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Thameslink driver refuses to move train 16/11

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dk1

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The Northern Line pre-COVID and now one again post covid, had some terrible overcrowding to the point that I’ve been right at the yellow line when a train whizzes out and the next one comes in. Solid crowds from one end of the platform to the other three-four rows deep.

I often think that but it’s no good comparing tube & national rail as both operate to very differing standards.
 
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baz962

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Why is the despatch corridor so much wider on national rail than the underground. Its about twice the size
You should check out some London Overground stations . Some very narrow ones.
 

AlastairFraser

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So, having established that, how should matters be (have been) better managed at Farringdon? Or are we saying that the design of the curving Thameslink station platform at Farringdon isn't really fit for purpose during the busiest times?

Also, was the train in question at Farringdon on Thursday the already late running 1724 to Brighton?
I would say perhaps a Man Picc P13/P14-style waiting room between the main entrance and the Thameslink station might help in the interim.
In the longer term, platform screen doors if possible on a curving platform (@Bald Rick, any ideas?)
 

SeanR69

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Is ATO now in everyday use on the Thameslink core? I recall there being a period in which the hardware was ready but drivers weren't trained to use it.
It is available 0500 to 2300 Monday to Friday - outside of those times drive ETCS if trained - not all drivers are yet
 

Coolzac

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Driver was absolutely right. After the Merseyrail manslaughter case - the train must wait.

If every PA, verbal request, train PA etc has not moved the passengers back - no sweat or stress - the train does not move.

The 15 minute delay might educate those passengers stood beyond the line, and those irate people stood behind them might err... assist them in moving back. Horizontally.
Absolutely. After the Merseyrail case, I'm amazed incidents like this one don't happen more often!
 

jon0844

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So, having established that, how should matters be (have been) better managed at Farringdon? Or are we saying that the design of the curving Thameslink station platform at Farringdon isn't really fit for purpose during the busiest times?

Also, was the train in question at Farringdon on Thursday the already late running 1724 to Brighton?

Yes, it started late and from what I can see it was only at Farringdon for about 9 minutes or so? Arrived at Brighton 30 minutes late.

100% driver in the right......this is why people get told to stay behind the yellow line at stations. I'm reminded of a fairly recent thread where someone was having a whinge about platform staff shouting at people to stay behind the line, well, this is exactly why it's done. PS, I'm platform staff at a large station.....

Yes, in that thread there were some people who actually said they'd ignore staff and stand where they wanted because the line is (in their opinion) too far away from the train and so they're not in any danger.

I often think that but it’s no good comparing tube & national rail as both operate to very differing standards.

You probably have grandfather rights too, plus the fact that most underground platforms simply can't be extended as you might be able to do (albeit at huge cost) on the national railway network, or move specific obstructions, or even use SDO to close off the possibly narrower ends.
 

skyhigh

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Yes, it started late and from what I can see it was only at Farringdon for about 9 minutes or so? Arrived at Brighton 30 minutes late.
Yes, only 9 mins of delay allocated to the time at Farringdon.

I think it's a lot of hot air and over dramatisation from the OP. It's interesting how they were responding to the thread until they were disagreed with and since then has only made an unrelated comment about ATO...
 

ComUtoR

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Why is the despatch corridor so much wider on national rail than the underground. Its about twice the size

RSSB https://www.rssb.co.uk/what-we-do/k...train-dispatch/safe-train-dispatch-procedures

A minimum distance from the platform edge has not been set in RIS-3703-TOM because this can be different depending on the method of dispatch. For example, for platform-mounted cameras the minimum distance is 1,000 mm from the platform edge, whereas for vehicle-mounted cameras the minimum distance is 1,500 mm from the platform edge. For platform or guard dispatch the minimum distance depends on how much of the platform the staff can see, if there is an increased risk of distraction by viewing a wider area and whether a wider view negatively impacts the speed and accuracy of train dispatch.

I don't know the rules or standards for the underground; maybe someone could post their dispatch regulations.

You learn something every day. I always thought the yellow lines were to keep passengers away from platform edges on high speed lines because of suction risk and they had made their way onto slower speed lines over time to persuade people to keep a bit back. I didn't realise they are a formal line to do with dispatch procedures.

The 1500 mm distance is used as it aligns with the placing of the yellow line painted on some platforms. Historically, the minimum spacing of the yellow line from the edge of the platform was 1000 mm, which is the figure selected for the not at doors position. The position of the yellow line can vary depending on the requirements of the railway undertaking (RU) and the history of the platform; therefore, this is not used as a requirement in this standard.

