What happens when a railway person is off work sick?

Ken H

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I ended up in hospital last year with acute appendicitis. I spent 9 days in hospital, and it was 2 months before I was back at work full time.

When I signed back on to the computer system, the stuff I had being doing had been left even though it was required urgently. Its not safety related - it was financial reporting software, so not a biggy. But the manager had no spare staff to pick up my stuff, get to understand it and move it forward.

But at a small railway signing on point, or a remote signalbox, what happens when someone rostered calls in sick. Somewhere small. (I am thinking of somewhere like Skipton where 20 drivers and 20 conductors will be signing on early. or remote locations like Garsdale or Kirby Stephen signalboxes)
Do they ring round trying to get people to work an extra shift? or have spare staff? or just cancel trains.

And what effect does it have when someone is going to have to be off for a month? They could throw the rosters into a complete mess.
(And I know rostering is difficult because of different traction and route knowledge)

lastly, what happens when a bug goes through a signing on point? Losing some of your staff due to a tummy bug must also play havoc with rostering.
 
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Rockhopper

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I'd imagine there would be a relief signaller able to take over. I was told recently that in terms of working extra shifts they will always stick to the twelve hours rest between shifts rule no matter what.
 

LowLevel

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You have spare and service recovery people built into the roster to cover sickness and leave. If there's exceptional levels people are asked if they will work overtime.

For example at my depot there's 4 shifts scheduled to start at a given time spread over a day with no work allocated specifically to cover short notice sickness or recover the service following delay.
 

Ken H

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You have spare and service recovery people built into the roster to cover sickness and leave. If there's exceptional levels people are asked if they will work overtime.

For example at my depot there's 4 shifts scheduled to start at a given time spread over a day with no work allocated specifically to cover short notice sickness or recover the service following delay.
how many 'starts' are there a day. wondering what proportion of staff are 'spare'
I assume you have been rostered as spare. how much of spare trips do you actually work trains? do you use spare shifts to catch up on reading notices etc?
 

DarloRich

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But at a small railway signing on point, or a remote signalbox, what happens when someone rostered calls in sick. Somewhere small. (I am thinking of somewhere like Skipton where 20 drivers and 20 conductors will be signing on early. or remote locations like Garsdale or Kirby Stephen signalboxes)
Do they ring round trying to get people to work an extra shift? or have spare staff? or just cancel trains.
you manage it as best you can with what you have in your locker. All three of your options are a possibility.
 

Llanigraham

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I'd imagine there would be a relief signaller able to take over. I was told recently that in terms of working extra shifts they will always stick to the twelve hours rest between shifts rule no matter what.
There SHOULD be spare signallers (Relief) available, but if someone goes sick at short notice it is quite possible that the Relief has already been rostered elsewhere to cover sickness/annual leave/training etc. Then in general there are panic phone calls to other residents to see if they will come in and cover or they will look at what MOM's are on duty to see if they can cover it. I can think of 2 occasions on my old line that they had to close it for a short time when no-one could be found immediately.

As for the 12 hours, then yes they will invariably stick to the 12 hour rest required but personally I once stayed on for an extra hour to see if a replacement could be found when my relief got stuck in snow and couldn't get in.
 

LowLevel

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how many 'starts' are there a day. wondering what proportion of staff are 'spare'
I assume you have been rostered as spare. how much of spare trips do you actually work trains? do you use spare shifts to catch up on reading notices etc?
It varies per depot and there's an agreed percentage of spare coverage.

If you're say 0600 spare on the roster you might be allocated an entire job, in fact you usually will be (you can be moved an agreed amount so might be allocated for example a diagram that is 0637 to 1637).

If you're not allocated work before the day you turn up and sit around. If they need you to do something they ring you and you do it. If you're not needed you go home in the end and might not work anything. Your time is yours within reason.

