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GTR Timetable Change 2018




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#376 Claude_Dreyfus

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Posted 18 July 2018 - 16:49

Thanks John! I got to London Bridge at 17:30 to find the 17:03 still in the platform! It was cancelled a couple of minutes later. On a Thameslink service, which is relatively empty at the back...but absolutely rammed in the front half.



#377 cromptonnut

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Posted 18 July 2018 - 16:53

There is a points failure outside London Bridge this evening. The 1803 departure to Portsmouth is starting from East Croydon and there is expected to be severe disruption to the terminating platform services for the next couple of hours.

 

Not much fun out of Waterloo either due to an incident at Wimbledon, and very limited services to/from Waterloo are stopping at Clapham Junction in either direction.  


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#378 John M Upton

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Posted 18 July 2018 - 17:25

South Western had a body in Platform 9 at Clapham Junction earlier this afternoon.



#379 roundhouse

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Posted 18 July 2018 - 17:56

My other half caught a Thameslink train that untill this week hardly ran if ever since Mays timetable change. She got on at Farringdon so got seat but it soon filled up by London Bridge no doubt due to the signal issues and even more crowded at East Croydon.

 

A fair few cancelled Thameslink services heading South this morning but luckily those heading to London were Ok at the time I drop her off.

 

Me not missing the commute one bit.


Edited by roundhouse, 19 July 2018 - 06:06 .


#380 caradoc

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Posted 18 July 2018 - 20:05

A quote from the Railway Magazine: 'Publicity has been given recently to criticisms of peak-hour overcrowding and unpunctuality on suburban services in south-east London'. It could be from a recent edition but in fact is from issue 684.......April 1958 !


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#381 Mike Storey

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Posted 18 July 2018 - 21:36

It also suggested to me that maybe there simply aren't the staff there with either the experience and competence and/or the time to do the job any other way.  Usually if a trainplan is unlikely to work it isn't over difficult to become aware of that from looking at just a part of it but if it is a complex plan,  like the new Thameslink TT,  you have to know which parts to look at.  As already mentioned I have been very surprised at what appears to have been the way the service was built up using a straight line approach from timetable to diagrams, this sort of method was increasingly out of use on BR from the 1980s onwards because it was so wasteful.

 

And it seems to have not worked the right way here as, for example, people being unaware of how many sets would be needed and where stabling for them was required - that should be a starting point as much as anything else.  Oddly I found a very similar problem in NSW when I was analysing risks and shortcomings in the Sydney suburban service TT development process.   Net result was that the TT could not deliver the required reliability but also it was not delivering the best set maintenance reliability either because of the way the set diagrams were issued to stabling locations (easily put right) but even more amazing was that an agreed set availability figure was not used at the start of timetable planning.

 

Is that right or indeed fair, on this occasion Mike? We both share similar concerns about the direction in which NR TT planning headed (albeit my focus had been far more STP than yours).

 

But the committee (and the London Connections revelations) also acknowledged the very late specification changes from the DfT, tho' whether this was due to GTR issues, or due to political commitments to serve extra or different markets at a late hour, is not yet revealed. Quite how any TT planning team could have delivered a robust plan to deadline, given the changes to destinations, berthing points and crew diagramming resulting, is beyond my comprehension. I am certainly not of the belief that the cardigan, slipper and pipe brigade that we both remember, could have done any better, despite their combined centuries of experience.

 

It also appears that a perfectly planned TT would not have improved matters much anyway, given the absurd level of both driver vacancies and drivers still in training, or not yet transferred from the SE. DfT have stayed pretty quiet on that one.

 

The key here is most definitely the battle of opinions between whether certain people did or did not say "no" at the right time, or whether the DfT did not hear or chose not to listen, and "why?".  I cannot possibly imagine a person like Chris Green (or even Chris Gibb) holding back from a situation he could foresee as catastrophic. It is not like he needs to keep in their good books. Grayling maintains that no such warnings were issued, as does Wilkinson presumably, and of course we believe them, as they never distort anything. Much more complex than that, of course, but that is the nub.

 

Northern is a different matter, and I am beginning to believe that NR really messed up there, given they must have known that key elements of the NW electrification scheme were red risked, at a critical decision moment. Northern are not without blame though, given their laggardly approach to route and traction training (and the emerging issue of late, planned train delivery, both new and transferred).

 

As stated before, I am no more confident of a fair inquiry, than I was even before Grayling announced the chair of that inquiry. At least in the new Mr Network Rail, there will be an individual who both knows his stuff intimately, from all sides of the fence, and who takes no prisoners. I think DfT will rue the day they appointed him, but the rest of the industry will not.