The yellow line is a good rule of thumb and allows for safe dispatch. Trains can be dispatched with people standing close but passenger behaviours are also taken into consideration. People will mash the open button, even after the doors have been closed. They will lean against the train, try and jump on at the very last second, stick their hands in the doors, bang on the window, train surf, etc etc. Simply standing back behind the yellow line allows for anyone dispatching, a clear view of the side of the train and no reason to suspect anyone is going to suddenly try to board the train or come into contact with it as it leaves.
 

dctraindriver

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Absolutely. The ridiculous decision to jail the guard involved in the James St incident has led to inevitable consequences. 100 percent support the driver who no doubt is in no hurry to lose his or her liberty when a passenger falls underneath the train.
Sorry fella I have to disagree about it being ridiculous for sending the guard to jail. Totally negligent. But I think the driver dealing with this yesterday has demonstrated how professional they are. I don’t understand why the OP appears to get off on the driver hopefully getting a rollicking….
 

RJ

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So, having established that, how should matters be (have been) better managed at Farringdon? Or are we saying that the design of the curving Thameslink station platform at Farringdon isn't really fit for purpose during the busiest times?

Also, was the train in question at Farringdon on Thursday the already late running 1724 to Brighton?

More than two platform staff if it gets like that.
 

snookertam

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If the description of the incident in the OP is correct, then hopefully the driver has complained about the attitude of the platform staff.
 

bramling

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In the James Street incident the guard willingly dispatched the train with a passenger actually leaning against it. In fact, she was the only passenger on the platform, he was looking right at her, and still gave the bell to go.

Her name was Georgia Varley and she was inexcusably and unlawfully killed by a member of rail staff who did not care about her welfare. This has nothing in common with a crush loaded and very busy dispatch corridor where the driver can be unsure about whether anyone is in contact with or at an unsafe distance from their train.

The reason the driver didn’t move the train in this instance is because it’s their responsibility and they were unsure if it was safe. If they do pull away then they are at risk of putting someone in danger.

Every so often someone will use this poor girl’s manslaughter to make some empty point on this forum and it’s grim and pathetic.

Don’t agree here. Being realistic, it has bothered people, and it has made people think about things. In the James Street incident the waters were muddied because the guard wasn’t actually following the procedure to the letter - indeed had he done so then the incident would likely still have happened but he could well have been off the hook. It does mean people are now more likely to stop and think - (1) am I following the procedure correctly, and (2) could I be held responsible if something happens here? I don’t think that’s a grim point, and it certainly isn’t a forum thing, I can guarantee the self-same discussions will have been had in mess rooms around the country.
 

Edsmith

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Sorry fella I have to disagree about it being ridiculous for sending the guard to jail. Totally negligent. But I think the driver dealing with this yesterday has demonstrated how professional they are. I don’t understand why the OP appears to get off on the driver hopefully getting a rollicking….
I totally agree with you about the negligence of the guard in the James Street incident, from what I was told by a Southeastern guard nobody should be in contact with the train (ie leaning against it) and whilst ideally everyone should be behind the yellow line this just isn't possible at some stations. As for the incident at Farringdon, isn't this a regular occurance at busy times not only there but elsewhere on Thameslink and LO/LU? Ideally there would be platform edge doors but I guess it's just not possible at many locations?
 

AlterEgo

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Don’t agree here. Being realistic, it has bothered people, and it has made people think about things. In the James Street incident the waters were muddied because the guard wasn’t actually following the procedure to the letter - indeed had he done so then the incident would likely still have happened but he could well have been off the hook. It does mean people are now more likely to stop and think - (1) am I following the procedure correctly, and (2) could I be held responsible if something happens here? I don’t think that’s a grim point, and it certainly isn’t a forum thing, I can guarantee the self-same discussions will have been had in mess rooms around the country.
Sorry no, it’s not that deep; he watched the woman lean against his train and dispatched it becuase he didn’t give a toss. He killed her. Glad it’s made people think though.

Nothing even remotely similar to the incident described in the OP.
 

bramling

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The only possible solution, other than for the driver to do something they consider unsafe, is for the people standing too close to the train to move. Really access to the platform should be restricted if it’s that crowded (admittedly difficult at Farringdon). Highly unusual that the station staff would start arguing with a driver in the manner described. Something I’ve certainly never encountered, nor heard of.



