What happens when a railway person is off work sick?

Llanigraham

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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?
Do you realise how long it takes a driver to "learn" a route? And do you realise that to "learn" another route means he is not going to be available for his usual route whilst under instruction?
Signal boxes are the same. They may all look the same, but I wouldn't be allowed to walk into another Box and work it without training. In a simple Gr2 Box that might only take a couple of shifts, but on a big panel..................
I know that when I was off sick for over 12 months it caused all sorts of problems at my Box as I couldn't be replaced until I had finally left.
 
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the sniper

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It can be a major point of contention in some depots. The Chickens sit around Spare doing relatively little while the old hands are constantly jobed. That is unless the Train Crew Supervisor (or equivalent) can intervene and are willing and able to do so (subject to local agreements/practices).
 

Johncleesefan

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I used to love being spare when I was in the starter link at my depot due to the fact I had limited route knowledge so would t be called upon. Nowadays it feels like spare turns don’t exist anymore. Listen to me moaning....
 

Tomnick

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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)
The big difference is that it was entirely my choice! I agreed to do it, to help out, because I felt sufficiently well rested to do it (it was just like the last bit of any other night shift really) and because I had a good relationship with my employer - a world apart from Signalman Holmes, who was effectively *forced* to do a full (12 hour?) turn having had a long, tiring and particularly distressing night traipsing around the countryside.
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?
Well you don’t get a choice, really. Spare turns are built into the link, so when you’re spare, you’re spare. Since the broad intention of those spare turns is to cover for sickness and annual leave etc., they’ll try to use you to cover an open turn, which they’re less likely to be able to do if you don’t have the route knowledge, therefore you’re more likely to remain spare. Those with more route knowledge will probably all already have been used to cover those turns.

You’ll also revert to spare if you don’t sign the routes covered in your booked turn, which again is more likely to happen if you have less route knowledge.

The service recovery (cover) turns to help deal with stuff that develops on the day are also built into the link, so it’s your turn when it’s your turn, but certainly at our place the bulk of the work that you pick up off service recovery is on the local core routes that pretty much everyone signs, doing someone’s last bit when they’ve been delayed in more exotic places on a longer-distance service.
 

Qwerty133

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Do you realise how long it takes a driver to "learn" a route? And do you realise that to "learn" another route means he is not going to be available for his usual route whilst under instruction?
Signal boxes are the same. They may all look the same, but I wouldn't be allowed to walk into another Box and work it without training. In a simple Gr2 Box that might only take a couple of shifts, but on a big panel..................
I know that when I was off sick for over 12 months it caused all sorts of problems at my Box as I couldn't be replaced until I had finally left.
I think its more that the previous poster is suggesting that it would make sense if all of the spare turns were part of the top link at depots where there is a link with full route knowledge in order to provide the most operational flexibility possible.
 

LowLevel

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Pah! Link one lazy b*llocks :lol:

The only reason most depots have a work goes to senior bod rule is to get them extra wonga back when mileage money was a thing.

Where I am the junior guards have to sign everything before they qualify with the senior bods being rather less endowed with route knowledge.

I sign very nearly every route the company serves in my pay grade including diversions excluding a couple of limited service routes that only one depot covers.
It can be a major point of contention in some depots. The Chickens sit around Spare doing relatively little while the old hands are constantly jobed. That is unless the Train Crew Supervisor (or equivalent) can intervene and are willing and able to do so (subject to local agreements/practices).
 

ForTheLoveOf

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I sign very nearly every route the company serves in my pay grade including diversions excluding a couple of limited service routes that only one depot covers.
How many miles is that in total then, roughly? And how the hell do you remember it all! o_O
 

Mintona

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I think its more that the previous poster is suggesting that it would make sense if all of the spare turns were part of the top link at depots where there is a link with full route knowledge in order to provide the most operational flexibility possible.
The problem with being spare is that you don’t know what time you’re going to be starting or finishing work until the week in question, and I can’t imagine more senior drivers being impressed at being made spare all the time and not ever really being sure what they’re going to be doing. In addition, to add more spares to a link you’ll need to either increase the size of the link or remove some work from it, and both of those will involve a good deal of route learning for people in lower links.
 

bionic

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Well fork ! Every day is a school day.

