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Unread 28-05-2008, 12:56   #1
Mark Gleeson
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Default Disruption in Cork

Quote:
Originally Posted by Irish Examiner
28 May 2008

FG calls for rail drivers to be fired

By Stephen Rogers and Paul O’Brien
AS a seventh day of train stoppages to and from Cork looked certain today, there were calls last night for the drivers at the centre of the dispute to be sacked.

At the time of going to press, the Labour Relations Commission had not been able to find a formula between Iarnród Éireann and its driver unions which would persuade 40 Cork drivers to return to work.

In fact sources close to the LRC exploratory talks reported that the two sides were further apart than ever after more than seven hours of talks. That means a further 15,000 rail passengers will today be looking for alternative travel arrangements yet again. Since the strike started last Thursday, the dispute has affected 90,000 passengers and cost the company €2.5m.

Iarnrod Eireann wants the drivers to return to work on terms and conditions it agreed with the unions last March. It also wants written guarantees there will be no further unofficial industrial action. The Cork drivers are not prepared to give any such guarantees.

They say that to agree to that ties their hands.

Last night the company’s calls for a “no strike” clause were given political backing by Transport Minister Noel Dempsey. While the Minister claimed it would be inappropriate for him to intervene, he made it clear where he believed the blame lay.

“This is unofficial action and is not sanctioned by either trade union in the company,” he told the Dáil. “It is the action of a number of individuals in the Cork-Kerry area. Some other people went out in sympathy. The sympathy should be with the travelling public, not those who do not appear to want to work towards a solution.”

Mr Dempsey said that “no strike” clauses would improve confidence in public transport and ensure their efficient operation.

Fine Gael’s Fergus O’Dowd was more blunt: “They should be sacked; that’s the answer.”

Mr Dempsey said that might be the solution but warned: “It may also cause a greater problem.”

Cork drivers were again insisting yesterday that they had been targeted by the company. The dispute began last Thursday because one of their number refused to carry out duties for which he was not rostered. He was taken off the payroll for his refusal. The drivers in Cork’s Kent Station claim there are train services not being run all over the country every day, yet those drivers responsible are not removed from the payroll and are not asked to sign slips of paper guaranteeing they will not engage in unofficial strike action.

The company disagrees. It claims there have been issues with the Cork drivers, — whose average salary is €52,000 — for some time and they are no longer prepared to have unreliable service from Cork stations.

Today 19 intercity services to and from Cork and Tralee will be cancelled, plus all commuter services.
http://www.examiner.ie/irishexaminer...738-qqqx=1.asp
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Unread 28-05-2008, 12:57   #2
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Page 17 Examiner 28/05/2008 is rather interesting but not online

Sorry about the scan quailty

http://www.railusers.ie/resources/ex...7-28052008.jpg
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Unread 28-05-2008, 12:59   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Irish Times
Iarnród Éireann expects further disruption today
MARTIN WALL, Industry Correspondent

IARNRÓD ÉIREANN last night said it expected that there would be significant disruption again today to rail services in the south as a result of the ongoing dispute involving train drivers in Cork.

Talks were continuing last night between between trade unions and management at Iarnród Éireann under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) in an attempt to resolve the unofficial dispute.

Iarnród Éireann said that it would waive a controversial requirement for drivers to sign individual undertakings that they would fully comply with existing agreements on flexible work practices and not undertake further unofficial industrial action.

The company said that it would accept such assurances from the drivers' unions.

Iarnród Éireann said that it had sought to verify from the drivers that they would operate existing agreements in full but that it was clear that the drivers were not prepared to meet the terms in full.

Iarnród Éireann said some 70,000 passengers had been affected over the last six days by the dispute, which has seen dozens of services cancelled and cost the company more than €2 million.

LRC facilitator Tom Pomphrett met separately with both Iarnród Éireann management and representatives of Siptu and the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) yesterday as part of exploratory talks aimed at finding a back-to-work formula.

On their way into the talks, both management and unions had expressed the hope that services would resume, but it was unclear last night whether trains would be running from Cork today.

Nearly 20 services on the Dublin to Cork and Dublin to Kerry routes were cancelled yesterday, as were all commuter services on the Cork to Cobh and Cork to Mallow lines.

Drivers had said they will not go back to work until the company withdraws controversial undertakings it is seeking them to sign.

