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Covid Redundancies?

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206driver

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Have any TOCs made redundancies due to Covid? (Particularly interested in driver roles, but would appreciate other roles too).

Just asking as I'm currently in an industry that is being hit really hard with large numbers of redundancies, and if I were to get the chop I'd like to move to an industry that was more stable through the tough times.

Thanks!
 
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_toommm_

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The only operation that springs to mind was Grand Central's West Coast venture, which would see them run trains from Euston to Blackpool roughly 5 times a day using ex. LNER stock. THey'd not yet run any revenue-earning trips yet though, and had barely begun driver training.

 

Stigy

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Have any TOCs made redundancies due to Covid? (Particularly interested in driver roles, but would appreciate other roles too).

Just asking as I'm currently in an industry that is being hit really hard with large numbers of redundancies, and if I were to get the chop I'd like to move to an industry that was more stable through the tough times.

Thanks!
Grand Central have indeed made redundancies (including trainee drivers, which is a real shame in itself). This I’d imagine is largely because they’re an open access operator and don’t have the financial backing from the Government. They (along with some Freight companies I believe) also utilised the Furlough scheme whereas mainstream TOCs didn’t need to.
 

43066

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As above really. Highest risk (or perhaps I should say least low risk) would be non franchised TOCs which are not backed by the DfT ie open access, freight, Eurostar.

Obviously nobody can predict the future but I can’t think of an industry I’d rather be working in from a job security perspective than a franchised TOC, particularly as a driver. Training is still taking place, and overtime is still being offered.

It’s worth remembering that “the railway runs on overtime”. TOCs are completely reliant on overtime to run their standard service. Therefore even a large and permanent reduction in services could be absorbed by reducing overtime available, without any need to make redundancies.
 
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Bletchleyite

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It’s worth remembering that “the railway runs on overtime”. TOCs are completely reliant on overtime to run their standard service. Therefore even a large and permanent reduction in services could be absorbed by reducing overtime available, without any need to make redundancies.

Every cloud has a silver lining. A good thing would be a commitment to recruiting so as to use overtime for emergencies and not for normal operations once things get busier.
 
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Hi

Just curious as to why this would be a good thing? (from an outsider with no idea how the industry works). Is overtime voluntary? Is it forced on drivers? If the former, surely its a win win from both TOC and driver perspective?

Would more train drivers lead to less normal rostered work? More rest days?
 

Tom Quinne

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Personally I think freight is looking a safer bet than passenger at the moment from a driving perspective.

The big growth is going to be freight over the next half decade, with passenger numbers surpressed for years to come.
 

High Dyke

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Hull Trains had also announced redundancies, mainly for their on-board staff. There is also discussions taking place regrading transferring their customer call centre staff to the First call centre in Sheffield. Discussed in this thread.

Also uncertainty about increasing passenger services at the current time may lead to potential redundancies amongst TOC staff, or at least a recruitment freeze.
 

Bletchleyite

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Just curious as to why this would be a good thing? (from an outsider with no idea how the industry works). Is overtime voluntary? Is it forced on drivers? If the former, surely its a win win from both TOC and driver perspective?

It's a bad thing (in any industry) for a number of reasons;
1. It allows drivers/guards to hold the TOC over a barrel by being able to withdraw it at will
2. It means staff are more tired because they don't get the proper rest
3. It means fewer jobs in society overall. Better to have more people employed working a normal week than fewer employed working more.

Overtime is for exceptional situations and that is all it should ever be in any industry.
 
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It's a bad thing (in any industry) for a number of reasons;
1. It allows drivers/guards to hold the TOC over a barrel by being able to withdraw it at will

What's wrong with that? Power to the people!

We live in a World dominated by accountants. Company's will bang on about safety, but cash is king. I have seen it in other safety critical industries.

If TOC's are serious about fatigue/safety etc then I agree they should employ more people, but until there is a serious incident involving human error attributable to lack of rest etc, then expect to see no change.
 
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It causes disruption to the service which as a passenger I do not appreciate.

The fact that the railway can't manage industrial relations properly should not be my concern.
That's not the problem off the staff. Instead, TOC's should behave responsibly and fairly in order to avoid getting to that point.
 

Bletchleyite

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That's not the problem off the staff. Instead, TOC's should behave responsibly and fairly in order to avoid getting to that point.

