BBC SPAD increase story - “Survivor fears safety 'could be slipping'”

Discussion in 'Infrastructure & Stations' started by Meerkat, 5 Oct 2019.

  1. Class 170101

    Class 170101 Established Member

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    Remember though that their unions surrendered some of their conditions for greater pay. I have worked shifts so know how disrupted sleeping patterns can become.

    I just get fed up when unions want something they play the safety card and try to get a condition back previously sold away without offering anything in return.
     
  2. Aivilo

    Aivilo Member

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    Finishing at 2am Sunday morning and being in at 3am Monday morning could be a contributing factor. 12 hour rest periods don't come into it when your going from one extreme to another
     
  3. bramling

    bramling Established Member

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    Course there is, however at the end of the day all companies have an attendance policy, and in the real world it’s a case of:

    Driver turns up at the desk feeling fatigued and raises this with manager, response being “are you saying you’re unfit for duty?”. Driver replies with a yes, and is politely told that he’s sick.

    Beyond a possibly irritated manager who has had to mess around trying to cover the duty at zero notice, that’s all okay - until the Driver has flagged up for breaching the attendance policy, which in some cases can occur for as little as two sickness spells in 6 months.

    Having now received a warning, the above interaction is quite possibly going to change, with the response to the manager’s question being an iteration of “okay I’ll struggle through, I’ll probably be okay”.

    I don’t have an answer to the problem of how an operator can run a fatigue policy which doesn’t allow piss-takers to take advantage, so to be fair it’s not an easy nut to crack.
     
  4. Bevan Price

    Bevan Price Established Member

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    I used that train earlier in the day at the Liverpool end; the 3 x153 formation was a scratch set turned out by Nottingham to go to Liverpool, because of delays south of Nottingham - a better option than cancelling a train. On the return trip from Liverpool, the conductor had announced that passengers for beyond Nottingham would have to change there to a different train. Not that it excuses a SPAD, of course.
     
  5. Killingworth

    Killingworth Established Member

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    And I hardly need to guess that the train was late through Castlefield with the driver doing his best to coax enough out of 3x153s to meet a 2x158 expectation. Still should have
    stopped, but it's understandable how it probably came about. Explained rather than fully excused.
     
  6. big bus driver

    big bus driver New Member

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    The elephant in the room for all TOC's/FOC's is fatigue. We all know it is the primary root-cause of most incidents, but there seems to be no appetite to modernise this aspect of the railway.

    This is something of a red herring, as it is the company who manage/control driver fatigue; if they took the issue seriously they would want to minimise it rather than making it worse, by eroding away fatigue preventing conditions for an extra 5 pence per hour.

    At my TOC, about 1/3 of the early shifts are 03xx starts, with a growing number of them in excess of 9hrs long. Later starting shifts are shorter. The 01/02/03xx finishes on a Sunday morning roll into an 03xx start on a Monday so as to maximise the availability of sunday volunteers in other parts of the link. My Sundays are committed so even if I'm knackered, I still have to come in and do the overtime if I can't persuade a mate to do it for me, even if I've told the company I don't want to do it. I'm on a disciplinary for breach of contract if I don't show up.

    Rostering is getting noticably worse at my TOC, and the company attitude seems to be I am paid enough so should be able to manage my fatigue. I don't think anyone in the driving grade will be that surprised by these statistics, and even with more and more technology helping us to drive our trains more safely, it should be alarming to all that the trend for SPADs is heading in the opposite direction.
     
  7. MS805

    MS805 Member

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    It strikes me that it would be better to vary the shifts less frequently. We have a long weekend every three weeks, with a Wednesday and Thursday off halfway between. Why not do just earlies or lates the whole time between those long weekends? Or, at least, from the long weekend to the midweek rest days? Swapping over at the weekend is entirely arbitrary and doesn't in any way coincide with the overall pattern of work. In one go you lose that "late to early over a Sunday" thing and covering Sundays also becomes easier, because everyone can fit one in if desired.
     
  8. Southern Dvr

    Southern Dvr Member

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    I feel I have to defend slightly the accusations of ASLEF and drivers selling themselves out. I’m sure you recall the GTR vs ASLEF disputes of 2016 but you’ll perhaps not know that all those employed are still suffering the consequences. ASLEF has very little negotiating position with the TOC in question due to the fear of another court case and hefty fine. Due process is carried out with roster scrutiny etc but there are countless ‘fail to agrees’ on the table.