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#382 John M Upton

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Posted 20 July 2018 - 09:42

It has just been announced that the planned ten day closure of the Brighton Main Line over the October Half Term has now been binned.
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#383 The Stationmaster

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Posted 20 July 2018 - 17:11

Is that right or indeed fair, on this occasion Mike? We both share similar concerns about the direction in which NR TT planning headed (albeit my focus had been far more STP than yours).

 

But the committee (and the London Connections revelations) also acknowledged the very late specification changes from the DfT, tho' whether this was due to GTR issues, or due to political commitments to serve extra or different markets at a late hour, is not yet revealed. Quite how any TT planning team could have delivered a robust plan to deadline, given the changes to destinations, berthing points and crew diagramming resulting, is beyond my comprehension. I am certainly not of the belief that the cardigan, slipper and pipe brigade that we both remember, could have done any better, despite their combined centuries of experience.

 

It also appears that a perfectly planned TT would not have improved matters much anyway, given the absurd level of both driver vacancies and drivers still in training, or not yet transferred from the SE. DfT have stayed pretty quiet on that one.

 

The key here is most definitely the battle of opinions between whether certain people did or did not say "no" at the right time, or whether the DfT did not hear or chose not to listen, and "why?".  I cannot possibly imagine a person like Chris Green (or even Chris Gibb) holding back from a situation he could foresee as catastrophic. It is not like he needs to keep in their good books. Grayling maintains that no such warnings were issued, as does Wilkinson presumably, and of course we believe them, as they never distort anything. Much more complex than that, of course, but that is the nub.

 

Northern is a different matter, and I am beginning to believe that NR really messed up there, given they must have known that key elements of the NW electrification scheme were red risked, at a critical decision moment. Northern are not without blame though, given their laggardly approach to route and traction training (and the emerging issue of late, planned train delivery, both new and transferred).

 

As stated before, I am no more confident of a fair inquiry, than I was even before Grayling announced the chair of that inquiry. At least in the new Mr Network Rail, there will be an individual who both knows his stuff intimately, from all sides of the fence, and who takes no prisoners. I think DfT will rue the day they appointed him, but the rest of the industry will not.

 

I think it's fair in respect of process Mike but a very different situation when we come to how the process was used - which seems to have been very much along the lines you have spelt out.  In other words interference from above meant that a proper process would have been negated even if it had been used.

 

But having said that I did find it odd - although it was no doubt said for a good reason - that Chris Green linked the diagramming process entirely to the delivery, very late, of the timetable with no suggestion that earlier work had been done or had been negated by what NR had done to the timetable.   He's more than experienced enough to know how trainplans and timetables are put together (especially so having seen one which he presented to me for validation before it became what he would be submitting to my then masters as a consultancy report and recommendation ;) ) so quite why he took this line I'm not sure unless it was to more positively finger the NR problem.

 

I think we also need to appreciate that his and Chris Gibb's audience in the Select Committee might well have needed to be lead by the hand through some of the complexities and we simply don't know the poilitics (with a small 'p') behind it all.  Fair inquiry - no chance.  future with new man at NR - time will tell.


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#384 Mike Storey

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Posted 21 July 2018 - 09:49

I have re-read a large part of the TSC transcripts, and compared some of it to what we already knew.

 

Three things stand out, to my mind:

 

1. The readiness reports in both cases showed bright red flags (interpreted to mean between 10 to 100 cancellations per day expected - an under-estimate it seems) as far back as February. But the assurances given by all parties seems to have been that they could mitigate most of the issues highlighted in time, another gross under-estimate. A comment was made by some that such red flags were common on many projects, and that if due notice was taken of all of them, nothing would ever get done. But it was, let's say, an alternative fact, for Grayling to say that his team had been given no reason to believe there would be such problems.

 

2. The NR TT production process (of three times the normal number of changes) had got to its first significant stage, bang on time, in (I think) November 2017. Jo Kaye stated this and no-one contradicted her in any subsequent statement. It all fell apart when, for GTR, the supervisory board recommendation to go to four phases was finally accepted by the DfT after the first iteration had been produced, and when for NR, in February, NR confirmed that the key infrastructure works would be well late (in fact, later), which meant a new TT had to be written, not just re-written, for both areas, and driver training would have to go back to Year Zero.