I agree, I get a similar vibe. It’s a very odd scenario that has been described.



Fully agreed re. the James St incident, however there have been other incidents much less clear cut; a guard being prosecuted (and acquitted) for closing doors where an elderly woman fell down the platform edge gap springs to mind. Generally the effect of these incidents is to place the responsibility in the front of one’s mind when dispatching. No bad thing from a safety point of view, but does mean delays like this will likely be more common than a few years ago - especially as passengers (and crowded platforms) are back with a vengeance.

On a related note I do think LU are overdue a high profile trap and drag incident given how “relaxed” their dispatch methods tend to be.

On the latter point, there have certainly been a few such incidents of late, certainly RAIB have been sniffing around them.

LU is a strange one, as they never seem to have fully got their heads round the “train safety check” that the mainline does, which I suspect in part is due to the transition from guards - who monitored the train while departing - to in-cab monitors where again this is possible. Those lines which still run on platform-based mirrors and monitors are kind of left in the middle, and it’s surprising more hasn’t been made of this really. There will I’m sure be a really high-profile incident at some stage, and we can then probably expect LU to grind to a halt when all of a sudden people start doing really detailed train safety checks before moving.

Sorry no, it’s not that deep; he watched the woman lean against his train and dispatched it becuase he didn’t give a toss. He killed her. Glad it’s made people think though.

Nothing even remotely similar to the incident described in the OP.

Just don’t agree with the premise of this. It *seems* that he expected her to move, indeed without re-reading the report ISTR that was stated. Pre that incident I can guarantee that there will have been people on here who will have at least come close to doing that, albeit probably in less clear-cut circumstances - perhaps a busier platform, for example. I’m not sure there’s any basis for saying that he “didn’t give a toss”, as opposed to having made a bad misjudgement of a situation. What the incident has done is made it so people will not be attempting to make such a judgement, they simply won’t contemplate moving the train, which seems to be what the driver at Farringdon has done.
 

357

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There will I’m sure be a really high-profile incident at some stage, and we can then probably expect LU to grind to a halt when all of a sudden people start doing really detailed train safety checks before moving.
At my previous TOC our procedure was to walk down the platform and use the porter buttons to close doors on each coach individually in the event of DOO failure and inability to see the train from the cab (also for trains longer than 8 coaches). As a result of this it could be up to 4 or more minutes since I checked the PTI and closed the doors on the rear coaches before moving the train.

I never thought it was safe and I told my manager that, however the attitude amongst management was at times similar to that of the platform staff in the initial post.

Something will happen there too, and afterwards it will all change.
 

bramling

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At my previous TOC our procedure was to walk down the platform and use the porter buttons to close doors on each coach individually in the event of DOO failure and inability to see the train from the cab (also for trains longer than 8 coaches). As a result of this it could be up to 4 or more minutes since I checked the PTI and closed the doors on the rear coaches before moving the train.

I never thought it was safe and I told my manager that, however the attitude amongst management was at times similar to that of the platform staff in the initial post.

Something will happen there too, and afterwards it will all change.

A difficulty is there is a culture among *some* managements that drivers are being awkward for the sake of it. Which to be fair can certainly be true in some cases, however failure to deal with problem people then allows a culture to build up where it is simply seen to be a case of “awkward driver” rather than a systemic problem. Indeed part of the problem at James Street seems to have been that a culture of appalling passenger behaviour had been allowed to build up in the evenings, with the staff left on their own to try and work around this as best they could. It was probably inevitable that something was going to happen at some point.

The fallout from James Street would have been interesting had the guard followed the dispatch procedure correctly, as the incident would likely still have happened, but the procedure would have then been accountable rather than the individual. I’m not sure how that would have been squared up.
 
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choochoochoo

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Think these types of delays might be a little more frequent should Minimum Service Levels (MSL) be introduced on strike days. Unless TOCs are going to employ crowd control measures onto platforms. The government have been warned that MSL are unsafe.