Clearly there are a lot of issues involved, however non-contractual overtime is a big cause of short-notice disruption. I appreciate you don't want to give that up, but the railway exists to provide a service and its industrial relation problems are not the concern of the passenger. As a passenger I only care that the due service is provided; any issues between you and your employer are as much my business as any issues between me and my employer are yours.
 

Tom Quinne

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Clearly there are a lot of issues involved, however non-contractual overtime is a big cause of short-notice disruption. I appreciate you don't want to give that up, but the railway exists to provide a service and its industrial relation problems are not the concern of the passenger. As a passenger I only care that the due service is provided; any issues between you and your employer are as much my business as any issues between me and my employer are yours.

Here’s a radical thought, management side respect agreements and treat the staff side with respect so overtime bans and morale hitting rock bottom don’t happen?

That doesn’t mean management side bending over backwards to keep the staff side happy, it means mutual respect and trust something lacking in all but a very small number of operators, departments or functions.
 

43066

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Every cloud has a silver lining. A good thing would be a commitment to recruiting so as to use overtime for emergencies and not for normal operations once things get busier.

Both major rail unions would agree with you there! However there’s zero chance of that happening, because it’s cheaper to employ fewer staff, and pay some lucrative overtime rates.

Clearly there are a lot of issues involved, however non-contractual overtime is a big cause of short-notice disruption. I appreciate you don't want to give that up, but the railway exists to provide a service and its industrial relation problems are not the concern of the passenger. As a passenger I only care that the due service is provided; any issues between you and your employer are as much my business as any issues between me and my employer are yours.

I’d argue that it happens so rarely that it isn’t a big deal for most passengers, in practice. On the rare occasions it does happen, disruption to the passengers, (albeit undesirable) is not the concern of the of the union, which is something that is very often forgotten. The union’s primary duty is to further the interests of its members.

As a passenger, by buying a ticket, you enter into a contract with the TOC. Failure to provide that service due to poor industrial relations could be argued to be the same as your train being cancelled due to (for example) the TOC skimping on maintenance.
 

Bletchleyite

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In what way ?

When staff decide they are "going to a BBQ" coincidentally with a bit of a disagreement that isn't bad enough to call a proper strike? Most TOCs seem to go through spates of it.

But that aside, it's also just how I believe businesses should run. You need to employ enough staff that their contracted hours cover your basic operation. If the tax system makes that more expensive than overworking people, then it needs fixing.
 

Starmill

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That's not the problem off the staff. Instead, TOC's should behave responsibly and fairly in order to avoid getting to that point.
By, for example, hiring the necessary number of staff to operate without overtime?

Obviously this decision hasn't not been made and isn't likely to be. But if it were I don't really see how one could object to it or suggest that it's unfair.
 

ComUtoR

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When staff decide they are "going to a BBQ" coincidentally with a bit of a disagreement that isn't bad enough to call a proper strike? Most TOCs seem to go through spates of it.

This isn't a "big cause of short notice disruption" I suspect your being very disingenuous. I really don't for a second see "most TOCs" having regular BBS sundays that cause an assumed level of disruption.

But that aside, it's also just how I believe businesses should run. You need to employ enough staff that their contracted hours cover your basic operation. If the tax system makes that more expensive than overworking people, then it needs fixing.

Do you think that overtime being contractually obligated is the solution to not using overtime to run the railway ? Even when Covid was at its highest and the railway was running a skeleton service, we were still running overtime.
 

Bletchleyite

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Do you think that overtime being contractually obligated is the solution to not using overtime to run the railway ? Even when Covid was at its highest and the railway was running a skeleton service, we were still running overtime.

No, I think the railway should employ enough staff that the normal day to day operation is covered by staff within their contracted standard hours. That includes normal expected levels of sickness and the "latent" level of day to day disruption that occurs.

Overtime should, in any business, be an exception rather than a rule, as the day to day need for it is just poor planning.

If, say, a Pendolino takes the wires down in the evening peak in the Euston throat, you're probably going to need some overtime, of course.
 

T-Karmel

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Have any TOCs made redundancies due to Covid? (Particularly interested in driver roles, but would appreciate other roles too).

Heathrow Express has made 50 people redundant and another number of people part time from their full time jobs back in June. That is all frontline staff, as drivers and operational are provided by Heathrow Rail and GWR. Heathrow Rail has offered voluntary redundancy to number of people too.
 

