Projects, refurbs and upgrades

Wi-Fi tracked?

Published on: Tue, 28/05/2019 - 17:22

The press has recently reported TfL’s plan to track all wi-fi enabled devices through the Tube system, to measure passenger flows.

This technology could lead to important data gathering, which improves safety and staff deployment. But there’s also a risk it could be used nefariously, either for advertising purposes or even to track individuals’ movements.

If the technology is implemented, it needs to be within strict limits that ensures it can’t be used in a way that compromises privacy.

Tubeworker topics

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Familiar Names in Hong Kong Train Collision

Published on: Tue, 19/03/2019 - 15:51

MTR - which has the contract to run Crossrail - has come a-cropper in Hong Kong, as its trial of new signalling systems came off the rails.

Two subway tains collided between Central and Admiralty stations during an early morning test run on Monday before start of traffic. Both drivers were taken to hospital, with one suffering leg injuries.

It looks like the fault was in the software, which is supplied by another name familiar to Tube workers: Thales.

The incident is being seen as damaging to MTR Corp’s reputation, following a series of scandals and a top management reshuffle in the last year. But will this latest cock-up make TfL rethink its policy of contracting-out crticial functions to private companies? Or will our intrepid bosses carry on regardless?

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4LM Delayed

Published on: Wed, 05/12/2018 - 01:00

The "Four Lines Modernisation" (4LM) upgrade on the District, Met, Circle, and H and C missed the 17/18 November "go live" date for the first phase of automatic train operation.

There have been numerous problems with Thales' new signalling system, including more than one train entering a signalling section at once during a simulated test. It has now been put back to next year. By 2018, Bombardier was supposed to complete the entire upgrade - before it pulled out of its contract, costing TfL £85 million. Thales doesn't seem to be seem to be delivering on its promises either.

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The Great Train Sale

Published on: Fri, 19/01/2018 - 00:08

London Underground plans to sell off some of its trains so it can raise £875 million to pay for new Piccadilly Line trains. Once sold, LU will rent the trains back in order to keep running its services. Long-term LU will end up spending far more in rent to a private company than if it had paid for the new Piccadilly train upgrade directly.

We know this is a flawed model because it's used on national rail where Train Operating Companies lease their rolling stock from separate company. This is similar to Private Finance Initiatives that have crippled schools and hospitals with debt and drained the public purse into private hands.

The government must restore direct funding to TfL before such costly schemes bleed TfL dry!

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IM Emergency?

Published on: Wed, 28/06/2017 - 01:08

LU staff are being told to contact IM (IT) services only in an "emergency". IM services are apparently too short staffed to deal with routine queries.

Hardly surprising! LU decided that iPads and apps were the answer to everything. Tubeworker wonders how many extra IT staff were hired to support all the new technology? Clearly not enough if we're having to beg for IT support.

We have no problem with the introduction of technology. By all means, LU, move with the times. But make sure the technology is properly resourced and functional. At the moment, LU seems more interested in using technology as a cost-saver: cutting staff numbers while claiming we're all more "mobile" and "multi-skilled" because we carry an LU iPad... half of the apps on which don't work!

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Goldfish Bowl Woes

Published on: Sun, 23/04/2017 - 23:40

The “Goldfish Bowl” facility used by drivers at Elephant and Castle is increasingly unfit for use.

There are vermin traps in every corner, dirt and mould up the walls, and a disgusting smell that seems to have seeped into the tiles.

Does LU think so little of workers’ dignity that it wants us to take our breaks in conditions like this?

Union reps are pushing for a full refurb. Basic dignity at work is non-negotiable.

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Wot No Car Park?

Published on: Thu, 12/01/2017 - 14:18

Staff who use Tottenham Hale's station car park have been shocked and angered to find that it has closed - and that management have known about this for ages but told them with only a week's notice.

The excuse is that the space is needed for taxis due to the Tottenham Hale Upgrade Project. Apparently, the combined imaginations of all the planners, managers and contract bosses involved in the upgrade could not come up with any possible plan that would retain the 12 parking spaces for LUL staff.

LUL management knew that the car park would be scrapped in October, but made a deliberate decision not to consult local union reps or tell staff until they confirmed their 'temporary alternative' of an insufficient five parking spaces.

The car parking facility has been there a long time, and facilities like this often influence staff's preference for our work location. And with the inadequacy of staff taxis and public transport, the car park is indispensible for some.

Management wail that the project won't pay for alternative parking facilities, but that's not on: if it takes away any of our facilities. it has to pay. End of.

While they get this sorted, the company should not be surprised if staff arrive late or leave early - which will probably cause even more station closures than the north end of the Vic is already experiencing.

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Taking The Piss... And Worse?

Published on: Fri, 18/11/2016 - 00:04

Spare a thought for the staff, particularly cleaners, and passengers who had a nasty surprise at Oxford Circus late last month when a sewer pipe burst, leading to what might euphemistically be referred to as brown effluence leaking on the Argyll gate line and down towards the escalators.

A long-awaited refurb of the staff toilets was underway at the time. Tubeworker wonders whether the company LU hired to do the job might've botched it, leading to the... ahem... shitty situation.

Yet another argument for bringing maintenance work back in house.

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Bombardier Balls-Up

Published on: Fri, 18/03/2016 - 14:29

A GLA report has revealed the rip-off which saw TfL £886m out of pocket after awarding contract to Bombardier which it could not fulfil.

Not only that, but the terms of the contract meant that when Bombardier jumped ship, TfL had to pay it for the money it had spent rather than the work it had done. And all this leaves the sub-surface upgrades delayed by years.

The money lost about 20 times the annual saving that Fit for the Future - Stations is due to achieve. Massive job cuts, ticket office closures, ... and all the money saved gets chucked down the drain.

What a farce. The report calls the situation "nothing short of a disaster" for London Underground and accuses Bombardier of having "duped" TfL. Because after the PPP fiasco, no-one could possibly anti irate that a private company would try to get loads of money without delivering the work, right? Wrong.

Boris Johnson declared that Bombardier had "totally stuffed up" - a convenient passing of the buck, evading responsibility for TfL, which he chairs, also stuffing up big style on his watch. The contract was signed in 2011, three years into BoJo's tenure as Mayor.

That's the nature of private contacting - political leaders see it is contracting-out blame as well as work.

So the answer to this message is not just to manage contracts better, but to put an end to private contracting and do the work ourselves - with directly-employed staff in a department which carries out projects and major works.

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Tell Management To Take A Hike!

Published on: Sat, 17/10/2015 - 10:26

The refurbished Shed 25 to 28 roads at Upminster depot are nearly ready, and awaiting sign off from union safety reps. However, local management want drivers to get familiarised (aka "hiked") with just briefing notes and a video.

Unions reps strongly oppose this, arguing that drivers should be properly familiarised on the refurbished shed roads for the S-stock trains. As emergency plunger points, which are used to discharge traction current, have been relocated, and addition plungers added, as well as other important safety issues, the Instructor Operators responsible for hiking new T/Ops will be almost as unfamiliar with the layout as the T/Ops themselves if all they've seen is some briefing notes and a video! How professional would that look to a new T/Op in training?

Worse still, management gave the briefings and even arranged a meeting to sign off the roads while one of the union safety reps was on holiday. Fortunately, almost all the drivers who received the briefing submitted a memo requesting to be properly hiked!

Perhaps if project pool drivers hadn't been sent to Earl's Court to help with coverage there, they could've been available to ensure coverage at Upminster while drivers were hiked round the refurbished roads. Isn't that what the project pool is for?!

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