Assistant general secretary of the NBRU Dermot O'Leary said that he hoped to get the trains back on the tracks. He said that his members had been willing to go to work on Monday but were prevented by the company.

Siptu branch organiser Jackie Pearson said it was a pity that direct talks with management had not taken place three or four days ago, as he was confident that had they done so trains would be running.

John Keenan of Iarnród Éireann said that the company wanted a satisfactory commitment from its drivers that they would work in accordance with agreements.

"We want drivers who are paid, to drive trains for our passengers. It is very simple," he said.

The Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) strongly criticised the unofficial strike action. It said it was causing major inconvenience to travellers and threatening the tourism industry on the eve of one of the most important holiday weekends of the year.

The IHF said it was unbelievable that the dispute had been allowed to continue.

IHF president Matthew Ryan said the "irresponsible action" was already having a major impact on one of the busiest bank holidays of the year due to uncertainty regarding train services.

"Cancellations are rife, not only in the hotel sector but across concerts and other business events due to people not being able to get to Dublin or down to Cork or Kerry.

Flexible working has been at the heart of the dispute. The company has said that, under existing agreements, drivers can be required to move from operating one train to another during a shift on the basis of customer need.

However, it is understood that the Cork drivers have argued that, under a local agreement, the obligation on them to move between duties "as required" only applied in emergency circumstances.
© 2008 The Irish Times
http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/ire...830492633.html
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Unread 28-05-2008, 22:52   #4
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Quote:
Management and unions agree deal to end rail dispute
Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Management and unions at Iarnród Éireann have agreed proposals to end the Cork rail dispute.

The proposals, brokered under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) in Mallow this evening, appear to pave the way for a resumption of train services in the south east by tomorrow afternoon.

In a statement tonight, Iarnród Éireann said a document had been agreed by management and unions to facilitate a return to work by train drivers, following disruption to services since last Thursday.

Siptu, who along with the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) represent the drivers at the centre of the row, welcomed the deal but said it would not disclose details of the agreed document until it was put to union members at a meeting in Cork tomorrow morning.

Some 70,000 passengers have been affected over the last six days by the dispute, which has seen dozens of services cancelled and cost the company more than €2 million.

Flexible working has been at the heart of the dispute. The company has said that, under existing agreements, drivers can be required to move from operating one train to another during a shift on the basis of customer need.

However, it is understood that the Cork drivers have argued that, under a local agreement, the obligation on them to move between duties "as required" only applied in emergency circumstances.

Rail services in Cork and Kerry were the worst affected today, and passengers had been advised to consult the Irish Rail website for a list of expected cancellations and operating services.

LRC facilitator Tom Pomphrett met separately with both Iarnród Éireann management and representatives of Siptu and NBRU yesterday afternoon as part of exploratory talks aimed at finding a back-to-work formula.

Talks between management and trade unions had resumed this afternoon after nearly 20 services on the Dublin to Cork and Dublin to Kerry routes were cancelled yesterday, as were all commuter services on the Cork to Cobh and Cork to Mallow lines.

© 2008 ireland.com
http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/bre.../breaking1.htm
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Unread 29-05-2008, 22:25   #5
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Having followed this issue very closely, I find the comments of the Minister to be naieve and even shocking. Feargus O'Dowds comments are even more shocking and are a mere attempt to make him appealing to the electorate. But the Minister has displayed the greatest ignorance and almost contemptuous stance towards the issue. IE is rotting away in terms of its Human Resources dept. For example, look at May 2006 and the way Cork drivers were hoodwinked into a dispute. The person in charge is not fit to run it and has a history of provoking staff in order to get his way. Unofficial action in that company is happening because the unions are weak, staff have genuine grievances and management are hopelessly inadequate when it comes to dealing with them and reinventing the company.