43066

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Heathrow Express has made 50 people redundant and another number of people part time from their full time jobs back in June. That is all frontline staff, as drivers and operational are provided by Heathrow Rail and GWR. Heathrow Rail has offered voluntary redundancy to number of people too.

Do you mean to say it isn’t front line staff?
 

T-Karmel

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Do you mean to say it isn’t front line staff?
Redundancies were amongst customer service, sales and commercial teams as these are provided by Heathrow Express. Not amongst drivers, platform staff, gateline nor dispatchers as these are provided by Heathrow Rail and GWR.
 

theironroad

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Redundancies were amongst customer service, sales and commercial teams as these are provided by Heathrow Express. Not amongst drivers, platform staff, gateline nor dispatchers as these are provided by Heathrow Rail and GWR.

Who are 'Heathrow Rail'?

I thought HEX was the operating company for the fast services and TfL for stoppers.
 

T-Karmel

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Who are 'Heathrow Rail'?

I thought HEX was the operating company for the fast services and TfL for stoppers.

2 years ago HEX has been split in 3 parts. Now GWR runs trains, platforms and gateline in Paddington, Heathrow Rail runs all three stations at Heathrow (platform staff, gateline - including running Underground station in Terminal 5) and Heathrow Express does commercial, so provide on board staff to check tickets, do customer service and ensure safety, sales teams to sell tickets on both ends - Paddington and Heathrow - helping people on ticket machines and using hand-held devices.
 

tlionhart

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No, I think the railway should employ enough staff that the normal day to day operation is covered by staff within their contracted standard hours. That includes normal expected levels of sickness and the "latent" level of day to day disruption that occurs.

Overtime should, in any business, be an exception rather than a rule, as the day to day need for it is just poor planning.

If, say, a Pendolino takes the wires down in the evening peak in the Euston throat, you're probably going to need some overtime, of course.

Its more complex than that. Drivers can be off/not available. (Retired staff, depot transfers, staff who have exit the TOC, operational or long term sick.)
Training a driver is expensive to any toc as is finding new drivers. A lot of these training courses are paid for by the DFT. Tocs rarely dip into their own pockets to recruit new drivers. In addition, at depots you can have local agreements which also makes things more complicated.
For example one depot can throw a Sunday in by Wednesday of that week, whereas a depot 40miles away has to apply for the day off or mutually agree a swap with someone at their depot who is off.
Plus you have complications when it comes to route signing. The demand for that driver goes up if only that one particular link signs the route or diversion. Training a whole depot on that wouldn’t work, because of competency, driver availability to go and route learn. With that said overtime is available for instance when new traction is introduced or amendments to that links route card. Where drivers are released, other routes/traction becomes uncovered. This is when overtime is rewarded like a big win at a casino. It’s very difficult for a toc to keep up as it’s an industry that keeps changing every 6months. DFT demands it, TOC has to deliver.

To the OPs question, I would also add a cut down on depot numbers would come first. For instance if depots total heads is 300 and they currently have 200 drivers at that depot, then the cuts would come down to the quotas. So 300 to 250. Also redundancy would be packaged to nearing retiring staff.
Nothing is guaranteed, but it certainly is stable so far. (Especially in the driver grade)
 

theironroad

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2 years ago HEX has been split in 3 parts. Now GWR runs trains, platforms and gateline in Paddington, Heathrow Rail runs all three stations at Heathrow (platform staff, gateline - including running Underground station in Terminal 5) and Heathrow Express does commercial, so provide on board staff to check tickets, do customer service and ensure safety, sales teams to sell tickets on both ends - Paddington and Heathrow - helping people on ticket machines and using hand-held devices.

Thanks, informative.

Who knew running a train line from a city centre to its airport could be made so complex. :)
 

bramling

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It's a bad thing (in any industry) for a number of reasons;
1. It allows drivers/guards to hold the TOC over a barrel by being able to withdraw it at will
2. It means staff are more tired because they don't get the proper rest
3. It means fewer jobs in society overall. Better to have more people employed working a normal week than fewer employed working more.

Overtime is for exceptional situations and that is all it should ever be in any industry.

But just so add a bit of balance

1. TOCs like it because it’s cheaper to pay overtime than employ more staff due to all the costs associated with recruiting, training and maintaining staff headcount
2. Some staff love it as it tops up their income
3. It’s a short term cost which doesn’t necessarily follow that the money is there to employ more people on a long-term basis.

I’m not saying I like it, and at my place it’s abused to the extremes, however I can’t see things ever changing.
 
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