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ASLEF strikes 5th-8th April weekend

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jettofab

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Surely there is a computer programme that has the requirements and has spat out the most efficient working for drivers?
Yes, but it doesn't always produce good diagrams. You can have super efficient diagrams on paper, with bare minimum breaks, crew going straight from one train to another with only essential walking time etc but in practice they often fall over due to late running etc and the whole thing goes to pot. Sometimes it is more efficient to program more down time. The problem is the computer can't distinguish when it should do this and when it doesn't need to.
 
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dk1

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Which is probably why the poster gave the practice at the other TOC/depot as an example of an archaic working practice still in use, at that TOC/depot.

The set of archaic working practices still in use will, of course, vary from TOC to TOC. For a specific TOC, the archaic working practices could include those working practices that, at that TOC, have remained unchanged since British Rail days even though they have been replaced or updated at (one or more of the) other TOCs.
Sometimes the old ways are the best. Keeps it fair for all employees. Nothing has changed so it doesn't need altering.
 

Facing Back

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No they don’t just sit around. They can only be used when all normal booking out procedures for the existing establishment of drivers have been exhausted. They would only be in that link a few weeks/months.
I'm sorry, I'm trying to keep up with the terminology as I'm genuinely interested but I didn't quite understand that.

By "They can only be used when all normal booking out procedures for the existing establishment of drivers have been exhausted", does that mean that they can only be used when all normal processes for offering overtime to the existing drivers has been tried, or something else?

If they don't sit around when not driving - what do they do?

I don't quite get the concept of a link - sorry to be a pain - what does "they would only be in that link for a few weeks/months" mean?

It isn’t “archaic” though, it’s just an arrangement that works (and not in the way that @Facing Back had understood). The original poster who brought up “archaic” working practices hasn’t actually been able to name any; likely because they’ve read some nonsense in the Daily Mail.
I guessed that I hadn't properly understood it. I'd be interested and grateful if you could correct my understanding - my current understanding meets my definition of archaic.

I accept that its rare as every other post about driver numbers is saying that there are too few for a variety of reasons
 

nuneatonmark

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Please expand on the "Archaic working practices" that concern you, perhaps we can explain the whys and wherefores of these practices or dismiss them as not based on facts.
The railway is 7 days a week, often 24 hours a day or near. Tain drivers regular salary should reflect that as normal, none of this Sunday working 'optional', for example, and enough drivers recruited to man services properly. £600 from Avanti just to be able to run a 'normal' service? Ridiculous.
 

manmikey

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The railway is 7 days a week, often 24 hours a day or near. Tain drivers regular salary should reflect that as normal, none of this Sunday working 'optional', for example, and enough drivers recruited to man services properly. £600 from Avanti just to be able to run a 'normal' service? Ridiculous.
So there are three types of Sunday working, there are no issues with Sundays in the majority of TOCs.

1. Sundays in the working week.

Train crew work Sundays as a matter of course but they will have a day off during the week in lieu of the Sunday worked. Nothing Archaic to see here. Sunday service is accomplished.

2. Committed Sundays.

Train crew are contracted to work so many Sundays a year, pay is over time as Sunday working is additional to the normal Woking week. Nothing Archaic to see here. Sunday service accomplished but cheaper for the TOC to run than (1)


3. Voluntary Sundays.

TOCs rely entirely on traincrew volunteers for Sunday service. This is gross mismanagement by the TOC in a problem of their own making in trying to get a Sunday service run on this cheap with fewer train crew. Even so this is neither Archaic nor traoncrews fault. Unless you are suggesting that people are forced to work their days off? does the industry you work in force you to work your days off?..now that really would be archaic.

The £600 a day Avanti is indeed ridiculous, it's it is ridiculous that a TOC has had it's head in the sand and not dealt with this long term problem before now.
 

infobleep

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A well paid job that you need no degree either. They also can't be bothered with getting upset with an irrelevant government who will be kicked out soon. Two 'organisations' who deserve each other.
I did an undergraduate degree in Cartography with Geography. One had to study two subjects at tge University. After a period of working as a professional Cartogtapher, I did a masters in Geographical Information System. I now use that knowledge, along with the knowledge from my first degree in my current local government job.

Does this make me more skilled and better than a train driver? What do you think @nuneatonmark?
That happens everywhere in every industry. I've lost count of the number of times I as a high cost contract IT consultant have spent significant time doing things like data cleansing and loading, and sometimes even data keying, when a lower wage clerk could easily be doing that job.

I don't mind doing it, it's a bit of a break. But it's an incredibly expensive way to get that work done.
I was once doing a digital caputre of information held on paper maps.