Unions only act when unofficial action is called. Management then react in a hardline fashion (which usually includes provocation) and then we end up with a mediator. Inevitably the company end up withdrawing their provocative hardline approach and fresh talks begin to progress matters, until IE start provoking staff again. Believe me this strike ended, when IE got wind of a planned nationwide walkout last Tuesday. However they brought it that far by demanding that drivers sign a letter. After LRC intervention that letter has been binned. This is all a sign of very poor management in IE. The Minister hasn't a clue and I'd rather communicate with a turnip that waste my time writing to him. His response was dissapointing. If he really cares about the travelling public then an immediate inquiry needs to carried out into IE management and staff. We know that their customer service is poor and the public blame staff. But Ive said this many many times. Good customer service starts at the top. Good human resources starts at the top. Leadership starts at the top. The top is the management and the role of management is to lead, inspire, encourage, praise, organise and "manage". All roads lead back to its basic function. Looking at another example, some members of staff are reluctant to wear name badges. What do management do? Dig their heels in, let the matter fester until eventually it becomes a big issue. But at no point were they prepared to wear name badges in public areas of the rail network. Slide on down to Heuston any day and I can pick out "managers" that are invisible to their customers. But behind the scenes treat staff like dirt. I don't dispute that CIE companies have a large amount of poor staff with equally poor attitudes. But this attitude emanates from the sucessive dinosaurs like John Lynch that have been paid huge sums and offer nothing but a nod and a wink to the Minister that put them in there. Historically there have been some funny practises on the railway and when CIE was formed, Government appointed goons were never going to be capable of creating change and dynamism.If we are to be honest with ourselves and examine the history of this company, management have a lot more to answer for than any strike or dispute.
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Unread 30-05-2008, 07:56   #6
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Re Derek Wheeler's posting 29.05.08 at 2325.
Overall, well put Derek.
However I know for a fact that IE's staff in Cork have for as long as I can remember (that's 40 years +) worked the way they wanted which was too often not quite within the general rules accepted by IE's staff elsewhere.
IE staff in Cork have always been regarded as 'rebels' and whenever management tried to get them conform to the regulations there was always the possibility of 'unofficial' strike.
Frankly Derek I have little or no sympathy with the Cork drivers. In this day and age for one driver to cause the kind of disruption we've had during 8 days is unacceptable. Management has its faults but nowhere as serious as the attitude of the Cork train drivers.
Anarchy is the order of the day where Cork train drivers are concerned.
Attitudes have to change and please remember it is impossible to run any company without flexibility by all concerned.
No set of rules cover everything that may arise.
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Unread 30-05-2008, 09:39   #7
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Here's the thing.....

is it a part of the new agreement that the Cork pilot will not be asked to bring out trainee drivers?

All it took was 10,000 people per day to be shafted for that issue to be clarified.

But then again, we are only norms, as one poster on another website once put it.... what have we got to do with it?
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Unread 30-05-2008, 10:41   #8
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Well all it says to me is that as an organisation (workers and management) Iarnrod Eireann doesn't give a toss about the travelling public it's paying customers and the tax payers who bankroll its modernisation. Any organisation that could cause that amount of disruption over a petty squabble really ought to be considering why it shouldn't be disbanded.

I also think this walking off the job over fairly minor issues is actually undermining the ability of the real trade unions to use strike action as a last resort in a genuinely abusive situation. There are many other ways of resolving such disputes without resorting to removing people from the payroll and without shutting down half the country!

It seems to me both the drivers and managers are fond of fighting and confrontation.

Frankly, I think that if a manager does something that confrontational he/she ought to be fired and if a worker goes out of their way to cause a massively disruptive strike and won't use normal industrial relations machinery they ought to be fired too!

This whole dispute has cost a fortune to the tax payer, to businesses and caused a huge amount of distruption.

I think it's time for a root and branch reform of CIE from the top down and the bottom up.

It's clearly a dysfunctional organisation ! Something needs to be done to cure this illness!
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Unread 30-05-2008, 10:58   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrX View Post
Well all it says to me is that as an organisation (workers and management) Iarnrod Eireann doesn't give a toss about the travelling public it's paying customers and the tax payers who bankroll its modernisation. Any organisation that could cause that amount of disruption over a petty squabble really ought to be considering why it shouldn't be disbanded.

I also think this walking off the job over fairly minor issues is actually undermining the ability of the real trade unions to use strike action as a last resort in a genuinely abusive situation. There are many other ways of resolving such disputes without resorting to removing people from the payroll and without shutting down half the country!

It seems to me both the drivers and managers are fond of fighting and confrontation.

Frankly, I think that if a manager does something that confrontational he/she ought to be fired and if a worker goes out of their way to cause a massively disruptive strike and won't use normal industrial relations machinery they ought to be fired too!

This whole dispute has cost a fortune to the tax payer, to businesses and caused a huge amount of distruption.

I think it's time for a root and branch reform of CIE from the top down and the bottom up.

It's clearly a dysfunctional organisation ! Something needs to be done to cure this illness!
Hear hear!!!

