Driver’s Diary: Saturday, 8 November 2014; Shift 8 – Depot

It must be said that I really do enjoy driving in Degraded Mode. I do not, however, enjoy the fact that passengers are delayed and trains/platforms are extra full! Degraded Mode is a break from the normal day to day running and can really test the mettle of a Train Driver.

On this morning, the Southbound Sweeper train started out the Depot as usual and then came to a stop just before the first station towards the south (While driving, the Train Driver constantly checks key cab indicators and when they are not normal, he applies Emergency Brakes in certain instances).

I was not on this train. I was a passenger on a Dead Head train northwards, when the call came through from Control that there was a power failure on the Southbound track between the Depot and the affected station. They were going to implement Single Line Running between these two points, we would cross over at the Pocket Track and then travel Southwards on the Northbound track (Not a problem on The Golden Railway as the lines are bidirectionally signaled).

I did two short trips before having to drive south. Since it was a few hours after the call, when I relieved the train, I called Control to check if I was still going to cross over at the Pocket Track to the Northbound track, which they confirmed.

One must always be on high alert in these situations as conditions aren’t normal. Even though the tracks run parallel (the Golden Railway features predominantly a double track mainline), train handling is slightly different on each track and signal sighting is different too. It was quite a strange feeling driving south on the northbound track – somehow things even look different!

After the Neutral Section (where we change from one supplier of electricity to another) there were Traction Linemen inspecting the catenary with a Road-Rail Vehicle (RRV).

I stopped at the next station and was met by a Signal at Danger, after all the passengers disembarked/embarked the train, the signal was still at Danger, so I called Control to enquire about it. They informed me that I was to wait for a train to cross on to the Airport link and then the signal would clear for me. In Degraded Mode it’s important to let your passengers know what is happening to avoid some of them getting upset (something I learned in the restaurant industry when a customer’s meal is taking longer than normal to prepare), so I made a PA announcement (if one’s train fails, you can ask the Conductor to do this while you attend to the problem).

After departing, I arrived at the terminal station 5 minutes late (remember the Airport train? Waiting for it to clear the section delayed me). I departed on time but was held at the next station waiting for the other train also held by an airport service (the Tunnel on the Golden Railway features a Single Line Mainline between three of the stations). As I arrived at the northern station a call came through from Control that the problem was sorted out and that the trains are just running late.

It being the weekend, the delays weren’t so bad. It was also early in the morning so luckily not too busy. The rest of my day ran smoothly.

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