 

3. Nervousness in both cases had produced suggestions/requests (? it is not clear how strongly these were made) by the TOCs that the whole new TT should be postponed, as far back as November 2017. Such concerns also included factors in my last post. But the argument that other TOCs would not be able to fulfill their franchise obligations, over-rode, and continued to over-ride, that possibility.

 

In other words, given so many factors to consider, the favoured defence by most involved was "damned if we did, damned if we didn't". The formal inquiry should be interesting.


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#385 jjb1970

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Posted 21 July 2018 - 13:09

At the risk of stating the obvious, we all know that running a railway is complicated and requires specialised knowledge and skills. That is no different from any other complex process or profession and those responsible for such processes are expected to be competent to discharge their duties effectively. In the case of GTR I am not sure whether it is a case of collective incompetence or a completely dysfunctional system but something has gone very badly wrong and it is something which seems to me to go far beyond what could be explained by the usual sort of explanations that mistakes were made etc etc. I suspect is more a case of a dysfunctional system than incompetence as I suspect many of those involved have displayed quite sufficient competence previously and in altered circumstances would be capable of doing their jobs perfectly well. One of the key indicators of a good organisation in my experience is that people are empowered and people are prepared and willing to tell those higher up the food chain that they're idiots (well, maybe not that bluntly, but certainly to make clear their professional judgement) whilst those at the top recognise and act on such advice/feedback (even if they go ahead anyway they should be damned sure they're right). I just look at this sorry saga and it is just an unremitted tale of woe which really does nothing for my confidence that senior leaders at DafT, NR or GTR know what they're doing.
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#386 hayfield

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Posted 21 July 2018 - 13:19

Mike

 

The Chairman of the Implementation board did say right from the beginning of the meeting, he now realises the date should have been postponed.

 

And I guess those doing the timetable and driver training I guess were under tremendous pressure and telling their superiors what they wanted to hear, rather than admit to not being able to come up with a solution with the fear of being seen as a failure.

 

Having said this, there were professionals in place to oversee the change, one group was as you say red flagging the issue, the other accepting what they were being told by Govia, and I guess were as much to blame as they were there to prevent such issues, but this board was made up by in the main interested parties, which in itself may also be a failing of the system


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#387 Mike Storey

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Posted 21 July 2018 - 20:24

Mike

 

The Chairman of the Implementation board did say right from the beginning of the meeting, he now realises the date should have been postponed.

 

And I guess those doing the timetable and driver training I guess were under tremendous pressure and telling their superiors what they wanted to hear, rather than admit to not being able to come up with a solution with the fear of being seen as a failure.

 

Having said this, there were professionals in place to oversee the change, one group was as you say red flagging the issue, the other accepting what they were being told by Govia, and I guess were as much to blame as they were there to prevent such issues, but this board was made up by in the main interested parties, which in itself may also be a failing of the system

 

John

 

Well, he would say that now, wouldn't he?

 

I am not sure about your conclusion. The BR review system (such as it was, which was a minnow compared to what is in place now) only involved "interested parties", and did not involve many more that could have been. It made a few distinctly bad decisions in its time, especially after Clapham, when there was just as much panic as there was after Hatfield later - it was simply not as visible to the public i.e. the meeja, as these days. What is evident is that, had such exposure been available then, as it was when German Railways, a largely vertically managed railway system still, severely overdid it post the ICE crash (re- the nosedive in German public opinion of Deutsche Bahn for several years afterwards, and which has not fully recovered), then your conclusions might not seem so pervasive.

 

I don't defend the decisions that were made, or how they were made, over the 2018 TT change. I am just curious as to how any different decisions would have been received, given we would then have not known what we know now. In favour of my argument (not accepted I know because I actually worked in the industry for nearly 40 years and had to go through these decisions, year after year, but then that might be construed as the opinion of an expert, and therefore entirely unreliable), is that Railtrack, that entirely dysfunctional organisation, made the radical decision to postpone the implementation of timetables associated with the West Coast Main Line Upgrade, and then a programme of phasing, almost entirely alone. It accepted the contractual penalties demanded by the Bearded One, and the acrimony of the Regulator, but it was right to do so. The fact that it had completely effed up, was something it decided to live with, as did its shareholders, for a while anyway. Mr Byers ensured that such decisiveness would not be tolerated under his watch. 

 

So, with part of a tongue in some of the cheek, it is equally possible to argue that NR should have been the arbiter of such a decision, and not a committee or three, and a bunch of civil servants. But the political hammer swinging low above NR's head, given their changed and subservient status (as is indeed the status of GTR under present contractual arrangements), means that such decisions must pass upwards. But when the real arbiters of sensible decisions utterly deny their involvement, it might just suggest where the ire should really be directed.