DOO dispatch can be a tough call. I go with once I've got interlock and I've observed the PTI to be clear, I can take power. If anyone then decides to come into contact with (or very close to) the train, then that's on them. It's usually passengers who think they can stop a train that's just moving off by pressing the door open buttons. (I just don't understand where they get this idea from. I can't think of any other means of transportation where you'd be able to stop it by pressing an external button once it is on the move)

There's a lot more that could be done in terms of passenger education. Lots of trains/platforms have PIS/Advertising screens capable of displaying video. Whilst a few may not pay any attention, even some education is better than none.
 

exbrel

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The Driver is therefore applying the rulebook.
we all know in the present situation ie industrial action, certain actions can although in the rule book, cause a lot of disruption and inconvenience. The driver technically is right, but when in normal times would use his common sence... brings to mind,
"rules are for the obedience of fools, and the guidance of wise men"
 

357

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we all know in the present situation ie industrial action, certain actions can although in the rule book, cause a lot of disruption and inconvenience. The driver technically is right, but when in normal times would use his common sence... brings to mind,
"rules are for the obedience of fools, and the guidance of wise men"
Who says the driver wasn't applying common sense? Were you there/have you seen the CCTV?
 

RPM

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we all know in the present situation ie industrial action, certain actions can although in the rule book, cause a lot of disruption and inconvenience. The driver technically is right, but when in normal times would use his common sence... brings to mind,
"rules are for the obedience of fools, and the guidance of wise men"
There may be times when sticking exactly to the rulebook or company method of work can be used to make a point, but this isn't one of them. DOO drivers are acutely aware that they are always just one step away from standing in the dock facing a manslaughter or negligence charge. The longer the train, the more difficult the DOO dispatch process can be and not all DOO equipment is as good as it could and should be. The only way to protect oneself is to be completely risk-averse. Check, double check, triple check. If there is any doubt in your mind as to whether it is safe to move, then don't move. A punctual departure is very much a secondary consideration.
 

al78

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Sorry no, it’s not that deep; he watched the woman lean against his train and dispatched it becuase he didn’t give a toss. He killed her. Glad it’s made people think though.

Nothing even remotely similar to the incident described in the OP.
Is there any info on this forum about this case, I would be interested to know what the verdict was because I find it incredible that the guard really didn't give a toss to the point of deliberately endangering life. Is there any possibility that the guard looked but didn't see, which is a common cause of collisions on the roads especially between motor vehicles and cyclists.
 

exbrel

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Who says the driver wasn't applying common sense? Were you there/have you seen the CCTV?
no i was not there, but in another life, during industrial action, working to rule was more effective than being on strike, and not as costly... also following the rule book, is a get out of jail card, for practically any action...
 

Purple Train

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also following the rule book, is a get out of jail card, for practically any action...
Aside from the superfluous commas, there is a very obvious basic flaw with that statement (even to a layman) - the rule-book cannot be a get-out-of-jail-free card for any action that is not in the rule-book. It may be a so-called "excuse" for an action that you yourself find ridiculous, but if I may reiterate what has been said on multiple previous occasions on this thread: the delays caused to passengers by the driver refusing to move his train away from a crowded platform for safety reasons will be way less than those that would be caused by a driver moving the train while the dispatch corridor is unsafe and a PTI incident ensuing...
 

bramling

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Is there any info on this forum about this case, I would be interested to know what the verdict was because I find it incredible that the guard really didn't give a toss to the point of deliberately endangering life. Is there any possibility that the guard looked but didn't see, which is a common cause of collisions on the roads especially between motor vehicles and cyclists.

I'm not sure it was ever officially stated that the guard "didn't give a toss". Certainly RAIB thought there was a possibility of looked but did not see. My personal thought is that he simply expected she would move away once the train started moving, probably based on his extensive experience.
 

AlterEgo

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Is there any info on this forum about this case, I would be interested to know what the verdict was because I find it incredible that the guard really didn't give a toss to the point of deliberately endangering life. Is there any possibility that the guard looked but didn't see, which is a common cause of collisions on the roads especially between motor vehicles and cyclists.
The unanimous verdict after just a few hours' deliberation was that the guard was guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence. The chronology is as follows:

In the trial, the guard admitted he was frustrated with the disorderly conduct displayed by passengers on the train (which might be typical of a Liverpool night out). The driver, who was called as a witness, said it was "rowdy". The deceased had previously alighted at Meols and then run back onto the train, after being told by her friends it was the wrong stop. The guard actually got out of his cab there and walked along the platform to intervene personally with this passenger. Later, at James Street, he observed the same passenger leave the train, and then return to it. He delayed the departure momentarily for this reason. She then leaned on the train to say goodbye to a friend in the window, which threatened to make the train even more delayed than it was. At this time the platform is deserted except for her. The guard is seen to clearly look directly at the woman, and then gives the departure signal while she is in contact with the train. The train departs, and she is seen to still be in contact with the train, at which point the guard waves her - and possibly also shouts - to move away. The guard does not give the stop signal - one on the buzzer - at this time. The woman then slips during contact with the train is falls under it, where she suffered an unmentionable injury which meant she was clearly immediately deceased. It is only when she falls that the guard gives the signal to stop.