Service recovery turns are their owned booked diagram and shouldn't (in theory) be booked work before the day - they're designed to be used to cover short notice issues.
 

pdeaves

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For signal boxes, often (always?) a local MOM (mobile operations manager) is competent to cover. Meanwhile, there is usually frantic phoning around to find someone who can and will cover the rest of the shift so the MOM can carry on doing other MOM things.
 

hooverboy

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For signal boxes, often (always?) a local MOM (mobile operations manager) is competent to cover. Meanwhile, there is usually frantic phoning around to find someone who can and will cover the rest of the shift so the MOM can carry on doing other MOM things.
would seem sensible to have floating cover,able to travel from site to site(within a locale) and cover for lunch breaks (if staggered)
that way the relief crew keep a bit of "used in anger" experience and would not be such an issue covering an 8-10 hour shift if called upon.

there is only so much tea-drinking and youtube watching you can do before you start to feel a bit rusty.
 

Qwerty133

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Service recovery turns are their owned booked diagram and shouldn't (in theory) be booked work before the day - they're designed to be used to cover short notice issues.
Presumably when there is major disruption that lasts several days but is somewhat predictable after the first few hours even those turns could be allocated work the night before once it becomes known what will best recover the service (or sustain some level of service where recovery is clearly not going to happen).
 

Sandy2

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I've heard of one case recently where the rostered signaller was taken ill without a replacement being available. The branch in question was closed for the day with all services cancelled!
 

LowLevel

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Presumably when there is major disruption that lasts several days but is somewhat predictable after the first few hours even those turns could be allocated work the night before once it becomes known what will best recover the service (or sustain some level of service where recovery is clearly not going to happen).
In practice should attempts to cover the work through overtime, cross depot cover etc fail the service recovery bods will be given the work rather than cancel trains.

Doesn't have to be major disruption, it happens in any circumstances. Sometimes you just can't cover a job and have to use the service recovery turns.
 

Mintona

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I booked on 08.45 spare today. But the 10.00 to the big city needed a driver so I drove that. Found out when I booked on I was needed to do it.
 

Tomnick

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I once had to tell Control that I wouldn't be able to come in for my early turn (05.00 start) at a rural signal box, as I'd spent most of the night in A&E with the little 'un. By the time it became apparent that I wouldn't be sufficiently rested, it was far too late to start ringing around to try and cover it with rest day work. The MOM couldn't do it - the night turn started at 18.00 the previous evening, so needed to be back at the depot (over half an hour away) by 06.00 at the latest, and the early turn MOM wouldn't book on until 06.00. After some negotiation, I agreed to go in to get the box opened, on the understanding that I'd be relieved as soon as the early turn MOM could get out there. Job done. There's nearly always a way, even if it requires a slightly unconventional approach. You can have all the spares you like, but it's often far too complex a problem to have a simple answer, unfortunately!
 

Highlandspring

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would seem sensible to have floating cover,able to travel from site to site(within a locale) and cover for lunch breaks (if staggered)
that way the relief crew keep a bit of "used in anger" experience and would not be such an issue covering an 8-10 hour shift if called upon.

there is only so much tea-drinking and youtube watching you can do before you start to feel a bit rusty.
Relief signallers are just the same as resident signallers but without a fixed shift pattern. They don’t need “used in anger experience” as you put it because they get it every single shift.
 

bramling

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I ended up in hospital last year with acute appendicitis. I spent 9 days in hospital, and it was 2 months before I was back at work full time.

When I signed back on to the computer system, the stuff I had being doing had been left even though it was required urgently. Its not safety related - it was financial reporting software, so not a biggy. But the manager had no spare staff to pick up my stuff, get to understand it and move it forward.

But at a small railway signing on point, or a remote signalbox, what happens when someone rostered calls in sick. Somewhere small. (I am thinking of somewhere like Skipton where 20 drivers and 20 conductors will be signing on early. or remote locations like Garsdale or Kirby Stephen signalboxes)
Do they ring round trying to get people to work an extra shift? or have spare staff? or just cancel trains.

