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Author Topic: Thames Valley signalling problems - big delays - July 2014  (Read 82467 times)
a-driver
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« Reply #135 on: July 27, 2014, 04:02:14 pm »

Its not that people in the railway industry find the current service level acceptable but there's very little FGW (First Great Western) can do other than voice there dissatisfaction with the current reliability of the infrastructure and put pressure on Network Rail to sort the situation out.
Network Rail are in a difficult position because the government are constantly slashing there budget or fining them, which serves no benefit to anyone.  Network Rail are basically untouchable.  
In the eyes of the government, privatisation of the industry is considered a success.  The government was well aware that the industry need a significant amount of investment but they were not willing to provide it.  In order to rid them of this problem the industry was privatised and the government effectively washed their hands of it.  No passenger of the railway blames the government, they all blame the private operators. The government has more control of the railway now then when it was British Rail.

The lightning strike on the train was unlucky and something I've never heard of before.  Things like that are rare, there is no point throwing money at something to prevent one days outage in a year or two.  
If the government are serious about rail travel then they need to start showing it and giving Network Rail the funding they require.
I sometimes think passengers assume it is just a piece of rail and a few traffic lights and that's it!

As for a contingency planning.  I can't see how you can viably have a contingency plan for having no signalling through a area whilst maintaining a safe system of working.  
The French recently had two trains collide following a signal failure. Anyone in the UK (United Kingdom) rail industry would question how they manage to end up with two trains in the same signal section.  Initially, you would suspect there is a failure in their rules and procedures when dealing with this.
There's a reason why our rail system is one of the safest systems in the world and that's because everything is fail safe.  There are rules and procedures covering just about every eventuality which maintains safety of everyone using the network during degraded working.

At the end of the day, service outage will always occur if you want to travel on a safe railway network.  No amount of cash will prevent that.
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BBM
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« Reply #136 on: July 27, 2014, 04:02:55 pm »

BBM, how do you determine quickly how long a recovery will taker from a lightning damage? NR» (Network Rail - home page) need to get to site & assess the damage. Only then (and that could take the best part of an hour) might I be willing to agree with your paras above.

How much would it cost to have customer service teams on standby just in case?....be realistic. NR had a large team out at PAD» (Paddington (London) - next trains) on the night, but Friday nights are notorious.

The lightning strike took place at about 1510. I'm talking about the lack of information at 1730 nearly 2.5 hours later. How long is needed to assess the situation?

And I'm not talking about huge customer service teams, just better use of the existing ones. As said elsewhere the 'Ribena Brigade' disappeared and I've also seen reports of BTP (British Transport Police) being unimpressed about the lack of available FGW (First Great Western) staff. Why not do something with the electronic displays? The 'next fastest train' boards just said 'please enquire' next to each destination. Enquire to whom???
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ChrisB
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« Reply #137 on: July 27, 2014, 04:11:22 pm »

The country needs a big debate on how we spend our (limited) taxpayers funds. The NHS is about to go bust (just wait another year or so) - is that more important than funding infrastructure on the railways, for example.

The NHS is a bottomless bucket and could spend every taxpayer ^ given half a chance. So could bringing up the railways to modern standards, and there are many other demands on the taxpayer ^. Or we could borrow it all & have interest rates back to where they were 40 years ago, with everyone screaming that they can't afford to live!

BBM - OK, clear the boards & say "no services out of Paddington until further notice" and only put up a train once it was known to be crewed & ready? Because that was really the only other option. It just wasn't possible to tell someone when the next train to xxx was gong to leave. People do have to use common sense....
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BBM
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« Reply #138 on: July 27, 2014, 04:23:31 pm »

BBM - OK, clear the boards & say "no services out of Paddington until further notice" and only put up a train once it was known to be crewed & ready?

Yes, why not? It's honest and better than the vague lack of information which often happens in times of disruption. So many times in my experience a train has been put on the board when it's not crewed and ready, and later it has to be cancelled.

I know I seem very narked, maybe it's the heat!  Smiley But also I've not long returned from a trip to Chicago where the commuter 'heavy rail' services are nothing to write home about but they are cheap. A monthly pass over a 35-mile distance into central Chicago is $180, about ^105. I've just checked the price of a monthly pass on the Parisian rail network over a 35-mile distance, it's 114 Euros or about ^90.

A monthly season from TWY (Twyford station) to PAD» (Paddington (London) - next trains) is ^320. Why the hell do we pay so much for rail travel here? What's so different in the way taxpayers' money is spent on railways compared to elsewhere?
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a-driver
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« Reply #139 on: July 27, 2014, 04:23:43 pm »

When you send a train out you need there's a lot more to consider than just telling a driver and a train manager to jump on the train on platform 1 and take it to Bristol.

You need to keep track of ALL traincrew and ensure you're abiding by hidden regulations.
You need to ensure that crews are booking off in time that it doesn't affect tomorrow service.  Minimum between 12 hours between shifts
Fuel levels need to be considered, there's no point sending out a train that halfway into its journey someone finds out the tanks are empty.
You need to know where the train will finish up so that enough trains are in the right place for next days service.  All maintenance requirements are met.  Maintenance is carried out strictly based on mileages.
We could go on....