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#388 Mike Storey

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Posted 21 July 2018 - 20:36

At the risk of stating the obvious, we all know that running a railway is complicated and requires specialised knowledge and skills. That is no different from any other complex process or profession and those responsible for such processes are expected to be competent to discharge their duties effectively. In the case of GTR I am not sure whether it is a case of collective incompetence or a completely dysfunctional system but something has gone very badly wrong and it is something which seems to me to go far beyond what could be explained by the usual sort of explanations that mistakes were made etc etc. I suspect is more a case of a dysfunctional system than incompetence as I suspect many of those involved have displayed quite sufficient competence previously and in altered circumstances would be capable of doing their jobs perfectly well. One of the key indicators of a good organisation in my experience is that people are empowered and people are prepared and willing to tell those higher up the food chain that they're idiots (well, maybe not that bluntly, but certainly to make clear their professional judgement) whilst those at the top recognise and act on such advice/feedback (even if they go ahead anyway they should be damned sure they're right). I just look at this sorry saga and it is just an unremitted tale of woe which really does nothing for my confidence that senior leaders at DafT, NR or GTR know what they're doing.

 

I would counter by saying, I think they knew entirely what they were doing. But it backfired.

 

As you note, these were a collection of very experienced railway professionals, all except the civil servants appointed to oversee the process. For a civil servant group who had gladly grabbed all responsibility (but apparently zero accountability) to blame the advice given given, and for the incumbent politician to manipulate that so perfidiously, tells us much. 

 

The called-for inquiry will probably tell us little (unless the Chair has decided he will retire shortly after, and not seek further adornment of gongs). What will be far more interesting is as to how a government so committed to the principle of public bad / private good, whilst not-so-secretly undermining that principle in a shrewd skewing of the the financial risks, manages to ensure that almost all the blame is placed on NR. I am sure many comments, of similar vein to those on here, will help immensely.

 

Professionals were not allowed to make the decisions. That much is obvious, but that will be ignored throughout. Alliancing will be the answer from one party, nationalisation from the other, but not as we know it, Jim. Neither is the right answer, but that will not be important, will it?


Edited by Mike Storey, 21 July 2018 - 20:37 .

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#389 hayfield

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Posted 22 July 2018 - 08:26

John

 

Well, he would say that now, wouldn't he?

 

I am not sure about your conclusion. The BR review system (such as it was, which was a minnow compared to what is in place now) only involved "interested parties", and did not involve many more that could have been. It made a few distinctly bad decisions in its time, especially after Clapham, when there was just as much panic as there was after Hatfield later - it was simply not as visible to the public i.e. the meeja, as these days. What is evident is that, had such exposure been available then, as it was when German Railways, a largely vertically managed railway system still, severely overdid it post the ICE crash (re- the nosedive in German public opinion of Deutsche Bahn for several years afterwards, and which has not fully recovered), then your conclusions might not seem so pervasive.

 

I don't defend the decisions that were made, or how they were made, over the 2018 TT change. I am just curious as to how any different decisions would have been received, given we would then have not known what we know now. In favour of my argument (not accepted I know because I actually worked in the industry for nearly 40 years and had to go through these decisions, year after year, but then that might be construed as the opinion of an expert, and therefore entirely unreliable), is that Railtrack, that entirely dysfunctional organisation, made the radical decision to postpone the implementation of timetables associated with the West Coast Main Line Upgrade, and then a programme of phasing, almost entirely alone. It accepted the contractual penalties demanded by the Bearded One, and the acrimony of the Regulator, but it was right to do so. The fact that it had completely effed up, was something it decided to live with, as did its shareholders, for a while anyway. Mr Byers ensured that such decisiveness would not be tolerated under his watch. 

 

So, with part of a tongue in some of the cheek, it is equally possible to argue that NR should have been the arbiter of such a decision, and not a committee or three, and a bunch of civil servants. But the political hammer swinging low above NR's head, given their changed and subservient status (as is indeed the status of GTR under present contractual arrangements), means that such decisions must pass upwards. But when the real arbiters of sensible decisions utterly deny their involvement, it might just suggest where the ire should really be directed.

 

 

Mike

 

I guess things like this are not a rare occurrence, but reasonably normal. I assume normally things do get sorted on a wing and a prayer and nothing is known about this by the general public. This time they just ran out of luck, or got too complacent. I was surprised though of the make up of the team.


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