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Covid-19 & The Impact Upon the Railways from a Train Driver's perspective?

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Goingloco

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Not wanting to be a merchant of doom and gloom, I'd be interested to hear from drivers on how they perceive Covid will/could impact upon the railways (from a drivers perspective).

I think that it's naive to believe that passenger traffic will return to pre-pandenmic levels any time soon (if ever), and the five day office based working pattern, I believe will not return, rather a mix. Clearly this would also have a negative impact on passenger levels.

This is all conjecture and everyone will have their own opinions on this.

I'd like to focus what if passenger levels remain low what could the ramifications be? Fewer services, fewer drivers? Likelihood of redundancies? Aslef and their role if redundancies were muted? etc etc.

Many thanks.
 
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matkirk

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I have 3 friends who all have high powered jobs in London for large corporations. They all say the same, once Covid is over the staff will be back in the offices whether they like it or not. Where's the benefit to the company having someone work at home 3 days a week? Get in, get creative, get working. So very different opinion to your take on things.

I don't see redundancies at driver level. They'll cost cut through non unionised management first.
Then natural wastage. Then if needed incentive to get the old boys to retire.

Not saying this is correct. Just another idea.
 

dctraindriver

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9 Jan 2017
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My train was pretty busy this morning by time I got to London. Nice sight to see.

Do I think I’ll be made redundant? I don’t think I will. Lots of drivers will be coming up to retirement soon at my TOC and a few people have said what Matkirk states above.

I’ve no doubt there will be a few industrial relation issues to deal with so that could be interesting to see what changes the DFT could attempt to impose...
 

bramling

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Not wanting to be a merchant of doom and gloom, I'd be interested to hear from drivers on how they perceive Covid will/could impact upon the railways (from a drivers perspective).

I think that it's naive to believe that passenger traffic will return to pre-pandenmic levels any time soon (if ever), and the five day office based working pattern, I believe will not return, rather a mix. Clearly this would also have a negative impact on passenger levels.

This is all conjecture and everyone will have their own opinions on this.

I'd like to focus what if passenger levels remain low what could the ramifications be? Fewer services, fewer drivers? Likelihood of redundancies? Aslef and their role if redundancies were muted? etc etc.

Many thanks.

At the present time drivers, along with some other operating grades, remain very much a golden asset - mainly due to the lack of training that’s happened over the last year.

Whatever happens to passenger numbers, any reduction in headcount for such staff can quite likely be met by simply not filling vacancies / replacing retirements.

The biggest impact on drivers in the immediate future is likely to be that pay settlements won’t be very good, or at least not as good as some have been in recent history.
 

Chester1

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25 Aug 2014
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3,239
I have 3 friends who all have high powered jobs in London for large corporations. They all say the same, once Covid is over the staff will be back in the offices whether they like it or not. Where's the benefit to the company having someone work at home 3 days a week? Get in, get creative, get working. So very different opinion to your take on things.

I don't see redundancies at driver level. They'll cost cut through non unionised management first.
Then natural wastage. Then if needed incentive to get the old boys to retire.

Not saying this is correct. Just another idea.

Companies will do what is best for their circumstances. Many have decided that home working is part of the right balance for them. "Get creative" does not apply to a lot administrative and technical work. Depending on home circumstances some staff will be more productive spending 1-4 days a week working from home. The enforced trial of WFH has had mixed results but its certainly been more successful that many predicted. There are plenty (myself included) who had never worked from home, whose employers spent a lot on IT last year and who have been promised some home working permanently. The effect on the railways will be determined by what % of the week people spend working from home. It needs to budget for office workers working on average one or two days a week at home. My guess is the drop between 2019 and 2022 passenger levels will be dealt with through natural wastage. Staff turnover must be at least 5% a year?
 

RailExplorer

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14 Aug 2018
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39
At my TOC we are in full swing training mode and have been since September with only a 2 week pause over Christmas (service shut down / trainees on annual leave etc). I pretty much teach someone Monday to Thursday (route learning / trainees) and assess someone else on the Friday. Plenty of overtime for instructors too.

We have a serious backlog of missed training at the moment, and it is all taking longer at the moment too. I used to teach 4 drivers the route between A and B during a 2 week course. Now I teach just one person in the same time frame... so training has been stretched out which is a huge benefit to me (similar situation for classroom based stuff).

Then there’s the whole new section of line that hasn’t yet opened, but I envisage plenty of overtime for that too. So short term (next year or so) I don’t see any issues at my TOC, however in the medium term (1-5 years) I do see an attempt to either erode T&Cs and/or pay freezes as the income from passengers just isn’t there - unless things dramatically improve by the summer. My wife’s company for example want everyone back in the office asap, an office which they don’t even have right now because they gave up the lease in September last year.
 

Goingloco

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4 Mar 2015
Messages
105
At my TOC we are in full swing training mode and have been since September with only a 2 week pause over Christmas (service shut down / trainees on annual leave etc). I pretty much teach someone Monday to Thursday (route learning / trainees) and assess someone else on the Friday. Plenty of overtime for instructors too.

We have a serious backlog of missed training at the moment, and it is all taking longer at the moment too. I used to teach 4 drivers the route between A and B during a 2 week course. Now I teach just one person in the same time frame... so training has been stretched out which is a huge benefit to me (similar situation for classroom based stuff).

Then there’s the whole new section of line that hasn’t yet opened, but I envisage plenty of overtime for that too. So short term (next year or so) I don’t see any issues at my TOC, however in the medium term (1-5 years) I do see an attempt to either erode T&Cs and/or pay freezes as the income from passengers just isn’t there - unless things dramatically improve by the summer. My wife’s company for example want everyone back in the office asap, an office which they don’t even have right now because they gave up the lease in September last year.
I tend to agree that T & C's and or pay rises could be eroded in the medium term. Could that conceivably include pension provisions?

In terms of the WFH debate, many of my friends believe that their employers will revert to a mixed office/home routine and I think that it is inevitable that passenger numbers will be depleted from prepandemic numbers, I guess the million dollar question is by how many which probably cannot be quantified yet........
 
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Cdd89

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8 Jan 2017
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849
If the WFH days are disproportionately Monday / Friday (which would clearly be the employees’ preference), then it could mean midweek demand doesn’t decrease by much at all?
 

Chester1

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25 Aug 2014
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If the WFH days are disproportionately Monday / Friday (which would clearly be the employees’ preference), then it could mean midweek demand doesn’t decrease by much at all?

While Monday and Friday will be the most popular days to work from home the opportunity will be limited by desk capacity Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The main advantage of part time WFH for employers is saving money on offices. Initially this won't happen (unless they have already downsized). In the long term they will downsize as leases end or they will employ more staff without leasing additional office space. If an employer caps WFH to 2 days a week then desks Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday will be very popular and some people will be forced to WFH mid week. The traditional peak days and times will be less distinct after the pandemic which should reduce congestion on the railways and roads.
 

VauxhallandI

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26 Dec 2012
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What would help the recovery of commuting would be to add flexibility to discounted peak travel tickets.

At the moment people will be encouraged to WFH for 3 days a week as the pivot point on a season ticket is commuting 3 days a week? Especially when you consider many don’t use their season at the weekends
 

Fred Dinenage

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23 Jul 2013
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325
Isn’t this thread supposed to be from a train driver’s perspective, not discussing working from home and tickets?
 
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