After I arrived home on Friday, I received a call from the Traffic Manager who asked me if I did not want to please help them out on Saturday as they were going to be running extra trains due to an expected increase in passengers because of a big Rugby Match between the Springboks (South Africa) and the All Blacks (New Zealand) at Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg. I would be signing on at the Depot at 12h00 and signing off at 22h00.
It must be said that I don’t normally work Afternoon Shifts as I swap them for Early Morning shifts and that this was my first ‘Sports Special Day’ as a Driver.
I arrived at the Depot and signed on. Bennie was the Route Supervisor on duty and he proceeded to explain what we – the specially booked Drivers – were suppose to do.
Basically, we had to prepare and take out four 8-car trains to Hatfield Station and let the Drivers of the 4-car trains, already on the line, swap trains with us. We would then return to the Depot, stable the train and await further instructions. Two other 8-Car trains would be prepared and held on Standby for the Airport Link.
After a bit of small talk, I went to my train. The three other 8-Car Trains departed before me and the Drivers returned with the 4-Car Trains. I departed dead head for Hatfield station. Before I reached my destination, I received a call from Control instructing me to take the train to Park Station instead of to the Depot.
Halfway there, Control called again and told me that they decided that I should stable my train in the Depot and they would send me out later.
This was nice as I could have more small talk with Bennie! After about two hours, my radio sprang to life – it was Control and they wanted me to take the train I brought in Dead Head to Park Station.
Now, it’s worth noting that on special days like this, operational abnormalities can occur – I’m not talking about incidents/accidents but rather that one should be alert because a good example is that a signal may be at Danger where you may expect to find it normally at Proceed.
Control called to inform me that the signal at the next station was at Danger so that they could allow an airport link train to go before me (I’m an unscheduled train, so it doesn’t make sense making a train officially in service – and carrying passengers – late and it was the weekend anyway so I wouldn’t be holding up traffic behind me).
Soon, I received a Proceed Aspect and I went on my way. Once again, before reaching the signal that allows one to enter Park, Control called and told me that I would find the signal at Danger and that, once I’ve stopped at it, to call them. I did as instructed and then something happened that was quite interesting – they told me that the platform they were admitting me to was occupied and had a train (4-Car) in it and pulled up to the Buffer-stop. They were going to give me a Call On signal and I was to share the platform with the train. I drove on sight and stopped in the platform.
Over the next few hours we directed the happy supporters (yes, South Africa won!) to the correct trains. I let the driver of the other 4-Car train take my train first and I would take his train later.
As mentioned earlier, abnormal circumstances occur on these special days. The Traffic Manager instructed us to inform Control if there were any passengers that missed the last train to depart which was at 20h30. If there were no more passengers, Control would allow us to proceed straight to the Depot.
Well, a few passengers missed the last train and a few were needing to go all the way to Hatfield.
We departed Park at 21h15. At the end of the day, we reached the Depot and signed off duty at 22:45.
I really enjoyed this Sports Special day as it was something out of the ordinary.