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FirstGWR Pembroke Dock Services - Staff Issues 2016

Discussion in 'UK Railway Discussion' started by Rhydgaled, 26 Jun 2016.

  1. Rhydgaled

    Rhydgaled Established Member

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    As you probably know, First Great Western / Great Western Railway currently have two services scheduled in each direction between Swansea and Pembroke Dock (PMD) on summer Saturdays. One of the westbound workings starts from Swansea, the other 3 services are supposed to run through to/from London Paddington. The westbound through service (08:45 from Paddington), and one of the two London-bound services, is a named train 'The Pembroke Coast Express.

    This year, on the 4th June the 08:45 Pembroke Coast Express from PAD never reached PMD, it was terminated at Carmarthen 'due to a member of train crew being unavailable'. This meant the return working from Pembroke Dock to London started from Carmarthen rather than Pembroke Dock.

    The same happened yesterday (25th June) and, if I recall correctly, on the 11th of June as well. To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, “To lose train crew one week may be regarded as misfortune; to lose them two weeks running and then again a week later looks like carelessness.”

    Since the train managed to make it to Carmarthen, I assume the problem is that the staff with route knowledge (or possibly traction knowledge, if they use ATW staff for the service) were not available. But was it the driver or guard, or both, who were unavailable? And why were they missing, given the problem has happened three times has somebody accidently rosted the wrong staff for the service, are the right staff all off-sick or is the service they are working earlier in the day having a bad time at the moment meaning the staff aren't where they need to be on time?

    Also yesterday (25th June), Real Time Trains is saying the eastbound 'Pembroke Coast Express' (09:58 from Pembroke Dock) was terminated at Bristol Parkway due "to an issue with the train crew". I was at Swindon at the time and didn't notice an announcment that it had been canceled. It disappeared from the information displays for a while, but then came back and was annouced as though it was running and about to arrive at platform 3, just before I boarded a train to Swansea. Soon after we left, an eastbound service passed us. Was the 09:58 from Pembroke Dock really canceled (if so what happened to the train crew?) or was that what I saw shortly after leaving Swindon?
     
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  3. PHILIPE

    PHILIPE Established Member

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    It's probably lack of drivers with route knowledge as Summer Saturdays are the only time they are booked to run via Carmarthen. I notice GWR Journey Check reported busses in lieu yesterday.l
     
  4. headshot119

    headshot119 Established Member

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    I tried to do it on the first Saturday they ran, but the train was cancelled at Carmarthen due to "staff issues".

    The guard admitted to me when asked that the driver didn't have route knowledge passed Carmarthen.

    I would assume a large amount of staff haven't refreshed there route knowledge in time to run the services this year.

    The crew diagram for the Paddington - Pembroke is worked by the same Driver and Train Manager throughout so it isn't a case of the staff being in the wrong place.
     
    Last edited: 26 Jun 2016
  5. Gareth Marston

    Gareth Marston Established Member

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    gWR driver manager at Swansea has dropped a clanger not ensuring his staff has traction knowledge.
     
  6. HMS Ark Royal

    HMS Ark Royal Established Member

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    Would it be able to go on if a FOC driver was detailed to act as route conductor?
     
  7. 221129

    221129 Established Member

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    More effort than it is worth?
     
  8. HMS Ark Royal

    HMS Ark Royal Established Member

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    Maybe, but i am asking from a passenger point of view

    Would that be permitted?
     
  9. MidnightFlyer

    MidnightFlyer Veteran Member

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    Is there even any freight on the Pembroke branch?
     
  10. HMS Ark Royal

    HMS Ark Royal Established Member

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    Well somebody must have knowledge for when they do track renewal
     
  11. FordFocus

    FordFocus Member

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    Not so sure the blame should solely lie with the Driver Managers. It's a combination of route refreshers been in the link or available for staff on as a needed basis. If I was lacking in the route knowledge I'd send in a refresh form, if it gets knocked back because of lack of staff to cover the service it's neither mine or the Driver Managers fault. It's more resources or rostering department issues.
     
  12. headshot119

    headshot119 Established Member

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    It's permitted, freight drivers regularly route conduct passenger trains all over the country on unusual diversions.

    Not sure which FOCs have route knowledge for the Pembroke dock branch mind.

    ATW certainly have knowledge but whether they have any spare staff or if GWR are willing to pay is another matter.
     
  13. PHILIPE

    PHILIPE Established Member

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    ATW wouldn't have any staff. They are often cancelling/part cancelling services in West wales and on HOW Line on Saturdays due to shortage of drivers. These would be at Carmarthen Depot which is the sole Depot that works the Pembroke Dock branch
     
  14. Russonomics

    Russonomics Member

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    Besides the very rare freighter transporting tanks and other military vehicles to/from nearby MOD Castlemartin, and any freight trains for track maintenance/renewal, no. The only regular freight on rails in Pembrokeshire are the (formerly known as...) Murco tankers which take the Milford Haven branch.
     
  15. philthetube

    philthetube Established Member

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    Does a route conductor have to be a driver or could someone else be trained to do it?
     
  16. DarloRich

    DarloRich Veteran Member

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    Yes if you can find one. I am unsure if there is any freight down there these days.

    FGW or ATW ;)

    As far as I am aware it needs to be a driver.
     
  17. PHILIPE

    PHILIPE Established Member

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    Answer several questions. There has been no freight on the Branch for many, many years. I won't even have a guess. When military traffic went to Castle Martin it was dealt with at Haverfordwest in the latter stages of running on rail. Nobody else can be trained to act as a conductor for the driver and a driver will always be found from a FOC to work any Engineering, Track Recording etc., trains on the branch. Probably GWR wouldn't want to pay for one.
     