I was contracting at the time and it involved the need to photocopy card records containing textual information, as the actual cards were still being used, so I couldn't hold on to them. Ideally they would have got someone else to do it at a cheaper price but there wasn't anyone so I did it, at obviously a greater project cost.

I'll put it another way. You drive a train from a commuter belt station into a London terminus and have a 40-minute wait before working your next train to another destination. That 40 minutes wait is not booked for an official break of any kind. You could be made more productive by driving your next train to a different destination after only 20 minutes' wait. And so on.
That has got me wondering. On the Guildford to Waterloo via Epsom services, are drivers sat at Guildford, waiting to return to London via Epsom or do they switch units to driver a service via Cobham?

Actually, I'm mistaken as the via Epsom service from Waterloo returns out as a via Cobhham service, 27 minutes later.

What I should have said was does a driver, arriving in on a train from Waterloo via Cobham, wait to return to London via Epsom or do they join another service? A train from Waterloo via Cobham arrives x02 and departs back to Waterloo via Epsom at x45. This is during the day Monday to Saturday, with variations at certain times of the day. That is a 43 minute gap.
 
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muz379

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2. Committed Sundays.

Train crew are contracted to work so many Sundays a year, pay is over time as Sunday working is additional to the normal Woking week. Nothing Archaic to see here. Sunday service accomplished but cheaper for the TOC to run than (1)
It doesn't always accomplish the job tbf , I know at least 1 toc that does not have spare coverage for its sundays . The only booked sundays are actual driving turns and as far as I remember ferry turns .

So you still end up with uncovered turns because drivers with booked sundays are off sick/off trains /in the middle of their annual leave and there is not the required level of appetite for other people to work additional sundays .

If you have committed sundays with a senisble ratio of spare coverage then it may work better .
 

Nicholas Lewis

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So there are three types of Sunday working, there are no issues with Sundays in the majority of TOCs.

1. Sundays in the working week.

Train crew work Sundays as a matter of course but they will have a day off during the week in lieu of the Sunday worked. Nothing Archaic to see here. Sunday service is accomplished.

2. Committed Sundays.

Train crew are contracted to work so many Sundays a year, pay is over time as Sunday working is additional to the normal Woking week. Nothing Archaic to see here. Sunday service accomplished but cheaper for the TOC to run than (1)


3. Voluntary Sundays.

TOCs rely entirely on traincrew volunteers for Sunday service. This is gross mismanagement by the TOC in a problem of their own making in trying to get a Sunday service run on this cheap with fewer train crew. Even so this is neither Archaic nor traoncrews fault. Unless you are suggesting that people are forced to work their days off? does the industry you work in force you to work your days off?..now that really would be archaic.

The £600 a day Avanti is indeed ridiculous, it's it is ridiculous that a TOC has had it's head in the sand and not dealt with this long term problem before now.
What is AWC Sunday arrangement?
 

Bald Rick

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Which is ASLEFs position. Hence why RDW deals are time limited and agreed for specific reasons. ASLEF want depots to be staffed at full establishment.

And yet lots of depots that are well over establishment have regular RDW requirements.


The £600 a day Avanti is indeed ridiculous

As a headline it does indeed look silly. However, as a proportion of base salary, I understand it is lower than the TPE arrangements, and not much more in cash terms.


What is AWC Sunday arrangement?

Inside, AIUI.
 

Ashfordian6

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Yes, but it doesn't always produce good diagrams. You can have super efficient diagrams on paper, with bare minimum breaks, crew going straight from one train to another with only essential walking time etc but in practice they often fall over due to late running etc and the whole thing goes to pot. Sometimes it is more efficient to program more down time. The problem is the computer can't distinguish when it should do this and when it doesn't need to.

Thanks for reply.

So despite what has been suggested by a couple of posters, drivers are already as efficient and productive they can be, when weighed up against the risk of late running/disruption/etc.
 

Bald Rick

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So despite what has been suggested by a couple of posters, drivers are already as efficient and productive they can be, when weighed up against the risk of late running/disruption/etc.

That varies, widely, between operators, links, routes and even individual drivers.
 

Krokodil

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The railway is 7 days a week, often 24 hours a day or near. Tain drivers regular salary should reflect that as normal, none of this Sunday working 'optional', for example, and enough drivers recruited to man services properly. £600 from Avanti just to be able to run a 'normal' service? Ridiculous.
It's not the drivers' or ASLEF's fault that the government (even before the current mess the franchising point scoring discouraged bringing Sundays inside the week) would rather not employ enough staff to cover the service. If the government wants Sundays inside the week, they simply have to start recruiting. Too expensive so they don't.
 

