Day to day life as a conductor

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YorkshireJedi

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Hello,

I just wondered if someone could give me an overview of the day to day life of a conductor? At a basic level I presume it would be get to the station, get up to date with any information of note, delays etc, get retail machines/float ready? Conduct safety checks? Not sure what conductors are responsible for in that department. Then on the relevant route/s for the day?

Also do conductors stay with the same train most of the day or is it a case of swapping trains and routes throughout the day?
 
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Horizon22

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Hello,

I just wondered if someone could give me an overview of the day to day life of a conductor? At a basic level I presume it would be get to the station, get up to date with any information of note, delays etc, get retail machines/float ready? Conduct safety checks? Not sure what conductors are responsible for in that department. Then on the relevant route/s for the day?

Also do conductors stay with the same train most of the day or is it a case of swapping trains and routes throughout the day?

This will vary wildly by each TOC and even by depot. You have the core things correct, but there's a lot of variety. Any TOC (or perhaps even type i.e. intercity, suburban) you want to know more about?
 

YorkshireJedi

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Ideally how Northern operate or similar. Say based at Leeds or Sheffield.
Also what safety checks are the conductors responsible for? Thanks.
 

Watershed

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At the end of the day, or when a train is left unattended, or before it starts an ECS move, it needs to be "disposed", i.e. checked to ensure there are no passengers on board, doors closed and locked etc. This would often form the penultimate activity in the late shift's diagrams, before returning their machines etc. and booking off.

Before a train enters passenger service again it requires a certain level of preparation and checks. The early shift will typically do that immediately after booking on, but this also needs to be done throughout the day, for example after breaks or longer turnarounds.

The extent of these checks will vary depending on the TOC and the type of train, but in most circumstances the conductor ensures that doors open and close properly, there are no major faults with safety related equipment, and sometimes also sets up the automated announcements and information/destination displays.

Conductors usually only stay with their train for a prolonged period on long and/or rural lines - for example the Far North or Conwy Valley Lines. In such cases, the train times will typically be geared around ensuring that one/two return trips fit into one shift, so won't necessarily represent an optimal utilisation of the train.

Elsewhere it usually ends up being most efficient for conductors to swap trains, often several times during their shift. This will vary significantly depending on factors such as T&Cs regarding break lengths and timings, and the extent of conductors' route knowledge.

They can be booked to ride as a passenger, or to take a taxi. The latter is particularly the case where trains are stabled overnight at locations where there isn't a depot.

Occasionally they will be booked to 'assist' a fellow conductor - often where there is a busy train where more than one conductor is needed to check and sell tickets throughout the train, or where trains are coupled together without a gangway.

A certain proportion of all conductor diagrams will simply be 'spare' to cover for any last minute sickness, disruption etc.
 
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Undiscovered

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General overview.

Book on. Confirm and collect diagram.
Check late notice case, sign for WONs/PONs. Check pigeon hole.
Quick kit check- keys, namebadge, pen etc.
Collect retail equipment.
Walk to train.
Work diagram.
Back at home depot/end of shift: Cash up and deposit retail equipment.
File any reports on any incidents/unusual occurances during shift. Initially, you'll probably do a lot of CYA reports. Experience will guide you as you settle in.
Put kit away.
Double check tomorrows job and 48hr sheet for upcoming jobs.
Go home.

Safety checks- usually, you'll do a door test to ensure all doors open and close correctly. Accordingly, you might need to isolate faulty doors, which can influence if that unit goes into service or is a failure. The rule book guides you here.
General check on facilities- toilet flush, sink water, soap, especially in Covid times.
End of shift, you'll go through the train, checking toilets to make sure no one is left on board, and removing lost property, before locking up the unit so it can go to the depot, empty. Empty is the key word here- passengers ending up in depots or locked in stables units is a big nono and will earn you meeting, without tea or biscuits, with your manager.

All of these tasks are minuted and, while you can book on bang on time, go out and work a train, most folks book on just a tad earlier, so you're strolling, rather than dashing!
 

FFB6C1

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From what you have said above re TOC and location here is quite a specific account of what to expect in a normal day:
(used spoiler tags because it's a lengthy reply)

Arrive at your depot and head for the signing on point. Swipe on which will tell you which job you've been assigned for the day. You collect your diagram from the box and in the case of my depot have a quick chat with the train crew supervisor (not all depots have one) then check your late notice case for any speed restrictions or severe weather warnings etc. Collect your latest WONs/PONs if you need them. It is now time to head to the OTAP and collect your revenue equipment then take a seat and set this up ready for duty before heading down to your first train.

If you have PTDT this means you must prepare the train and carry out a door test. This is usually only at the start of a day when the train first enters passenger service. Before setting foot on the train check for a 'Not to be moved' board, if one is present this means you cannot continue without having the person who placed it there remove it. Check also for a 'non-multi' sticker in the window as this means the unit can't run in multiple. You should also check the windows and exterior cleanliness before then boarding the train where your next step is a cab check. Is all the required safety equipment present? Are all tamper seals intact? Are the circuit breakers in the correct position? Are any safety systems isolated? Does everything in the cab look okay? Check the repair book and see what the last reported issue was. Next steps if all is okay in the cab is to check the saloon. Lights? Cleanliness? Is the toilet functioning and are hand washing facilities available? During covid, this is actually a reason to fail a train if it is entering passenger service for the first time or if it is starting from a major location where there are cleaning/maintenance staff available. Check the windows once again ensuring none are broken or cracked. If all those checks have been completed without any issues then you can carry out your door test and if they are all operating correctly you are ready to enter service! You may also just find PT which means do all of the above checks but no door test. This is much more common and can be on your diagram at any time of day depending on if the unit has been stabled for a while or if it's been disposed of by the previous conductor.

Once you've got your train ready for service then you can start letting passengers on and make your pre-departure announcements and if needed help with any queries or passenger assists. You'll then follow your diagram carrying out your door procedure at each station and carrying out patrols of the train checking tickets and chatting to passengers in between stops. At my TOC and depot, you can spend almost the whole day with the same train on certain routes. We have diagrams where you spend the whole day bouncing around a set of commuter lines where you stop very frequently and there are numerous stops on each route. If you do one of these expect to stop up to 70 odd times in one shift and yes it is quite repetitive. I personally love those diagrams but that is just personal preference, especially if I turn up and get my favourite train then I'm perfectly happy bouncing around all day/night. A lot of our diagrams are varied though so you may do an express service to say Manchester and back then a break followed by a shorter trip to say maybe York and back then if it says DISP on your diagram you dispose of the train by closing the doors and keying out and then collect your belongings and turn out the cab lights and head through the saloon (make sure cab door is shut properly!) check for any left luggage or passengers, including in the toilet and close all the windows in the saloon. Once you have reached the other end of the train check the other cab making sure the lights are out and windows are closed then you can leave the train and shut the door behind you. The train is now disposed of and secure! Do your cashing up and then return your revenue equipment to the OTAP along with the day's takings and head back to the signing on point. If you have to complete or have completed any report forms make sure these are faxed off to the relevant department then hand them in BEFORE swiping off. This is a rule book requirement! You then swipe off and go check your booking on time for your next turn of duty on the way out. That is an average day for me at my TOC and depot. That is what you too can expect based on where you are interested in.

If you have a spare turn you follow the same booking on process but instead of collecting a diagram you just let the train crew supervisor know you are here and they will tell you if they have any work for you and if not you just go sit down somewhere and read a book/watch movies/listen to music and they'll find you if they need you to go out. At the moment it's slightly different due to covid though.
 
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