Basically control will make the chain of communication as short as possible in order that they can put efforts in to running as many trains as they can.  There's no point spending 20 minutes telling everyone within the company.  
Controller makes decision, resources crew the train, signallers told at Network Rail, input into the system, announcement at station made... bosh!  Simplest chain of command.
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ChrisB
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« Reply #140 on: July 27, 2014, 04:28:25 pm »

I should go & take a look at Standards of Living/wages amongst the railway workers in those countries & compare to ours.

Bob Crow has done a very good job for his members - you & I are increasingly being asked to pay for them....
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a-driver
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« Reply #141 on: July 27, 2014, 04:29:28 pm »

Quote
A monthly season from TWY (Twyford station) to PAD» (Paddington (London) - next trains) is ^320. Why the hell do we pay so much for rail travel here? What's so different in the way taxpayers' money is spent on railways compared to elsewhere?

^320 isn't that expensive.  Work out the costs by car, fuel alone a day has got to be at least ^7 a day + insurance + car tax + parking + servicing + MOT + depreciation + congestion charge = ??
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« Reply #142 on: July 27, 2014, 04:29:37 pm »

Thanks for all the "experts" for coming along and telling why it couldn't be done as I predicted!

This reminds me of my last assignment, I was part of a team looking into large scale issues in a subsidiary of a large (as it happens state owned) parent.  Those in the business had looked at it and told us on day one that a completely new system and structure would be needed but that the numbers to support doing this didn't add up.  I left a week ago after just over two years, the new system and structure was in place and service levels improved to an acceptable level.  The business case pretty much wrote itself once we had done the analysis.

Sometimes it just needs fresh eyes to come at a problem from a different perspective.  The same people looking to fix the issues they have unsuccessfully been trying to resolve for years will rarely deliver the radical solution that is required.
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ChrisB
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« Reply #143 on: July 27, 2014, 04:39:45 pm »

And it won't while the privatise/nationalise argument continues either.

IF the railways weren't in need of so much investment, I might agree with you more. But there's been decades of underinvestment, while technology has taken off to levels never seen before. It needs serious ^billions of investment, and ultimately there's only one place it can come from - you & I. Either in taxes or fares.
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ChrisB
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« Reply #144 on: July 27, 2014, 04:41:24 pm »

Quote
A monthly season from TWY (Twyford station) to PAD» (Paddington (London) - next trains) is ^320. Why the hell do we pay so much for rail travel here? What's so different in the way taxpayers' money is spent on railways compared to elsewhere?

^320 isn't that expensive.  Work out the costs by car, fuel alone a day has got to be at least ^7 a day + insurance + car tax + parking + servicing + MOT + depreciation + congestion charge = ??

You forgot the NHS. Eating ^billions of taxes that no other country has/does. And about to go bust. Money that other countries pump into their railways
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« Reply #145 on: July 27, 2014, 04:42:33 pm »

You need to keep track of ALL traincrew and ensure you're abiding by hidden regulations.

Just to explain "hidden regulations" they are not as the name would indicate a secret set of regulations but actually a set of regulations put forward by Anthony Hidden QC as part of the 1988 Clapham rail crash enquiry report http://www.railwaysarchive.co.uk/documents/DoT_Hidden001.pdf, these regs have now been overtaken by ROGS "Railways and Other Guided Transport Systems (Safety) Regulations 2006"

What I feel was really unfortunate for FGW (First Great Western) and NR» (Network Rail - home page) on Friday (apart from the actual lightening strike) they were not able to recover the situation, the signal failure the other week at Twyford and a couple of suicides recently they were able to recover quite quickly and get things moving.  I am sure there will a lessons learnt to Friday.  The other event which did not help was the lightening strike at Surbiton effecting SW trains there seems to have been a breakdown in communication between routes.

Information out to passengers is of course very important, after all even us railway staff had our journeys home on Friday effected (and no me turning too and helping would not have been any use, no training in customer relations and geographically in the wrong place to do technical stuff)
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a-driver
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« Reply #146 on: July 27, 2014, 04:43:11 pm »

Thanks for all the "experts" for coming along and telling why it couldn't be done as I predicted!

This reminds me of my last assignment, I was part of a team looking into large scale issues in a subsidiary of a large (as it happens state owned) parent.  Those in the business had looked at it and told us on day one that a completely new system and structure would be needed but that the numbers to support doing this didn't add up.  I left a week ago after just over two years, the new system and structure was in place and service levels improved to an acceptable level.  The business case pretty much wrote itself once we had done the analysis.

Sometimes it just needs fresh eyes to come at a problem from a different perspective.  The same people looking to fix the issues they have unsuccessfully been trying to resolve for years will rarely deliver the radical solution that is required.


This subsidiary of a large parent can control or influence many of the factors involved its business.
The railway is fragmented, under funded, a safety critical operation where ultimate control is the hands of a minister who last week was possibly in charge of education, health etc.
There is no comparison between the two.
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« Reply #147 on: July 27, 2014, 05:08:26 pm »

There goes that mind-set again. That's the one that I am saying need changing before we will see the radical change that we need....
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ChrisB
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« Reply #148 on: July 27, 2014, 05:12:36 pm »

So, change to what, do you suggest?.....
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« Reply #149 on: July 27, 2014, 05:22:51 pm »

That what we have is completely unacceptable and to identify a solution that a persuasive business case can be built for.

Maybe we need to get the guys in who build/manage the network in Germany where I am pretty sure these issues don't occur, standards of living are higher and prices lower.
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