DJP78

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Without being able to peruse nitty gritty figures, impossible to gauge value for money.

Employers like overtime if enough people volunteer to keep services running. Full time substantive costs are very considerable compared to paying overtime.

Likely this arrangement is temporary to help recover service levels in the immediate term.

Welcome to a privatised rail industry. My understanding is that this was negotiated by all stakeholders including ASLEF, TOC and Gov.

Anyone outraged should look at the profits being made by the rolling stock companies, shareholder dividends and some of the senior railway wages kicking about. That’s far worthier of outcry.

The real issue is that problems at Avanti have been allowed to fester to the extent an offer of this magnitude is felt necessary. Perhaps if this dispute had been resolved by the Gov, proper planning and training had been in place, their staffing levels would be commensurate with their service level ambitions.

Trouble is, train driver bashing is very much in-season, so I guess we’ll just have to don our tin hats
 
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43066

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That would be far too logical.

Not really, when it’s remembered that the legislation is unworkable, just as many of us predicted, and was only brought in to make the government look good. If you want services to be reliable, you should want the dispute to be resolved.

And yet lots of depots that are well over establishment have regular RDW requirements.

In which case it’s jolly decent of ASLEF to help the TOCs out by sanctioning RDW!
 
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DJP78

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Establishment is a tricky one. Like trying to forecast the weather 2pm on a Thursday, 6 weeks in advance.

Training times are around 2 years from through the door to fully route & traction competent at our TOC. That’s about the norm.

When is someone likely to retire?? Possibly develop medical issues?? Recruitment teams don’t have crystal balls.

Always going to be some slack in the numbers of drivers. Impossible to have the perfect number of drivers at any one time.

Either wait til resignations submitted and face a shortfall in drivers whilst replacements are in training. Or proactively recruit, hedging bets based on driver demographics and run risk of short term over-establishment. On a hiding to nothing in either case.
 
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Bald Rick

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In which case it’s jolly decent of ASLEF to help the TOCs out by sanctioning RDW!

Well we will have disagree about the *need* for a union to agree whether any individual can choose to work additional hours. It is a peculiarity of certain railway grades, and I’ve never seen it anywhere else in the world of work.
 

43066

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Always going to be some slack in the numbers of drivers. Impossible to have the perfect number of drivers at any one time.

Invariably almost no slack in my experience. At my place there is RDW galore, and jobs regularly go uncovered. Yet we have lots of freshly recruited qualified drivers who are sitting around doing nothing, on full driver money, simply because there’s nobody to train them.

Qualified drivers should be able to pass out within 12 - 16 weeks of starting on our route, but many of the recent recruits will be approaching a year with the company before driving on their own, a timescale more akin to street to seat trainees.

There’s actually quite a bit more I could say, but I’d better not! Suffice it to say the level of dysfunction in this industry has to be seen to be believed at times.


Well we will have disagree about the *need* for a union to agree whether any individual can choose to work additional hours. It is a peculiarity of certain railway grades, and I’ve never seen it anywhere else in the world of work.

Rightly or wrongly the need is very much there on the railway, given the industry’s longstanding arrangements, which I suspect you will now agree (perhaps grudgingly) don’t show any signs of changing.

I’ve honestly never encountered an industry so utterly incompetent at predicting and managing its staffing levels (there’s plenty of incompetence in other areas of railway management, but that one stands out). Of course another irony is that ASLEF do a lot of the heavy lifting for the TOCs in terms of rostering etc, and the idea that TOCs could do it without rep involvement is laughable.
 
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dctraindriver

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And yet lots of depots that are well over establishment have regular RDW requirements.




As a headline it does indeed look silly. However, as a proportion of base salary, I understand it is lower than the TPE arrangements, and not much more in cash terms.




Inside, AIUI.
You fully know why depots over established have a free day agreement…..
 

Bald Rick

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You fully know why depots over established have a free day agreement…..

I know they do, and the reasons, yes.



Well we can agree that, rightly or wrongly, the need is very much there on the railway given the longstanding arrangements, which don’t show any signs of changing.

I agree entirely of the need for rest day working and overtime. Its the same in just about every other sector of the economy. What I don’t agree is the need for an agreement between union and company to enable it. That is not the same as just about every other sector of the economy. Let people choose for themselves.
 

DJP78

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Invariably almost no slack in my experience. At my place there is RDW galore, and jobs regularly go uncovered. Yet we have lots of freshly recruited qualified drivers who are sitting around doing nothing, on full driver money, simply because there’s nobody to train them.
These TOCs seem to enter death spirals imo. Once driver numbers reach critical levels, replenishing them becomes ever more difficult. The more trainees needed, the more mentors, instructors and assessors are needed.

