Fear not, this post does not have any religious connotations, it's just a glib way for me to segue into the events of today. I will respond to the commenst on my last post as and when I can, but a couple of things cropped up today, as you may have noticed.
I'm having flashbacks to 20 July last year. For the heavans opened again today and there was flooding. Oh so much flooding. Bristol, underwater with reports of snow storms (!), some of South Wales under water, flooding by Chipping Sodbury, and by Flax Bourton in Devon. This was entirely unexpected. The weather had been rough, but we did not expect to have free flowing water down both main lines at Wooton Bassett. The water flooded the lineside equipment and caused multiple track circuit failures, most notably at patchway. When I look ed at the TV above my desk and saw the amount of red on it, to say I was disheartened would be an understatement.
I left work at 4.30 because there was not much I could do about the situation and the top train in the list, the 11.15 from Paddington to Cardiff had just hit Newport. 204 minutes delayed, all because of flooding.
I know the vast majority of you who read this were caught up in the floods last year so I won't bore you by discussing it all over again. Those of you who got caught in this do have my sympathy, for what it's worth.
I'm not sure if this will be as big a deal as last July, but I can guess that, once again, it is going to take a while to clear things up. Hopefully, most of this can be done over the weekend and we can get back to normal next week.
The second issue I would like to address is the impending strike by the RMT members. My anonymous commenter, (the last comment on 'Oh Dear, Oh Dear') suggested that this is politically motivated as a supposed final straw for the DfT who will finally revoke the FGW franchise.
I'm not sure what the RMT's motivations for this are. I don't beleive that it is over managers performing the duties of guards, that is merely an emergency measure proposed by our lovely COO to cover some trains if the strike goes ahead. Managers don't normally like to get out there unless they have too. It's also, I'm almost certain not about Sunday working, as the official line goes.
I think that this is politically motivated, but it is not intended to affect the DfT. (Let's face it, as long as the DfT gets their franchise payment, does anyone actually believe, based on thier actions so far, that they give a toss). This is intended to appeal to FGW management to show just how low morale is for the vast majority of staff. From what I hear, those who like their jobs are in a minority.
I think this is intended as a protest against the management structure at FGW which, quite frankly, is over-complicated with far too many layers and nobody really knowing what their role actually encompasses. It's a protest against stupid decisions, impotent management and far too many demands placed on far too few people.
I don't mean to romanticise this because, it's a pain in the ass. Andrew Haines wrote a letter to the RMT members asking them not to strike. He got responses. I read a few of these, for example, a conductor who was asked to work a 1 carriage train from Weymouth, left 60 people on the platform and got an hour of verbal abuse for his troubles and was ignored when he pointed out that this 1 carriage train would form the busiest commuter train from Bristol and should be reinforced.
I can see their point much of the time. It does suck having to deal with frustrated passengers when it's not your fault and their's nothing you can do about it. Maybe this kind of a wake up call is what is needed. I fear though that, in the long run, it will make bugger all difference.