  18. Rich McLean

    Rich McLean Established Member

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    Another factor, you don't necessarily need route knowledge if the Pembroke dock branch is under possession for engineering, so freight drivers operating within the possession won't need knowledge of the route as they are given specific instructions of the possession area and work site. It's in the rule book.

    Sounds to me that there weren't enough spare drivers in the run up to the summer timetable to facilitate this. Is there still at RDW ban on at GWR, as this could have been the main cause of not being able to release drivers for route refresh days
     
  19. alb1

    alb1 Member

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    Is this something which is likely to be resolved, or can we assume they won't actually run the full trip all summer?

    Asking as I'd planned on using the service in a few weeks time.
     
  20. Harbornite

    Harbornite Established Member

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    It makes you wonder if it's actually worth it for GWR to retain services to Pembroke. Are they well used when they run?
     
  21. Shaw S Hunter

    Shaw S Hunter Established Member

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    Frankly I don't understand the need for this service, it looks more like an attempt to hold on to the ghosts of the original GWR. I rode it once from Cardiff westwards and west of Swansea a 4-car DMU would have coped with the load comfortably. And beyond Tenby it was almost empty. It may well be that there is summer demand for coast-bound travelers from Newport and points west but these days any holidaymakers from the Thames Valley wanting a domestic beach holiday will go in much larger numbers to Weston/Minehead/Torbay etc. There was some talk on this forum about the cost of clearing the Pembroke route for IEPs; why bother at all?
     
  22. SPADTrap

    SPADTrap Established Member

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    Respectfully, how could that work? Doh.
     
  23. PHILIPE

    PHILIPE Established Member

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    It goes back to the days when people went on holiday at the seaside from Saturday to Saturday.
     
  24. philthetube

    philthetube Established Member

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    Respectfully I don't know, that is why I asked.
     
  25. Rhydgaled

    Rhydgaled Established Member

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    Even if the staff problems aren't resolved, you may still get lucky. So far this year, several of the GW services have run through to/from Pembroke Dock successfully. The early-morning Swansea to Pembroke Dock, which then forms the eastbound 'Pembroke Coast Express', seems to be performing better than the other diagram so far, but I suppose that might change.

    I think it depends. It can get quite a bit of patronage, some sunny weekends I'm sure I've seen far more passengers than would fit on one of the 2-car 150s ATW use on the line getting off/on the IC125. At other times the IC125 can be near-empty through Pembrokeshire.

    You are right about it being near-empty west of Tenby. However, east of Tenby my view is that on the busiest days a 4-car 150 wouldn't be enough, a 4-car 158 (23m vehicles) might just do it, but 5-car would be better.

    Pembrokeshire is currently not included in the IEP clearance plans and Great Western services are due to be withdrawn from 2018. Narberth tunnel is tightly curved, if a class 800 can't fit through that then clearance will presumably be far too expensive, but without the GW services I don't think ATW could cope on the busiest Saturdays with their current fleet. A couple of dozen 156s for Pembrokeshire and Heart Of Wales services wouldn't go amiss from 2019, then they might be able to run 6-car workings to Tenby and split, probably with just two coaches (one unit) going on to Pembroke Dock. Shame there weren't any 3-car 156s built, could run 5-car formations then, with one 2-car and one 3-car unit.

    How do drivers refresh route knowledge? Do the just need to look at some maps, or is there a simulator? Because I can't recall ever reading anything about IC125s visiting Pembroke Dock out-of-season to train drivers.
     
  26. Pacerpilot

    Pacerpilot Member

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    The Swansea drivers who sign the branch (of which there are not that many) usually start refreshing a few weeks ahead of the summer service commencing. They travel up front on the ATW services.
     
  27. ChiefPlanner

    ChiefPlanner Established Member

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    Market seems to have changed then - dramatically - way back there was a York - Tenby DMU via ( think) the HoW line .....anyone recall this ? (could have been a Trans Pennine York - Chester linked through on Summer Saturdays.
     
  28. Rhydgaled

    Rhydgaled Established Member

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    Ah, they do it in DMUs, thanks. They don't need to see how the different braking characteristics of an IC125 effect where they need to start slowing for each stop then.

    One hopes the drivers whose route knowledge has lapsed are now travelling on both ATW services and the GW trains which have made it in order to refresh their route knowledge, anyone know if this is the case?
     
  29. Shaw S Hunter

    Shaw S Hunter Established Member

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    For short(ish) stretches a brief may be sufficient, eg the remodelling either side of Huyton Junction used a video simulation produced by Network Rail with accompanying handouts. Longer sections need to be seen by riding up front of whatever is currently running so freight drivers are often seen in dmu cabs prior to significant engineering works, either to refresh a diversionary route or for the engineering trains themselves. The traction may be different but professional drivers can generally be relied on to ask the appropriate questions about, say, gradients or low adhesion areas, though of course the pre-refresh brief will also cover these.

    Worth adding that very short stretches, say a short curve not normally used by a particular group of drivers, may only be learned in the first place by video and someone could potentially go through a career with such a curve on their route card without ever going over it. Tightening regulations will doubtless put an end to this in due course.
     
  30. Bald Rick

    Bald Rick Established Member

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    Pretty sure I remember seeing a 47 on the front of a York bound train at some point in the early 80s; Tenby starter I think. It must have been a wet day, otherwise I'd have been on the beach 15 miles further west!
     
  31. PHILIPE

    PHILIPE Established Member

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    It was booked a 47, I remember the train
     

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