Problem is what? Unlike some of the more fancifull internet warriors we know we cant call in army engineers, sack drivers en masse, and we know you cant remove managment.

Plain fact of the matter is that the railways would run perfectly happily if there were no passengers. Just imagine empty trains running from a-b all the time. Even then they'd be late.

Funnilly enough, it is my opinion that bringing in well intentioned and able managment with vision from the UK which has caused all of this. Long-terms posters will know of my admiration for Bob Montgomery and what he did with Dublin bus all of 20 years ago. There were similar people, ex-BR, in IE and they were the ones who envisaged the new network we're getting. The problem is that they are not the men who have to deal with the local disputes. No matter what you think about Cork drivers, there were in place localised agreements. Someone decided to break it.

Sadly, in the end, some managers will feel hard done by in this. They will be out for revenge. Perhaps the new influx of drivers will change hard line attitudes. Perhaps, with adequate staffing, there will be no need for massive flexibility and then no need for issues like this to arise as everyone will have clearly defined jobs and duties. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps, as the song goes.

As I have said before, and as anyone who watches these things can realise, this all is due to IE imposing a very good timetable from our point of view but with nowhere near the resources to do it. That is why there is a need for massive flexibilities, you see.

Dont forget that the 22K's havent even started rolling out of Cork yet.....
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Unread 30-05-2008, 11:24   #10
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Managements first obligation is to provide a safe reliable rail service

Right or wrong the actions on Thursday last without question where confrontational and broke with existing practices, ignored the usual proceedures and went outside the trade union agreements for dealing with problems. Did that justify the walk out, we don't know we where not there to witness it.

The net outcome was

90,000 people left without transport
Another 150,000 daily passengers in fear of the service vanishing countrywide the following morning
40 guys with morgages and families down a weeks pay despite being available to drive the trains those 90,000 wanted.

Has the passenger got anything in return of 7 days of trouble?

Service cancellations in Cork and country wide continue due to lack of drivers, a fact Irish Rail deny. As of today the reason is operational difficulties not driver issues.

Then there is the dirty secret of the Cobh line

Management are in no hurry to admit the Cobh line has turned into a disaster, only 1 of the 5 reasons for problems is the shortage of drivers, we got lack of gatekeepers, lack of signalmen, lack of serviceable trains and the engineering works for Midleton. Irish Rail buried this from the public, and have now gone as far as providing no bus subsitutions. We got Barry Kenny to admit there was a problem and that it was'nt on the website, on national radio but still nothing.

22k's won't be a problem in Cork once the staff are trained, since none of the staff in Cork are trained to drive a 29k (same transmission, cab layout, train management computer) its a big step up and will take time. Of course the fact the 22k doesn't fit in to the platform in Cork is more of an issue.

Last edited by Mark Gleeson : 30-05-2008 at 11:57.
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Unread 30-05-2008, 12:04   #11
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IE should go out to tender and appoint a transport provider to run the Cobh line and Midleton services with a no strike clause in the contract.
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Unread 30-05-2008, 12:59   #12
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Well it won't be long before a private company can come in, problem is Irish Rail still set the driver rules and they also own the track so any third party is going to have trouble

But if you did a joint venture with NIR..............
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Unread 30-05-2008, 13:14   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark View Post
IE should go out to tender and appoint a transport provider to run the Cobh line and Midleton services with a no strike clause in the contract.
I'd second this but insert DoT or RPA or in place of IR. My only fear is that the existing IR staff would cause problems for the new company and it's staff and somehow scupper the arrangement.

Last edited by markpb : 30-05-2008 at 13:36.
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Unread 30-05-2008, 13:25   #14
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Exactly

The no strike clause is a matter for the operator, not the contract.

Contract is simple, provide the following basic service e.g.

2 train per hour peak, 1 per hour off peak to a clock face pattern
N capacity provided
If number standing exceeds 50% of seats, extra trains, longer trains
Punctuality ....
Refunds for target failures
Staffing levels and hours
etc

If the service is not provided for any reason bar the acceptable extremes of flooding, terrorism etc penalties apply. Obviously the company will have a agreement with IE infrastructure who will get stung for delays due to track, and with the rolling stock maintainer and so on

While this does nothing to ensure strikes don't happen it ensures the consumer is protected, that any party guilty of not providing there part will be hit hard which is motivation enough to ensure things run smoothly
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Unread 30-05-2008, 14:08   #15
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Yes, the DoT should tender the work seeing as they are funding the Midleton work.