The judge's sentencing remarks concluded:

"In my judgment, the CCTV footage is unequivocal, Georgia Varley was not moving away and she was not showing any sign of moving away.

"She only moved when the movement of the train deprived her of support and caused her to lose balance and fall to her death.

"I am satisfied that you merely hoped and assumed she would get out of the way when the train began to move, and on that wholly inadequate basis you took a terrible risk."


The original thread is here: https://www.railforums.co.uk/threads/merseyrail-guard-on-trial.74367/ - as a content warning I should say there are some predictably appalling attitudes to the deceased, even on the first page, and some from people who work in safety critical roles on the railway. An illuminating read into how some people view duty of care. Anyway, every so often on this forum, someone will bring up James Street as some sort of injustice against the guard. If you move a train with a passenger leaning on it then you don't give a toss about their safety and that is exactly why the guard was guilty - gross negligence. The end.
 

L401CJF

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Bit of a non-story really. As a guard it is drilled into us from the start, if something doesn't feel safe and we aren't happy with it, we wait. We are under no time pressure at all, it takes as long as it takes.

I've held a train for 10mins myself before due to people on the platform who kept banging on the window to their mates inside. I've given a the driver a call before to say I'm not dispatching from the next stop until everybody is completely off the platform ( most of the train would alight there), all very intoxicated from a festival. He said absolutely agrees 100% so we waited about 5 minutes.

If I get questioned for a delay and the reason is safety related, then that's that, it's not given a second thought. If I dispatch to save a few minutes and kill somebody, then we all know where that ends up.

Well done to the driver, it can be quite difficult when other staff are pressuring you to get gone and you stand your ground because you're not happy. But who's getting the blame if something goes wrong? Not worth it.
 

QueensCurve

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Witnessed the most bizarre incident at Farringdon yesterday evening, which involved GTR platform staff arguing with a driver.

At approximately 17:00, a Down Thameslink train formed of a 12-car Class 700 arrived, being a narrow platform and peak hour it was obviously very busy but nothing unusual for that time of day.

The driver refused to move the train on the grounds that too many people are over the yellow line and it's unsafe to self dispatch, he wouldn't depart until after all passengers have moved back.

Around 10 minutes (yes - 10 minutes!) of sitting idle in the platform, the station staff approached the cab and knocked on the door and began arguing with the driver.

The conversation went along these lines:

"What do you expect us to do? There's two of us and 24 sets of doors - we can't be everywhere at once!"

"The longer you stay here and refuse to move, the more overcrowded it gets. You're just delaying the service."

"Have you seen the Underground platforms? They're worse than us - yet they're self dispatching every minute of the day!"

Despite all these valid points by the platform staff, the driver still refused to move the train, causing an eventual 15 minute delay and backlog in the Thameslink core.

I was so impressed by the logic and rationale of the platform staff, I tapped him on the shoulder and congratulated him on using his common sense, unlike the driver.

Three Bridges ROC and GTR Control must have had a field day with that driver for shutting down the Thameslink Core for quarter of an hour in peak hour. I'd love to read his 'Please Explain' letter...

I'd just like to take a second opportunity to say Well Done to Farringdon platform staff.
Am I alone in thinking we have forgotten the point of the yellow lines? They were introduced in 1976 for platforms passed by trains at more than 100mph because of the concern that the passengers might get sucked off the platform by the vacuum created by the train.
 

Samzino

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On the Class 345s its only 1 button aswell.
From what I've seen, the PCB remains in OFF position and the driver pushes a single ATO START button. I've often wondered if the DSD has to be held down in ATO too.

Strange that it's a single ATO START button because the Underground demand two pressed together to make it a positive action. See the two green buttons.

 

FOH

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Am I alone in thinking we have forgotten the point of the yellow lines? They were introduced in 1976 for platforms passed by trains at more than 100mph because of the concern that the passengers might get sucked off the platform by the vacuum created by the train.
No. See my post #58
 
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