Metropolitan Line – FOI Request

Dear Sir/Madam

I would like to find out more about why there was such a disastrous launch of the new signalling equipment between Finchley Road and Euston Square stations, on the Metropolitan line on w/c 2nd September.

  1. Who took the decision to launch the new signalling on Monday 2nd September?
  2. When was this decision made?
  3. When did management realise that not enough drivers had been trained to use the new signalling equipment?
  4. Would there have been a financial cost to TFL had the launch been delayed, to allow more time to train drivers to use the new signalling equipment? If so, can you quantify it – I appreciate that exact figures may not be available. A ballpark figure would be sufficient.
  5. Are any bonuses paid to any members of TFL management based on the on-time delivery of the signalling modernisation of the Metropolitan line? If so, are you able to release details of potential bonus amounts and to whom?

Kind regards
James Winfield – a long-suffering Metropolitan line customer.

******

Dear Mr Winfield

TfL Ref: FOI-1790-1920

Thank you for your email received by Transport for London (TfL) on 14 September 2019, asking about the Metropolitan line signalling modernisation.

Your request has been considered in accordance with the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act and our information access policy. I can confirm we do hold the information you require. You asked:

  1. Who took the decision to launch the new signalling on Monday 2nd September?

The decision was made by the London Underground directors based on recommendations from the project team. The programme has been working towards this commissioning for a number months but in particular there were two weekend closures over the summer where the signalling was tested and drivers were familiarised on the 20th / 21st of July and 10th / 11th August. In summary the recommendation to proceed with the launch was based on the culmination of the completion of the testing and commissioning programmes underpinned by the results from the operational proving weekends.

  1. When was this decision made?

The final decision to proceed with the launch was made on 28 August 2019.

  1. When did management realise that not enough drivers had been trained to use the new signalling equipment?

All train operators were fully trained and certified to operate the new signalling system prior to its introduction. However, in addition and as part of our commitment to safety, all train operators had to be accompanied through the new section by an Instructor Operator the first few times they went through the new commissioned signalling area. We refer to this as ‘familiarisation’. The need to familiarise train operators is why we had to operate a reduced service.

It should also be noted that we expected that there would be some delays to the Metropolitan line services once the new signalling system was live, so ahead of the launch, we rolled out a programme of communications to inform our customers and stakeholders of the anticipated disruption.

An unexpected challenge we faced on the Monday following introduction was that a number of train operators weren’t able to complete familiarisation due to a defective train at Finchley Road preventing trains getting through the area. This, as well as other minor operational incidents unrelated to the signalling, had a knock on impact on the availability of train operators and delayed the broader familiarisation plan. This all meant that the rate at which drivers could be fully familiarised during the first week was slower than anticipated

  1. Would there have been a financial cost to TFL had the launch been delayed, to allow more time to train drivers to use the new signalling equipment? If so, can you quantify it – I appreciate that exact figures may not be available. A ballpark figure would be sufficient.

Had the launch been delayed to accommodate ‘driver familiarisation’ then we would have had to accommodate additional line closure/closures in the overall Four Line Modernisation Programme. This would carry a cost of around £300,000/closure to the programme but is entirely dependent on the volume of closures required and the associated impact on the Four Line Modernisation programme in its entirety.

  1. Are any bonuses paid to any members of TFL management based on the on-time delivery of the signalling modernisation of the Metropolitan line? If so, are you able to release details of potential bonus amounts and to whom?

No bonuses are paid to any TfL management as a direct consequence of the delivery of the signalling modernisation of the Metropolitan line.

If this is not the information you are looking for, or if you are unable to access it for some reason, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Please see the attached information sheet for details of your right to appeal as well as information on copyright and what to do if you would like to re-use any of the information we have disclosed.

Yours sincerely

FOI Case Officer

FOI Case Management Team

General Counsel

Transport for London

Moments of 2019

I know I should have written this back in December when people do those whole “look back” kind of things but maybe it would have got lost with everyone else posting pictures of themselves 10 years between.

I did write some notes, vaguely, and it was astonishing as to just how much fun and enjoyment I had in 2019.

There is so much that I am missing out here – holidays to Madrid and Corfu/Albania, two days at the cricket in The Ashes, the wonderful RA Summer Exhibition which I love so much, my leaving do at Lovespace, adventures to places like Canterbury and, erm, Croydon – not to mention dozens of roast dinner missions. And probably some great things that I’ve just totally forgotten about.

10. Canary Wharf Lights

There are many things I did in 2019 that would have a better argument for being in my top 10, but this deserves a place due to the context – it was at the end of January, it was cold, I was well into my detox and there wasn’t much happening.

Summer is so much more fun than winter, so this stands out compared to what else I was doing (or not doing) around that time. Just walking around and visiting various light exhibitions. Although I was disappointed not to get “Brexit” on the random newspaper headline words made into drops of water…which is so fucking clever.

9. Brexit March

Have I ever been on a political march before? Possibly not, but nothing has angered me as much as Brexit has.

I didn’t expect to change anything, I didn’t want the “will of the people” to be over-turned or ignored – but I very much wanted to show my anger about just what a bad decision I believe this to be.

It became easy to feel shame about Britain and the backwards, intolerant, illiberal direction that I feel it is taking – but this march was probably a step back towards having pride in my country, with the full reflection of the eccentricity and welcoming wonder of British people on display – even welcoming those dressed as Donald Trump.

8. BOA Reunion

What is a BOA, I hear some of you saying. Well, back in 2006, “Back Once Again” was the name of a group on the now-defunct clubbing social media website, Don’t Stay In.

It was the start of the most extraordinary fun (and occasionally painful) period of my life, with so many wonderful new friends and just a ridiculous amount of unprintable stories.