If only they kept on top of numbers on an ongoing basis and focused on expediting trainee programmes.
 

43066

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What I don’t agree is the need for an agreement between union and company to enable it. That is not the same as just about every other sector of the economy. Let people choose for themselves.

That’s a perfectly reasonable viewpoint.

I suppose an alternative perspective might be that we know 95%+ of drivers belong to ASLEF, who officially stand for no overtime, so members can’t really complain if it’s removed. Removal of overtime, or the threat thereof, also adds to the union’s bargaining power, so arguably benefits members overall, even if there are periods of needing to go without (and nobody should be reliant on overtime).

Then there’s the reality that the choice cuts both ways. Even where a RDW agreement is in place, as it is at the vast majority of TOCs, the choice to do overtime may still not be there if enough drivers are recruited to cover the work without it. There’s no obligation on the TOCs to provide overtime.

These TOCs seem to enter death spirals imo. Once driver numbers reach critical levels, replenishing them becomes ever more difficult. The more trainees needed, the more mentors, instructors and assessors are needed.

Agreed. Although my depot seems to be in more of a Kamikaze death dive, currently! We’ve had rapid expansion of numbers due to retirements and a new fleet on the horizon, but the process hasn’t really been managed properly (or at all).
 

Krokodil

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I agree entirely of the need for rest day working and overtime. Its the same in just about every other sector of the economy. What I don’t agree is the need for an agreement between union and company to enable it. That is not the same as just about every other sector of the economy. Let people choose for themselves.
There's nothing stopping an individual from volunteering to work their rest day in the absence of a collective agreement. They wouldn't be represented if an incident happened while doing it of course, but then not all crews are union members anyway.
 

DJP78

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What I don’t agree is the need for an agreement between union and company to enable it. That is not the same as just about every other sector of the economy. Let people choose for themselves.,
I'm very supportive of unions and believe in the need for collective bargaining.

If the members allowed employers the means to circumnavigate the union, and go direct to the workforce, we'd be more exposed and open to potential unfair practices. One of the reasons we have such a strong union, is because our main T's & C's are dealt with by ASLEF. The rest day agreements are negotiated by ASLEF, or LLC reps, and sanctions to work or withdraw rest day working, are issued accordingly. It's not necessarily the perfect solution, but I'd rather sit behind a strong union, than go it alone.

It certainly keeps the employers in check.

It's often an alien concept to those who are anti-union, pro free market liberalists, or those who work in top down non-unionised workplaces, whereby the employee has no representation. Perhaps if more people formed unions and then backed their union, more people would benefit from stronger, more generous T's & C's.

I suppose an alternative perspective might be that we know 95%+ of drivers belong to ASLEF, who officially stand for no overtime, so members can’t really complain if it’s removed. Removal of overtime, or the threat thereof, also adds to the union’s bargaining power, so arguably benefits members overall, even if there are periods of needing to go without (and nobody should be reliant on overtime).
Spot on. You got there first ;)
 
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dk1

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At least you at Greater Anglia can be bothered to run a skeleton service on strike days.

Yes some mainline & Southend services operate as driver managers are permitted to drive trains here.

I'm sorry, I'm trying to keep up with the terminology as I'm genuinely interested but I didn't quite understand that.

By "They can only be used when all normal booking out procedures for the existing establishment of drivers have been exhausted", does that mean that they can only be used when all normal processes for offering overtime to the existing drivers has been tried, or something else?

If they don't sit around when not driving - what do they do?

I don't quite get the concept of a link - sorry to be a pain - what does "they would only be in that link for a few weeks/months" mean?


I guessed that I hadn't properly understood it. I'd be interested and grateful if you could correct my understanding - my current understanding meets my definition of archaic.

I accept that its rare as every other post about driver numbers is saying that there are too few for a variety of reasons

Those drivers who are sitting spare in the qualified link would usually do the odd parts of another drivers job to share things out a little and keep them refreshed on their routes. The duty traincrew managers would sort that all out day to day.

We have 6 links at my depot ranging from 4 to around 30 drivers in each. The work varies from depot duties to locals then locals plus some mainline to almost all mainline but no night shifts. Drivers progress through the links. A driver retiring, leaving or job sharing with another creates a vacancy so everybody in the bottom 5 links move up when their time comes. The union agrees the establishment numbers with the train operator then they must stick to that. Rest day working agreements allow for training to take place and the operators are obliged to fill all vacancies.
 
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