When the go through the school, do they not sit the networker traction course ? Also, I thought the new rule was that every new Trainee has to pass all traction ? Hence some new Metro Trainees having 375 on their cards.
I don't know about that, but it seems a bit pointless training people on traction they'll never drive. I knew Hastings drivers didn't sign 465s (they aren't cleared past Tunbridge Wells anyway) but it was news to me that Ramsgate didn't.

I know Dover sign networkers as I was once subjected to a Saturday morning rant from a Dover old hand about how he's got to drive from the "dummy end" of a two car all the way to the coast and what the #*%@ are the company playing at sending a 75mph limited train to the coast anyway when they've got a yard full of 375 not doing anything! :D
 

craigybagel

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At one of my employers driver depots, there are two links - the only difference being the more "senior" link signs one extra traction. Many of the senior drivers don't actually like being in that link as the jobs that involve the extra traction are all very long - and they're more likely to pick up jobs off spare. Recently a couple of vacancies opened up in that link and they ended up going to rather junior drivers as none of the senior drivers in the lower link wanted to move.
On the guards side, there is only one depot that signs that traction and a large part of the route it works over, and the depot itself is fairly small (36 guards). Last minute sickness can result in some very creative swapping of jobs between depots to make sure the job involving that special stock, which involves a very high profile service that is given top priority, is covered.
 

ComUtoR

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I don't know about that, but it seems a bit pointless training people on traction they'll never drive.
It's another clever idea. I think the reasoning behind it is that too many Drivers transfer and that it is costing the company in time and money when they need traction courses for their new depot. It also allows better movement between links and again you save paying full Driver money and using rest days to cover the training. It also pushes all the costs to the training school budget and not the operations one. The school is changing and its anybody's guess as to what will happen in the long term. I spoke with a Trainer and they have access to a Network Rail yard and are planing to do more traction and other onboard training with it as they can't get decent access to the yards anymore.

I asked if traction knowledge expires and I've been told it doesn't and that once you sign it, you keep it. Not sure how that works in reality.

Personally, the cynic in me is thinking there is some kind of long term plan in place. Networkers will eventually go to heaven and I think we all suspect a complete reshuffle of depots and routes etc.
 

bionic

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I asked if traction knowledge expires and I've been told it doesn't and that once you sign it, you keep it. Not sure how that works in reality.
Who ever told you that is having a laugh. If you signed a traction twenty years ago and never drove it since, they are saying you are still competent to drive it today? No way.

It doesn't surprise me that they would try that on but its complete rubbish.
 

Dai Corner

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Who ever told you that is having a laugh. If you signed a traction twenty years ago and never drove it since, they are saying you are still competent to drive it today? No way.

It doesn't surprise me that they would try that on but its complete rubbish.
Witness all the TfW drivers re-learning Cl 37 for the Rhymney line.
 

Mintona

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I’d like to see a situation where all drivers at a depot sign all routes and traction. Would be so much easier all round surely.
 

Tomnick

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A quick fag packet for mine comes out at 139.175 miles. And thats our entire metro area and beyond !
Quickly banging mine into Railmiles brings it the route mileage out at 319 miles and 3 chains, with another chunk of road learning hopefully in the not-too-distant future that'll take it to 548m14ch, but you probably still have far more signals! To answer the question above, though, I find it all easy enough to remember by going over it regularly enough, with a bit of effort to keep things like crossing names fresh in the memory, and that's partly why not (at large depots at least) not everyone signs every route - sometimes there's just not enough work over some routes to share around (about 80 miles of my current route card consists of diversionary routes with very little, if any, booked work). We've just lost one route out of our link because it was being shared too thinly.
 

Bromley boy

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I don't know about that, but it seems a bit pointless training people on traction they'll never drive. I knew Hastings drivers didn't sign 465s (they aren't cleared past Tunbridge Wells anyway) but it was news to me that Ramsgate didn't.

I know Dover sign networkers as I was once subjected to a Saturday morning rant from a Dover old hand about how he's got to drive from the "dummy end" of a two car all the way to the coast and what the #*%@ are the company playing at sending a 75mph limited train to the coast anyway when they've got a yard full of 375 not doing anything! :D
I would imagine the DTOSL end of a 466 is nice and quiet. :D

There are drivers with coastal route knowledge who also sign 376s which are driven down to Ramsgate for maintenance because Slade Green is fully occupied looking after the networkers.

I don’t know for sure but I imagine it’s Gillingham drivers since that depot has a fair bit of metro work and will sign them anyway.
 

