tired but happy that Id got through it all.
Over the remainder of that first week all continued well
enough and I gradually began to relax a little. However, situations still arose that
I hadnt encountered before and a few gave me a nasty start by close encounters with
signals in combinations that I hadnt encountered before and these came as timely
reminders that I was still learning and still had much to learn and remember.
To the Top of this Page
The Next Few Weeks
Over the next few weeks new situations began to present
themselves for the first time. One morning when I was "spare" at Acton
Town, a Tannoy call came over for me to report to the DMTs office with my bag (an
indication that hes got a job for you right then) as quickly as possible.
On arriving, he asked "hows your knowledge on Train
Equipment?" I responded "OK, I think, but Ive got my book (every driver is
issued with a book covering defects particular to their Stock) with me."
There was a train stalled at Chiswick Park and I was to go
down to act as the Assisting Driver and help the Train Operator get the thing moving
again. On went my Hi-Vi (the High Visibility waistcoat that we all have to wear when on or
about the track) and I jumped in with the Driver of the first Piccadilly Line Train that
was going east and asked the driver to "draw up" alongside our stalled train, so
I could assist my colleague.
On arrival I found that the train wouldnt move; the
driver had broken all the sealed switches on the TMS and still couldnt get it to
budge. He asked me to go down to the rear cab and try from there. On arrival at the
back, I found the TMS in the same situation. I spoke to my colleague over the cab-to-cab
telephone and confirmed I couldnt get movement.
I told him that I was going to set all the TMS switches back
to their normal position and see what the situation then was. This I did, and then
went through the PLATO checks described earlier. No air pressure. Out
with the defect book the indication was of a Mainline burst. I tripped and
reset the compressor MCBs in the cab still nothing. I told my
colleague this, and we agreed to meet in the middle of the train (a D78 Stock is
effectively two trains coupled together) and we would check out the indications from the
shunting panels on either unit. This we did no air on either side. We
returned to the front cab. On arrival, we reset all the switches on the TMS and, lo
and behold, the same fault was indicated. My colleague tripped and reset the
Compressor MCB and much to our relief, the compressors started charging and air pressure
was restored he could move the train.
As he wasnt sure why the problem had presented itself,
it was agreed with the mobile DMT (who had now arrived on the scene) that the train would
go out of service, run empty to West Kensington and reverse there (the first available
point to do so) to go back to Acton Town for a "changeover". This was all
duly achieved and Id been involved in my first defect "for real". It
was an interesting experience but I was relieved it was not "my" defect but gave
a good introduction to such an event.
Over the next couple of weeks I had experience of my first
Passenger Alarms. The first was for a passenger being taken ill on my train at Upton
Park with an epileptic fit. This was resolved with the help of Station Staff and the
Emergency Services but which, of course, did hold the service up for about twenty minutes.
The next was a suspect package on my train at Stamford Brook
only a couple of days after the terrorist bomb at the BBC at White City. I
was on my way back to Earls Court from Richmond on the last leg of my first half looking
forward to my breakfast, when the peace was shattered by the PEA going off just as I drew
to a halt.
I rapidly contacted the Line Controller on the radio, telling
him I had a PEA and that I was going to investigate. On leaving my cab I could see
passengers waving their arms frantically towards the rear of the train. On
arrival, they told me there was an unattended item. On investigation, I was not
happy that it was innocent and evacuated the train and told passengers to leave the
station as quickly as possible.
I called the Line Controller from the Autophone on the
platform, told him what the situation was and requested assistance from station staff and
the emergency services as soon as possible. I closed up the train, apart from the
suspect car, with the help of the station supervisor and also made my way down to the
booking hall where I helped the station supervisor keep the public informed, pending the
arrival of the Bomb Squad. Eventually they arrived after about twenty-five
minutes. By this time both the District and Piccadilly Lines were shut down in both
On investigation, the Police were able to give the "All
Clear" the item was innocent but they agreed with me that they hadnt
liked the look of it either on first examination, and that Id done absolutely the
right thing and "if you get any hassle refer them to us!" I didnt
and eventually got to Earls Court for my delayed breakfast. Of course, incidents
such as these are few and far between and, for the most part, the job is routine.
To the Top of this Page
If youve managed to reach this far, congratulations
I never intended it to be so long when I offered to write it, but "Ive
started, so Ill finish!" I hope this gives some insight in what its
like to go through this process and I must say I do enjoy my work. If
youve never done shift work, it does take some acclimatisation and youll need
to find your own way of coping with the ups and downs of it. Each shift has its own
advantages and disadvantages. Some Train Operators swap shifts so as to do only
"earlys" or "lates"; I just follow my own roster, but
thats my choice.
As I hope Ive got over, the trainings long and
hard, but if you get through the selection process you should be able to do it. If
you do, I wish you good luck and, who knows, perhaps one day Ill see you "On
Now that I've finished this missive Id like to
emphasise that Ive written all of it from memories of over twelve months ago and I
apologise to any of my colleagues with whom I trained, or those who carried out or were
responsible for my training, if my recollections have faded, become distorted or
inaccurate. If Ive become confused or Ive recalled events wrongly
Im sorry. Each and every one of you are characters and I recall these events
with great fondness and whenever we bump into each other the memories are only of teamwork
and camaraderie. Youre all a great bunch of people.