The One Where… Arty Had A Mad Two Days

Today and yesterday have been rather mental at work… so it’s time for a summary post!


Everything was going smoothly until my departure from Manningtree for the first of two round trips to Harwich Town. The driver that myself and my Driving Instructor (DI) relieved when they brought the unit we would take out back the same way advised us that everything was fine, except it was a little slippy out there. It’s November, so low adhesion is to be expected!

Between Mistley and Wrabness, things started getting a bit weird. We noticed outside we could see flashes of light, and the unit suddenly jerking and no longer taking power (due to the loss of voltage from the overhead lines, obviously!), which… well, that’s an issue! I’m terrified of lightning, but thankfully I was able to tell it wasn’t lightning because of the unit tugging when it happend… it was the pantographs (pans) arcing on the overhead lines above us. We usually have issues on the Harwich Town line with the overheads and the pantographs, so we contacted our fleet team and followed the usual procedures to fix this. The rest of the trip and most of the return journey back to Manningtree was great; we had the issues again in the same patch on the return, and took further steps to fix the issue. The second run to Harwich Town went smooth all the way through, however on the return the pans completely dropped on departure from Harwich International, and we therefore had no traction power at all; we came to a stop at the next signal, and reported this to the signaller and fleet. The decision was made to pull the unit from service at Manningtree, and a replacement unit was sent for. The driver of the 2101 service (which was cancelled) was dispatched to obtain the unit from Colchester.

Unfortunately… things were slightly more weird in the Manningtree area at this point. Both times I had departed from Manningtree for Harwich Town, I had to pass a signal at danger with the authority of the signaller, due to route setting issues due to a faulty set of points. When the failed train was to be shunted from Manningtree towards Mistley to reverse and be driven back to Colchester depot, it meant a third signal to be passed at danger with authority… but at this point, Network Rail had a Mobile Operations Manager (MOM) on site, who had to clip and pump points to allow us onto the branch, or trains on the mainline into the station. It was so many failures at just the wrong time all collated in the same area. What a night!


Today was my last day with my DI for a while… he has to take some leave of absence from Monday, and as such we had to share an emotional temporary farewell. I will be with a temporary DI as of next week, which means I’ll be again getting used to a new person and trying to gel with them. Thanks to my autism… this is sometimes a struggle.

However, it wouldn’t be a proper farewell on the railway if things didn’t go wrong somewhat! Our final journey was London Liverpool Street (LST) to Southend Victoria (SOV), and we were held at a red outside Stratford (reason unknown!), delaying us by four minutes. We then, approaching Shenfield, had a Call for Aid activated, and didn’t get any response from the person that pulled it. This meant when we came to a stand at Shenfield that one of us had to go back and check whether someone was injured and unconscious in the toilet it was activated in. This meant we were again delayed somewhat, and ended up with a final count of about seven minutes delay.

The railway is all about safety and service, and sometimes it means accepting that services will be delayed to make sure people are okay!

Today I also received a conditional offer of employment as a Metro Guard back at London Waterloo (WAT). Given everything I’ve recently discussed, I’m minded to accept the offer and return to comfortable territory. More on this soon!

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