For tonight’s little bit of overtime, I travel to Luton (via high speed services) to drive a train back down to Gillingham.
Total on-shift time is 4hrs 40mins, so a lovely bit of work to do on a rest day.
It’s route knowledge like this that we need to maintain for that one time we end up having to do a move that we’re not ordinarily familiar with.
The booked taxi arrived early (a new, electric London Black Cab) and the driver was keen to get back home to Essex after dropping me off, so I ended up getting home 40 minutes earlier than I was due to book off at the depot 👍🏻
I’m working overtime again tonight, but covering part of a Luton job only.
It’s my last early turn today (yay!).
03:12 start; walk to the depot, prepare a unit, bring it out into Gillingham station, drive to Luton, have a break and then drive back to Gillingham.
We had heavy rain last night and even at 03.00, it’s really muggy and misty. The smell in the air is amazing.
As I type this, it’s now beginning to rain again.
There was a power failure near Greenwich earlier so I had to divert from Charlton, staying on the Up North Kent though Blackheath and then stopping at Lewisham before continuing on to London Bridge.
I’ve not driven this diversionary before (I know it from route training videos) and was surprised at how long Blackheath Tunnel was 😂
This made me 13 minutes late at London Bridge so I was instructed to run fast from St. Pancras to St. Albans to make up my time.
Very early start today (03:44). I had to prepare a unit and bring it out of the depot and into the platform at Gillingham.
I drive to Luton, have a break and then drive back down to Gillingham.
I’ve been playing around with the lidar on my phone and used it to make a quick 3D scan of the cab in one of our trains (class 700).
Today’s job is a long one but broken up sufficiently.
Drive Gillingham to Rainham to Gillingham, wait an hour, drive Gillingham to Rainham to Gillingham, wait 2 hours, drive to Luton and straight back to Dartford before travelling back to Gillingham.
I managed to do a colleague a favour in the first break and did his last turnaround for him, so he got to go home 30 minutes early.
So far, I’ve driven 3 trains but not really gone anywhere 😂
“On call” today (since 05:30) and for the first time ever, there’s absolutely no chance of being called in because no trains are running 😁
I was supposed to be early spare at work tomorrow (05:30) and one other person is the late spare. Everyone else rostered to work tomorrow is “on call”, because we don’t have any trains running from our depot due to widespread engineering works.
I had a chat with our resource manager and asked if I could be “on call” too, seeing as I’ll be of no use to the northern part of the network (there’s 4 depots on the northern part of the network).
I’m now “on call” tomorrow 😬
Tonight, I berthed my train in the Rochester Down Loop. The Rochester Up and Down Loops are at the “old” Rochester station, which closed in 2015 after the “new” station was completed 500m closer to Rochester.
Nowadays, the platforms at the “old” station are accessed via a series of locked gates and walkways.
More information on the “old” and “new” Rochester stations can be found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rochester_railway_station?wprov=sfti1 https://maps.apple.com/?ll=51.389040,0.506890&q=Rochester%20railway%20station&_ext=EiQpzLEmEMyxSUAxADiQa3E44D85zLEmEMyxSUBBADiQa3E44D8%3D
It’s not often that things get as disrupted as they did yesterday but when it happens, it definitely keeps you on your toes!
I forgot to mention that prior to the disruption, two little scroats thought it would be funny to pull two emergency egress handles at Slade Green on the way to Luton. This delayed me by 7 minutes as I had to go back and reset the handles (one was in the rearmost carriage).
All in all, yesterday was a break from the norm.
I’ve been offered overtime for tomorrow and it’s the perfect little job.
Travel to Luton, have a break and drive a train back to Gillingham before taking it into the depot for the night.
It’s a “special” turn (not a regular job, but a one-off or very short-term job created due to a temporary timetable or a change in staff availability) which is 7 hours long.
Looking at the timings, if I’m on time when I finish back at Blackfriars, I can get back to St. Pancras just in time for the High Speed service to Gillingham (I’ll have only 5 minutes to get from the low level platforms up to the high level platforms) and get back 1.5 hours early 👍🏻
As I passed through St. John’s Wood on diversion earlier, I spotted a woman and a child on the platform.
The woman was sat on a bench with her back to my line and the child, approximately 5 or 6 years old, appeared to be waving at me.
As I was about to toot and wave back, I realised that this child was actually giving me the finger!!
I have no idea what parenting skills result in a very young child giving the finger to random people 😮
In an unexpected turn earlier, I got diverted via the Bexleyheath line (we usually go via Greenwich) after leaving the last station passengers could change at. This was due to a broken-down train at Woolwich Arsenal.
We only serve the Bexleyheath line during scheduled engineering works or unplanned disruption, but it’s important that we maintain our knowledge of this line (stations, speeds, signals etc) just in case this happens.
There’s lots of engineering works going on today, so our service is only running between Gravesend and London Bridge (platform 6!).
Today, my job involves travelling in a taxi to Dartford, travelling on a train to London Bridge, bringing that train back to Dartford, have my break, take a train to Gravesend, take it back to London Bridge, take it back to Dartford and then get a taxi back to the depot.
This is the alternative route I could have been given out of platform 6 and is very different to our usual route.
Speaking with a colleague, he was given the more unusual routes in and out of London Bridge and he’d not used those ways in and out of platform 6 before either. Even though we know where we can and can’t go, we’re still on our toes when something is different to the norm!
Don’t forget that although this all looks lovely and simple drawn out in straight lines as a map, the tracks in and out of London Bridge don’t look like this in real life! There are curves and structures, plenty of different signage, other trains on the move and lots of signals on overhead gantries!
The reality is that this section of our route is incredibly busy and more complicated than it looks on paper!
I made it into platform 6 without any problems. There are two ways in which we can be routed here and I was routed via the simplest way (less deviation from the route into platform 5).
I’m now not out for a while but we’re not allowed to leave the train unattended here so I have to stay in the cab.
Here’s a photo of my train with a famous London landmark.
Our services are only running from Rainham to London Bridge today.
I’ve terminated at London Bridge in platforms 2 and 5 before, but today it appears we’re going into platform 6, which I’ve never been in before.
Even though platform 6 is next to platform 5, the way in and out is very different which is why maintaining route knowledge is paramount. There’s many places where I can potentially be wrong-routed if I’m not paying attention.
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