Yesterday, I was booked on Standby 1. This normally entails – if everybody comes for their shift – me going with the Route Supervisor booked in Pretoria and help them load their Task Observations/Train Scorecards and assist in the event of Degraded Mode. Other times, like yesterday, it means I take the first open shift (when a Driver books off sick for example).
After the Route Supervisor at the Depot Despatch Office informed me that I was to cover the specific shift, I prepared my train for the day’s service as usual and waited for my departure time. As this time drew closer, the cab radio sprang to life – it was Control.
The Signaler called to say that they lost control of one of the turnouts ahead of me (In other words, the turnout wasn’t responding to their commands to change to the running direction for my train) and that I was to crank the turnout manually for the running direction of my train. Because the turnout was set against my train, he also could not Operate the signal for me to pass. He authorized me to Pass the Signal at Danger and instructed me to stop before the turnout so that I did not have to walk all the way there and back to my train and in doing so, saved time (Time is of the utmost importance on the Golden Railway).
As luck would have it, the Crank Handle is in another coach of the train, so I had to first run to retrieve it, then run back to the Driving Cab, climb down and check the turnout blades for obstructions, crank the turnout, go back to the train, climb aboard and inform Control that I’ve cranked the turnout and I’m ready to depart.
By this time, I was running 10 minutes late. As I suspected, they kept me at Sandton station at a Signal at Danger and brought the train I normally cross at Rosebank through (It is single track between Sandton and Rosebank and between Rosebank and Park). As soon as the track circuits cleared, I charged forward for Park Station.
Upon arriving at Park, I released the doors, deactivated and ran to active the other cab. Now, you must understand one thing – This is an 8-Car train and Yours Truly hates running but I’m proud to say that I did!
Now it was the easy part. On the way back to Pretoria, I cut my dwelling times (the time a train spends in a platform) to try to get on time to Pretoria, arriving only three minutes late (also, remember that I ‘gained’ time at Park by immediately changing cabs). The service wasn’t too delayed as I was one of the last trains out, so only mine and another train had to crank points.
With the exception of one of the 4 car train sets failing (not one of mine), the rest of the day went smoothly and the Pretoria Route Supervisor organised another Driver to finish the last part of my Journal so that I could still sign off on my time.