    The reason the above is relevant is because ASLEF don’t have a great deal of input into driver training courses etc.

    The pressures of turning out qualified drivers en masse is a problem, the courses take less time, there is less knowledge and a lot more pressure on the Driver Instructors to do a lot of the work that previously would have been done by the training schools.

    TPWS has no doubt saved many lives and prevented many serious accidents over the now 20 years (I think) that we’ve had it for it. However it also allowed the drivers job to become ‘de-skilled’ which means now things like a SPAD can be down to ‘non technical skills’ as much as a deficiency in technical skills.
     
  9. HSTEd

    HSTEd Established Member

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    We are now unfortunately stuck in the part of the automation curve where normal operations are automated sufficiently to degrade staff readiness/skilling but not fully automated, so unusual situations can lead to mistakes.

    This is a similar problem to that seen in airliners.
     
  10. theageofthetra

    theageofthetra Established Member

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    Exactly how it works.
     
  11. Class 170101

    Class 170101 Established Member

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    But how would suggest modernising it without costing money? Or if there is a cost would you accept less take home pay?

    This is something of a red herring, as it is the company who manage/control driver fatigue; if they took the issue seriously they would want to minimise it rather than making it worse, by eroding away fatigue preventing conditions for an extra 5 pence per hour.
     
  12. Class 170101

    Class 170101 Established Member

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    I would totally agree with this as in my experience it was the swinging from earlies to lates and back that made things worse. I would further argue why can't drivers 'pair off' so each of the drivers only does early turns or only late turns?
     
  13. Aivilo

    Aivilo Member

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    I think better rostering would help.

    No extreme changes in shift patterns unless a two day break between. So with my example of a 2am finish Sunday morning instead of booking on for an early Monday you do a late early or middle.

    Shift work is something you never get used but going from one extreme to another is simply asking for trouble.

    I don't know if they're still in place but depots on the tube have a syndicate/maffia. Shifts and rest days are sorted by them. Worked great
     
  14. whoosh

    whoosh Member

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    Unions don't always want to sell conditions. Sometimes the TOC wants to buy a condition and won't offer a deal which doesn't include surrendering it. Then you'll get the % of the deal plastered all over the press - the whole amount if it's a multi-year deal, to try and shame the drivers and put pressure on to accept it. Even though the condition might be worth a lot more money than what's being offered. None of the media or public understands, or can be bothered to understand, the intricacies of it - it just looks like a massive no strings £££££££ offer to them.
    It certainly isn't all the union's way.
     
  15. big bus driver

    big bus driver New Member

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    Hi Class 170101, I can't recall many relevant conditions of mine being sold in the last decade yet my fatigue has got far worse for the above mentioned reasons. Most drivers take personal fatigue management very seriously, but it is very hard getting to sleep at 1700 on a summer's eve for that 0100 alarm call having gone to bed the day before at 0300 after a long late shift etc etc.

    I'm not a fan of linking salary to safety as I personally don't believe there is a correlation. The ORR produce comprehensive guidance on fatigue management which the TOCs do not follow. Only when it becomes mandatory will they remove their heads from the sand.
     
  16. Class 170101

    Class 170101 Established Member

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    Err no booking on before 05:00 no signing off after 01:30 and limited numbers after midnight, therefore night turns would be higher would be some I'm aware of.
     
  17. Wychwood93

    Wychwood93 Member

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    At the risk of having a brick through my window! - I have done shift work both on the railway and off of it - you know what you are going to do! Do not grumble! You agreed to it in the first place - how simple is it? Very much like a Thames Trains driver in the early 90's who was happy to do driving, didn't like the driving in the dark bit - I worked for Thames in Reading at the time.
     
  18. Class 170101

    Class 170101 Established Member

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    I agree with this and especially the sentence 'you agreed to it in the first place'
     
  19. Wychwood93

    Wychwood93 Member

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    Thank you - no bricks yet!
     
  20. vikingdriver

    vikingdriver Member

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    I think the seriousness of this topic has been lost here which is unfortunate. Drivers not liking shift work is not the issue.
     