When I wrote no strike clause in the contract I meant the current situation whereby the Veolia employees have an no strike clause in their contracts with Veolia thus enabling Veolia carry out the services that they are paid to do by the RPA. I didnt actually mean a no strike clause between the provider and IE as that will be covered by the contract stipulations but you get my gist.

It is certainly the most efficient way forward in this particular industry and I do think Cobh, Mallow and then Midleton would be good prototypes for IE to start looking at that.

How the current Cork based drivers would react to that tho? Would they withdraw services and be entitled to do so under the LRC terms in opposition?

Quote:
But if you did a joint venture with NIR..............[/
What would that achieve mark?

Last edited by Mark : 30-05-2008 at 14:12.
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Unread 30-05-2008, 14:41   #16
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NIR bypasses IE totally, since there is a common rule book a driver trained by NIR is the same as one trained by IE.
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Unread 30-05-2008, 17:52   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Gleeson View Post
Well it won't be long before a private company can come in, problem is Irish Rail still set the driver rules and they also own the track so any third party is going to have trouble

But if you did a joint venture with NIR..............
Separating IE into Train Operating Company (Irish Rail) and Track/Station Operating Company (CIE?) could/should be doable... except then the guy who sweeps the platform mightn't have a preferential route into driving...
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Unread 11-06-2008, 07:57   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Examiner
Passengers face threat of further rail chaos

By Stephen Rogers
TRAIN services in Cork could be severely disrupted yet again in the coming days after two drivers were removed from the payroll.

Less than a fortnight after a week-long dispute disrupted the travel plans of 100,000 passengers, drivers at Cork's Kent Station are once more on the brink of industrial action.

According to a driver source, when one of the drivers turned up on Monday to operate a training shift as rostered, he was asked to drive the train to Mallow.

"He did the trip and when he came back he was asked to drive the training shift. He asked who was responsible for the train if there was an incident when the trainee was driving. They said ‘you are'. He said ‘grand, I am not driving the train so'. He said any incident while the trainee was driving would go on his file, so unless they gave him a note excluding him from responsibility he would not drive the train. At the end of the day they took him off the payroll. He asked why and he said they could not answer him."

The source said another driver came in and was also asked to drive the training run. "When he was told that he would be responsible for the train while the trainee was driving he also refused and was removed from the payroll," he said.

The week-long dispute two weeks ago was sparked when a driver was removed from the payroll for refusing to operate a training run for which he was not rostered.

That widened into an impasse over the terms of conditions of Cork drivers compared with the rest of the country. That dispute was only resolved with lengthy negotiations at the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) under the chairmanship of Tom Pomphrett.

Now Mr Pomphrett is being approached by the drivers to ask for his point of view on the situation.

"We were carrying out our duties as requested. We were being flexible and co-operating, the whole lot," said the driver. "We believe the company is trying to start a strike and we are doing everything in our power to stop it. That is why we are all still working. We now believe they are going to take a driver off the payroll everyday unless they agree to take responsibility for the train while the trainee is driving.

"We are just playing it by ear and we are watching very closely. We know they are trying to force us outside the gate. They want more than what they got out of the Labour Relations Commission."

Iarnród Éireann said the two drivers were in breach of the LRC agreements by refusing to take out the training train. It said the training run involves an instructor, the trainee and the driver, and that when the trainee driver has control of the vehicle, there is dual control for the driver.

The company rejected accusations it was trying to cause a dispute.
http://www.examiner.ie/irishexaminer...745-qqqx=1.asp
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Unread 11-06-2008, 16:33   #19
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The driver training program in Irish Rail contains the following text

Quote:
During this stage, of 8 weeks duration, the probationer is progressively permitted to operate passenger trains under the instruction of a qualified driver.
So the driver in charge must be qualified to instruct, aka the mentor driver. There are no mentor drivers in Cork. Mentor drivers get paid more and receive extra training. The traditional approach is that the most senior person present is responsible, that being the District Traction Executive

Very few trains in the fleet have dual controls, no railcar has them and the second seat on older locomotives has no speedometer or cab signalling display on the off side console.

Once again we find a situation where management want to play the power trip game without any consideration of the impact on the service to the public.

Last edited by Mark Gleeson : 11-06-2008 at 16:36.
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Unread 11-06-2008, 16:34   #20
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Here we go again!!!
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