Last Train Home Local

A First North Western Day

by Alex Holden, Salford, Lancashire, UK


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The Roster

MV 743  
RELWL xxx12:51
142/xxxMan Vic12:562Jxx
(10:46 from Kirkby)
Man Vic13:43
BTH(for 14:03 to Rochdale)
142/xxxMan Vic15:032JXX
Man Vic15:5415:572NXX
Man Vic18:252JXX
Off19:26 Hours:7h00  

fNW guards are not yet restructured, so we have minimum docket times of 7 hours. This is really a 6 hour 26 minute docket, under CRI, if it remained the same it would probably be less than that. We currently get 25 minutes for booking on, reading notices, collecting SPORTIS etc and 20 minutes cashing up time. We get 5 minutes walking time to and from the messroom.

CRECollect Revenue Equipment
DREDeposit Revenue Equipment
PTPrepare Train


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The Story

Here's my little fNW contribution. This is the job I did today, which is one of the better jobs in the bottom link (we still have link progression at Manchester Victoria)

I live only a stone's throw from Victoria, so I leave home at about 12:10. Can't remember where this docket goes, so I decide not to collect my SPORTIS while walking to the signing on point. It will probably be a 37 machne job - a 37 is for destinations west of Manchester plus Oldham / Rochdale and is the machine we use most, a 38 is for stations to Huddersfield and Wakefield, though it shares codes for Oldham, Clitheroe and Liverpool. Book on and see it's a Rochdale and Southport job, so that's definately a 37 machine. Quick shufty at the late notice case, go to the booking office and pick one up along with float for the day.

Wander back to messroom, stick float in cash satchel (I can't believe I worked without one for 6 months, they're indespensable) and decide to leave jacket at Manchester as it's so hot, so chuck SCWID wallet, docket and diary into satchel and proceed to can vending machine.

Sufficiently supplied with lilt, I saunter over to platform 6 where my unit should be waiting. There it is, a refurbed 142 and just a few people inside, these Rochdale jobs are not very busy during the day.

Leave Manchester right time, and onto Miles Platting bank heading for Oldham Mumps, next stop. Got quite a bit of time to Oldham, so do my SQUIRE announcement, have to announce all stations in GMPTE with connections where neccessary prior to arrival and an announcement stating calling stations when leaving major stations. Technically this means that I should have started my arriving at Deansgate announcment when I'm still doing my departing Oxford Road one, but I'm not going that way today, thank God...

Right, plenty of time to do tickets, 2 for Oldham, 1 for Rochdale, the rest for Milnrow. Sold one, SDS of course. No need to rush. Get to Oldham, let the 2 off, right time, off we go. 1 on at Shaw, wants to tell me his life story before getting on the train, but eventually gets on. Leave 1 down. He gets off next stop. Can't hang about on the branch, there will be another train waiting at Rochdale to go round the single line to Shaw. Get held up round here and you hold up another train. Virtually impossible to make up time through here as well.

Arrive in Rochdale right time, suprise suprise. We've just gone round the loop and we're now facing Manchester. No need to reverse when going right round.:) Reporting number officially changes here at Rochdale. This unit came from Kirkby, it's going round the branch and it'll berth in platform 1 until 14:03 when it'll go round again and probably become a Lime St train, but I digress.

All stations to Manchester, no real problems, do tickets after each stop, and berth right time. Some like leaving the doors open as it's only 20 minutes until it's out again, but I never do, so it's make sure train's empty, lights out, close doors, shove off.

Break, so it's dump traps and SPORTIS in messroom and upstairs to McDonald's. I seem to have developed a reputation for always going to McDonald's but I can't be bothered to bring a packed lunch or go somewhere else. Nice break this one, a little over an hour.

Next job is the 15:03 to Rochdale then onto Southport. Booked a 142, but pleasure of pleasures, a 150/1 is sitting in platform 1. Quick check on the departure screen to make sure my job hasn't been moved, it hasn't, so I've got a decent unit over some of the worst track in the country rather than a nodding donkey.:) Kind of makes up for having 2x142s yesterday for 2 Blackpools instead of the 150/153 booked.

If you've analysed my docket correctly, you'll see that I'm going round the branch the other way. All stations to Shaw (via Rochdale) then Oldham Mumps and Victoria. After that it's Southport. I was booked to leave Rochdale at 15:25, but the unit working the 14:56 ex Victoria had not yet cleared the single line. We left at 15:27, 2 down. We lost more time between Hollinwood and Failsworth, the driver having to report a safety of the line incident to the signalman. We ate up our recovery time and arrived at Manchester 2 down. We left 5 down.

For Southport we were booked to go over the Atherton route to Wigan, semi-fast, and onto Southport, also semi-express. The weather was fine and sunny leaving Salford Crescent, and I left the cab windows open to keep the cab cool while I went and did tickets. 7 minutes later, arriving at Swinton, it was a completely different picture, a really bad rainstorm. The cab was soaked.*

Closed windows quickly (for what good that did, stable doors and horses spring to mind) completed platform duties and set off for Walkden. Arrived Wigan still 5 down, and to stop boring you, arrived Southport 1 late.

It was fairly quiet from Southport to Wigan. At Gathurst, one station before Wigan, I noticed one of our conductors finishing off his doors and heading for Southport, seems normal, except I had expected to see him a lot earlier. Arrived Wigan early (recovery time to blame) so I popped in to see the station supervisor who told me there was flooding on the Salford to Bolton line (that storm was to blame) and there had also been lightening strikes. He had left Wigan 30 down and both he an I discussed the fact that his break in 3 hours' time would be severely curtailed due to the problems on the line and the fact that he had a 4 minute turnaround at Southport and a 10 at Manchester Airport, plus he had to negotiate Bolton / Salford another 3 times before his break.

Not many on at Wigan, I was expecting it to be fairly busy, probably because the timetable was all screwed up so most passengers were able to take another train, so I was able to get through with tickets quickly and cash up between Swinton and Manchester. :)

Chucked docket in, paid in, went home. :)

Tomorrow I'm rest day on Kirkby / Rochdale, but it's back to this for the rest of the week from Weds...


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Hope this was a good insight into a non-restructured docket, and gives you an idea of working pacers and sprinters within north Manchester and it's surrounding area.


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