Many of us have kept in touch, despite having spread out across the world from our initial meeting point of Reading, and in October a good chunk of us met up for a few beers in Reading. Ahhh I love all those friends soooo much. And I nearly missed the last train back to London – note to self, get hotel room in 2020.

7. Met Office Tour

At the end of February, my dearest sister and my dearest friend took me for a secret birthday weekend away, which ended being in Exeter.

Not only did we have a tour of the Met Office, which was pretty interesting and not too dumbed-down, we had a little tour of under Exeter and a pleasant evening in a cute cottage in the middle of nowhere.

It was that ridiculously warm and sunny weekend too, not that we were outside in the sun for much of it. A pretty crap roast dinner to finish though.

6. M&S

At the beginning of 2019, I realised that I needed to move on from Lovespace to be able to progress – and have a decent-paying job.

I’d had a few interviews – one was a disaster, others reasonable – various phone interviews that I never heard back from and plenty of my time being wasted.

Which all meant I had a good bit of practice, but also some skepticism when I went for my 3 hour interview at M&S. I knew I did well, but still wasn’t convinced that I’d be offered it – I knew it was a fair jump.

But I did get offered the job, and I am smashing it. So happy to be working there.

5. Birthday Roast

Of course there is a roast dinner in the list! I always get nervous about organising my birthday – in particular as to whether anyone will actually turn up.

I didn’t make it easy for people – arranging a roast at the Little Blue Door, which just has a blue door at the front – at least a couple of people walked by.

Not only was it an excellent roast dinner – proper thick gravy too for my birthday, but it also had pornographic art in the toilets, a real quirky feel inside and I had some wonderful attendees. My sister is arranging my 40th. She has quite some effort to beat this.

4. The Museum of What The Fuck in Portugal

I had a super delightful weekend in Portugal visiting two favourites in November. Good food, good chat, walking the dogs and a bit of adventuring.

However, the real highlight was the “What The Fuck Is This” museum (I’m not sure it has a name) in one of the local villages. It is quite something.

3. Storm in Serbia

My short holiday to Serbia was a whole bucket of fun. Loads of cheap beer, some museum stuff, lots of nonsense chat.

However the most amusing part of the trip was just arriving back to a local bar before it absolutely hammered down – at my insistence on walking fast. Cue drinking shots of “liquid cocaine” (blue coloured water with baking soda on top…don’t get too excited), watching the rain hammer down, followed by a gorgeous meal in the restaurant opposite and a fun evening.

I loved Belgrade – it had that early Berlin feel about it, and is very much a party city too – if disorganised and allegedly ridden by corruption…though not for me to say.

2. Blacklock

I’d been wanting to go to Blacklock for ages – pretty much ever since I moved to London, but was afraid that it might not live up to expectations. I think I managed a good 100 or so roast dinners before I finally cracked and booked it – several weeks in advance, of course.

It didn’t disappoint – amazing meat, gorgeous gravy, excellent service. So much so that I need to find an excuse to go back again. Ooooh like my birthday – though that is on Wednesday night, so no roast dinner.

The best news is that they are opening up another restaurant in Covent Garden – and there is no reason why I cannot review that too, is there?

1. London Zoo. With my Mum.

We all applied for tickets for The Ashes at Lords. I won two tickets and my sister won two tickets. Alas, I had Saturday tickets and my sister had Friday tickets.

My parents now visit London a few times a year and all are very enjoyable occasions – I’m tempted to suggest 4 visits last year. We had a random draw to see who would go with my sister on the Friday – my Dad was picked, so myself and my mother had to find something in London to do.

My mother suggested going to London Zoo, which I was well up for. I often spend time with my sister, and quite often with just my Dad – it is much more rare that just me and my mother go somewhere.

I enjoyed walking around and seeing the animals – though the food in the restaurant was probably some of the worst food I’ve had all year. Highlight by a long way was the sloth – which was carrying its baby, and came right up to us and over us in the rainforest enclosure. Mesmorising.

Gosh that took longer to write than I planned – no wonder I waited until my detox to write it up properly.

Thanks for being a part of it, or just enjoying my dribblings. See you during 2020.

Review Of 2019 Goals

I used to write full lists of goals for every year, forget about them and then review them at the end of the year.

Though over the last few years, I’ve put much less effort into writing goals, and much more effort into achieving.

So much so, that I never got around to writing goals for 2019 – but I did have a few in my head.

1. Get a significant pay rise or a new job

I failed to get any form of pay-rise – only a “we’ll look at it at the end of the year”, and yes, Brexit was partly to blame. So I started to look for a new job and ended up in the perfect job at M&S. At my level, I probably couldn’t have got a better job – in every way so far it has been perfect to me.

Can I give myself 200%?

2. Go to 4 new countries

Close. I went to Spain and Portugal, but I’d already been to those.

New countries were Serbia, Albania and Greece – yeah I’d never been to Greece. It was only the second (and third) time that I’d left the EU.

Butrint National Park

3. Replace all my socks

I replaced a few – but I still have old socks with holes in, or that are just very tired-looking. This wasn’t helped by Happy Socks putting their prices up to £11.99 a pair.

4. Three month Detox

Smashed it – though I did have a 0.5% alcohol beer near the end. And promptly went back onto apple juice for the rest of the evening – yuck.

5. Lose weight

I put on 1kg over the year. Which is the best I have done for years – though clearly still a failure. Yes, I will be having the same target in 2020.

I’m hoping to write more specific goals for 2020 – there was a reason why I wrote them in the first place, and I have actually achieved some of the more important ones.

I have proven the benefit of setting goals, and hopefully I will do so this next year.