And what effect does it have when someone is going to have to be off for a month? They could throw the rosters into a complete mess.
(And I know rostering is difficult because of different traction and route knowledge)

lastly, what happens when a bug goes through a signing on point? Losing some of your staff due to a tummy bug must also play havoc with rostering.
As others have said, in the first instance spares are used. Failing that another depot may be asked, or someone brought in on overtime (if this is within agreements). If the sickness goes longer term then cover staff may be used, depending on the local arrangements.

This can become the subject of considerable bad-feeling when people find they “running for someone else”.

In some other grades such as incident response and management it’s often the case that other staff are tacitly expected to simply absorb the extra workload. Again this leads to bad feeling when people form the opinion “we’re having to carry so and so because management can’t manage him properly”.
 

jamesst

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Well in our depot we have variable lines where people can be marked to earlies or lates for a week. This is cover long term sickness and annual leave.
Then it goes to the spares who are used to cover short term sickness, training etc. Then we're onto the standbys who are used to cover turns on the day itself.
If all that fails that's where drivers from other depots or in extreme cases managers come in.
After that you're looking at cancellations.
 

Metal_gee_man

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I booked on 08.45 spare today. But the 10.00 to the big city needed a driver so I drove that. Found out when I booked on I was needed to do it.
Would I be correct in suggesting you don't become a spare unless you are fully trained on all the possible routes and rolling stock from that depot, as I know some SE drivers at Ashford are maybe signed off the via Maidstone East to Victoria services with 377s but ask them to go via Tonbridge to Charing Cross with a 375 or a 465 they can't do it! Meaning experience has its perks i.e sat on your bum all day
 

Mintona

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Would I be correct in suggesting you don't become a spare unless you are fully trained on all the possible routes and rolling stock from that depot, as I know some SE drivers at Ashford are maybe signed off the via Maidstone East to Victoria services with 377s but ask them to go via Tonbridge to Charing Cross with a 375 or a 465 they can't do it! Meaning experience has its perks i.e sat on your bum all day
No, that isn’t the case. I don’t sign all the routes my depot goes via (although I do sign all the routes in my link). All railway rosters (that I’ve seen) have spares in them, I’m in a link with less seniority so I don’t have as many routes to worry about. You often find it is the less senior drivers who are more likely to be unused spares, because they don’t have the route knowledge that the more senior drivers do and so aren’t as ‘useful’.
 

bionic

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This can become the subject of considerable bad-feeling when people find they “running for someone else”.
If the person is a known p*sstaker then yes, but in most cases staff will happily run for colleagues who are off for genuine reasons.

Due to the fact rest day working is pretty much permanently sanctioned, the basic cover available is bare minimum. The vast bulk of rostered spares will be booked a full turn in advance. Now, if there were more rostered cover staff rather than this perpetual reliance on RDW.......
 

ComUtoR

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but ask them to go via Tonbridge to Charing Cross with a 375 or a 465 they can't do it! Meaning experience has its perks i.e sat on your bum all day
That would be down to the route, not the traction. Other than HS1; all Drivers at Southeastern sign 465s. If you sign 377s then you sign 375s. 377s are new stock to SE and the 377s are a conversion course from 375s.

I think you also have your example a bit backwards. I'm not sure how you get from having more experience, signing more routes and traction as sitting around on you bum all day. In your example the people with the least experience is the one who can't do the work so will end up sitting about.

'spare' differs across the TOCs but is generally used for rostering flexibility so you tend to get booked in advance to cover operational stuff. We have a 'Cover' turn that is booked to sit about and is use for last minute cover and anything as required on the day to 'cover' the service. Also known as 'As required' Different TOCs use different methods but there is usually two kinds of 'spare' turns. One usually being something as a booked diagram specifically for 'in case of emergency, wake up the cover man'
 

Ken H

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As others have said, in the first instance spares are used. Failing that another depot may be asked, or someone brought in on overtime (if this is within agreements). If the sickness goes longer term then cover staff may be used, depending on the local arrangements.