Aictos

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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.
London Overground do this with their platform staff as you can be rostered to work at a specific station then you travel to local stations on that line to act as a meal break relief for the various ticket offices even though you don’t sell tickets but just do information.
 

hooverboy

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I’d like to see a situation where all drivers at a depot sign all routes and traction. Would be so much easier all round surely.
hence why driver satnav is needed as soon as possible!
not just that, but think how much easier the job will be for present drivers in case of inclement weather etc obstructing a clear view of signalling ahead.
If you already have in cab a tool which tells you which path you are taking, advance speed limits/signals at caution etc, I would see that as a MASSIVE help.NWR could even programme in temporary engineering works etc,rathe than the driver having to go by a crib sheet
 
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Bromley boy

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hence why driver satnav is needed as soon as possible!
not just that, but think how much easier the job will be for present drivers in case of inclement weather etc obstructing a clear view of signalling ahead.
If you already have in cab a tool which tells you which path you are taking, advance speed limits/signals at caution etc, I would see that as a MASSIVE help.NWR could even programme in temporary engineering works etc,rathe than the driver having to go by a crib sheet
ERTMS does all of the above, and has the advantage of working in tunnels,
unlike sat nav. :D
 

Dai Corner

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hence why driver satnav is needed as soon as possible!
not just that, but think how much easier the job will be for present drivers in case of inclement weather etc obstructing a clear view of signalling ahead.
If you already have in cab a tool which tells you which path you are taking, advance speed limits/signals at caution etc, I would see that as a MASSIVE help.NWR could even programme in temporary engineering works etc,rathe than the driver having to go by a crib sheet
The next step would be to do away with the biological interface between the navigation system and controls......
 

Tomnick

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hence why driver satnav is needed as soon as possible!
not just that, but think how much easier the job will be for present drivers in case of inclement weather etc obstructing a clear view of signalling ahead.
If you already have in cab a tool which tells you which path you are taking, advance speed limits/signals at caution etc, I would see that as a MASSIVE help.NWR could even programme in temporary engineering works etc,rathe than the driver having to go by a crib sheet
Like this?

During the morning of Friday 20 October 2017, a train driver travelling on the Cambrian coast line in North Wales reported that long standing temporary speed restrictions were not indicated on their in-cab display. As signalling staff at the control centre in Machynlleth investigated this report, they became aware that this failure applied to several trains under their control. The temporary speed restrictions were required on the approach to level crossings so that people crossing the line had sufficient warning of an approaching train.
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/loss-of-speed-restrictions-on-the-cambrian-line

There’s no substitute for good route knowledge, not yet at least, in my opinion.
 

muz379

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Speaking from a traincrew pov this is what happens but will be dependent on local and toc specific agreements .
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.
So say Im due to book on tomorrow at 05:00 and ring in sick now Sunday evening at 21:00 the shift manager will try and cover my work tomorrow .At my TOC There are a ratio of standby train-crew who cannot be marked to any work on the roster posted 4 days before the day in question . So if there is a member of standby train-crew who can catch all of my job they will be given it when they book on . If not they might be given part of it , and another spare on the day or standby guard given it . Sometimes on standby you might be offered financial inducement to stay and cover a full uncovered turn if it doesn't take you over 12 hrs or within 12 hrs of your next booked turn . Obviously this is down to personal preference and the desperation on the company side for cover

There might also be a number of guards available spare on the day for a variety of reasons such as being spare in the roster and have not been moved to a job , just resumed from sickness so someone else has been brought in rest day to do their job or they might not sign their job so have been marked spare .

If all standby and spare cover is utilised at the depot then if other depots guards sign the routes and traction involved then cross cover can be asked for from other depots .

As a last resort if no cover can be obtained then the trains uncovered will be cancelled .

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)
Once it goes beyond the first day of sickness rosters will then endeavour to cover my work . So as well as standby turns we also have spare turns fixed into our base roster . With spare turns we can be moved around and marked to longer jobs upto 4 days before the day in question when the daily sheet is posted so fairly often when you are shown spare in the link you will actually find yourself marked to a full job to cover AL/Sickness/people restricted from duty etc . Rosters can then also bring people in on rest day to cover the turns .

If there is a shortage of available cover then my job would be uncovered and unless they can be covered on the day as above trains will be cancelled


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.
Ive known of cases of it happening at big locations and even with a lot more spare and standby cover it can cause localised issues running trains . Particularly with routes or traction that only one depot or a small number at that depot sign .
 

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