  21. MS805

    MS805 Member

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    We have a number of pairs doing this already, although there is usually more demand to stick to earlies, especially for people with children - school run and all that, I guess.
     
  22. MS805

    MS805 Member

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    I sort of half agree and half disagree: my take would be that train crew have indeed signed up for a job with shifts and so shouldn't moan about the fact of that but, equally, it's good to do everything reasonably possible to maximise both safety (1st) and work-life balance (2nd).

    (Edit: While bearing in mind that the 2nd can influence the first.)
     
  23. Dieseldriver

    Dieseldriver Member

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    Agreed! We all signed up to shift work (exceptionally erratic shift work at that) but the issue here isn't work life balance, it's trying to minimise the levels of fatigue whilst carrying out what is a highly responsible role with potentially serious consequences if it goes wrong.
    I sacrifice much of my personal/social life to try and ensure I am well rested for work, that is my responsibility and that sacrifice is part of it (and part of the reason I am paid well for those of you obsessed with the salary).
    We're trying to discuss ways to minimise safety of the line incidents in a thread that was started on the 20th anniversary of an appalling event that cost 31 lives and left many with incomprehensible, horrific injuries. The cheap shots really do leave a sour taste.
     
  24. vikingdriver

    vikingdriver Member

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    But no one is moaning about doing shift work. Drivers are suggesting the assault on your body and unnecessary fatigue from poor rosters and poor diagrams has a direct link to this worrying increase in SPADs. A little more effort and consideration and listening to those on the ground when coming up with these things would be a massive start and a step in the right direction.
     
  25. Surreytraveller

    Surreytraveller Established Member

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    Its not possible to manage fatigue. Different roster patterns suit different people. The only way to manage it would be to go sick if a driver felt too fatigued to drive a train safely. Either that, or when booking on, advise the Train Crew Supervisor (or whatever fancy management term is now used) that you feel fatigued, and let them make the decision whether you drive trains or not.
    It is not possible to force yourself to go to sleep if your body does not want to.
     
  26. GRALISTAIR

    GRALISTAIR Established Member

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    Early in my career I did shifts. 4 off 06.00 -14.00 shifts then 48 hours off then 4 off 14.00 -22.00 then 48 hours off then 4 off 22.00 -06.00 then 48 hours off. The nights back to morning shift was always most brutal for me. I could do 14.00 -22.00 all year long. That was in chemical plant so a modicum of danger.

    Not sure what would work for a train driver though.
     
    Last edited: 7 Oct 2019
  27. TheEdge

    TheEdge Established Member

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    Issue is if you pulled that card as often as most of us probably turn up to work having not slept well you would quickly get a reputation as a shirker or be on a attendance management warning.
     
  28. HLE

    HLE Established Member

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    No they don't have braking 'problems', although they can be slow to release at times. Multitude of issues could have caused the SPAD in question, but the quirks of a dogbox brake won't play much of a part. Can't comment on the brake on a 158.
     
  29. TheEdge

    TheEdge Established Member

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    A driver who signs 153s will know the quirks of their brakes. For what it's worth on a dry rail they can sometimes brake like they have hit a wall but on slippery rail they are quite easy to pick up.

    158s can be pretty poor as well when it's slippy. Especially when taking off
     
  30. carriageline

    carriageline Established Member

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    This, and really it’s an issue across the industry.

    In my mind, it should work as so:

    Someone says they are fatigued, they are allowed to rest/nap for 2-3 hours, turn gets covered with spare man/break man or whatever.

    If this person does this regularly, then some kind of assessment/chat/meeting takes place to find out why. Trouble sleeping/issues at home/medical issues etc. Send them on a “fatigue medical” if it’s a repeat problem. You can then start to pick up trends on when people feel tired, not when the fatigue model says they will.

    Once there is confidence in the system from both sides, then it can be useful, and used correctly. It will be abused, but then that needs to be managed correctly, and also sorted from people who are struggling and need help. This also involves a cost in having staff spare and available.

    Things like sleep apnea are slowly being realised for the big issue they are too!

    And self responsibility comes into play. Don’t gobble every slice of overtime, then complain your tired!
     

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