This can become the subject of considerable bad-feeling when people find they “running for someone else”.

In some other grades such as incident response and management it’s often the case that other staff are tacitly expected to simply absorb the extra workload. Again this leads to bad feeling when people form the opinion “we’re having to carry so and so because management can’t manage him properly”.
I wasnt suggesting staff were swinging the lead in my OP, BTW. People really do get ill, often without warning. I had a full set of bloods done in feb 2018, all came back normal, but I was brewing acute appendicitis, and had probably had a diseased gall bladder for over 5 years. All OK now :)
 

Ken H

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I once had to tell Control that I wouldn't be able to come in for my early turn (05.00 start) at a rural signal box, as I'd spent most of the night in A&E with the little 'un. By the time it became apparent that I wouldn't be sufficiently rested, it was far too late to start ringing around to try and cover it with rest day work. The MOM couldn't do it - the night turn started at 18.00 the previous evening, so needed to be back at the depot (over half an hour away) by 06.00 at the latest, and the early turn MOM wouldn't book on until 06.00. After some negotiation, I agreed to go in to get the box opened, on the understanding that I'd be relieved as soon as the early turn MOM could get out there. Job done. There's nearly always a way, even if it requires a slightly unconventional approach. You can have all the spares you like, but it's often far too complex a problem to have a simple answer, unfortunately!
Reminiscent of Signalman James Holmes who was exhausted after nursing his child and walking the neighbourhood looking for the doctor. And thats how the Thirsk 1892 accident came about.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1892_Thirsk_rail_crash
(Not suggesting you were wrong in your actions BTW)
 

Ken H

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That would be down to the route, not the traction. Other than HS1; all Drivers at Southeastern sign 465s. If you sign 377s then you sign 375s. 377s are new stock to SE and the 377s are a conversion course from 375s.

I think you also have your example a bit backwards. I'm not sure how you get from having more experience, signing more routes and traction as sitting around on you bum all day. In your example the people with the least experience is the one who can't do the work so will end up sitting about.

'spare' differs across the TOCs but is generally used for rostering flexibility so you tend to get booked in advance to cover operational stuff. We have a 'Cover' turn that is booked to sit about and is use for last minute cover and anything as required on the day to 'cover' the service. Also known as 'As required' Different TOCs use different methods but there is usually two kinds of 'spare' turns. One usually being something as a booked diagram specifically for 'in case of emergency, wake up the cover man'
surely the best people to have as spares are senior staff. They will have more traction and route knowledge, I would have thought.

Are any agencies offering locum train staff. Not sure how that would work..??? Locums are what keeps the NHS working though.
 

Metal_gee_man

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That would be down to the route, not the traction. Other than HS1; all Drivers at Southeastern sign 465s. If you sign 377s then you sign 375s. 377s are new stock to SE and the 377s are a conversion course from 375s.

I think you also have your example a bit backwards. I'm not sure how you get from having more experience, signing more routes and traction as sitting around on you bum all day. In your example the people with the least experience is the one who can't do the work so will end up sitting about.

'spare' differs across the TOCs but is generally used for rostering flexibility so you tend to get booked in advance to cover operational stuff. We have a 'Cover' turn that is booked to sit about and is use for last minute cover and anything as required on the day to 'cover' the service. Also known as 'As required' Different TOCs use different methods but there is usually two kinds of 'spare' turns. One usually being something as a booked diagram specifically for 'in case of emergency, wake up the cover man'
So you are telling me a new driver with route knowledge of only one route is a better spare than someone that is signed off for all routes from that depot?
So when you get the call can you take 1C18 to Victoria and you have to say sorry I'm only signed off for Charing Cross that driver is better as a spare than someone who can cover it all?
 

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