At work, there’s always a couple of “spare” drivers in case of sickness or disruption. Since the COVID pandemic, only one spare driver has to sit at the depot whilst any others remain at home “on call”.

Today, I am “on call”. There’s a chance I’ll get called in but if not, it means an extra day at home before my 5 day long weekend 😀

I’m also “on call” next Saturday and spare next Sunday- just waiting for next weeks roster to confirm if the Sunday spare turn is “on call” too 👍🏻

Eventually, I wanted to try something a bit different so applied for a job with a local coach company (later bought out by a large, national coach company).

Coach driving wasn’t for me though, and I left after only a couple of months to start a non-driving role until 9 years later, I applied successfully to be a train driver.

That’s my bus driving history 😬

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It was at this time that I moved to the Medway towns and started work for another local bus company (part of the larger company who owned the garages I’d worked at in London).

It was definitely less stressful compared to London!

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After a year, I decided to move back to where I was born in Kent and started work for a local bus company (which had been started from scratch when I was a child).

I loved it there but a large company had recently bought it out and it started to change- we were no longer a family there.

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Whilst at the garage in east London, I got to drive the iconic Routmaster on the 38 from Clapton Pond to Victoria. They were horrible things to drive but the short ones (they were made in 2 different lengths) had been refurbished and weren’t too bad to drive!

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During 2002, I was made redundant twice in a row. Living in north London at the time, I saw a recruitment advert for bus driving. “You could drive this bus”, the advert on the side of the bus said.

Logically, obtaining a PSV (Public Service Vehicle) licence would keep me in employ anywhere I chose to move to, so it was a no-brained.

I did the course, passed my test and started to drive buses at a garage in north London, before transferring to a garage in east London.

For anyone who takes a closer look at this photo, the cabinet is full of 1:76 scale model buses.

15 years ago, I used to drive buses and started to collect the vehicle type, livery and route which I’d actually driven (which were a fair few over the years).

Eventually, I started to add rare and unique models to my collection until I amassed the 60 odd which I have now.

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I just found out that a colleague from my shift at work got lumbered with a night shift for overtime over the weekend too.

I was going to mock him, but he took great pleasure in telling me he had the short shift which started at 10pm but actually finishes at 2am. Bastard.

We’re taking it in turns to use the steamer and I’m only posting when I haven’t got it. I’m not dossing and drinking beer whilst my wife does all the hard work 😓

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We’re making good progress and it’s being made less tedious with beer*.

This may sound odd, but I never previously appreciated how hot steam can get (note to self: keep fingers clear of the wallpaper steamer).

*I’m drinking Zubr, which is a Polish beer. My wife is Polish and introduced me to it- it’s quite nice (and strong) for a lager. My second favourite Polish lager is Tyskie 👍🏻

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I asked my wife to strip for me and when I didn’t hear from her for an hour, I went to look for her.

I found her in the living room, having way too much fun 😮

I guess we’re decorating this room now. I hate decorating.

I put my name down for overtime on my long weekend (Friday to Tuesday) and got given a shift on Sunday. On the one hand this is nice because we get an enhanced rate on a Sunday but on the other hand, it’s a night shift which finishes at 7am on Monday morning 😱

I’ve got one of those rare jobs which takes me up to Bedford today. I’ve travelled here as a passenger and am due to take a train as far as Luton, before picking up a train on my usual route to Rainham.

The 465/466 rolling stock is interesting as the two different types are almost the same, but we’re built by different manufacturers. I don’t know enough about them to share with you, but Wikipedia has the details.

Soon, we’ll have the 700s and 717s trundling around the same region and although they’re identical in appearance, they’ll be in different liveries.

There’s all so another sister company’s (Great Northern) class 717s, but they’re an entirely different story 😬

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In the meantime, one of our sister companies (Southeastern) has had the franchise extended (the whole franchise system is a mess at the moment due to COVID, and TOCs will ultimately be back under government control). As part of the franchise agreement, their ageing 465/466 is due to be replaced and they are taking on the displaced 707s (which will run from Grove Park and Slade Green depots, although apparently staff at the Southeastern depot at my location are being trained on them).

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Fundamentally, the 707 is identical to the 700 but it doesn’t have any toilets onboard. However, the modular construction of these units mean that toilets can easily be retrofitted as all necessary plumbing and wiring is already in place.

When First took over the franchise (it was renamed South Western), they decided they no longer wanted the 707s and they were effectively scrapped before they even entered service. Instead, an entirely different type of train has been ordered.

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Our Train Operating Company (TOC)‘s fleet now consists of only Siemens class 700 stock, which replaced 319s and 377s.

The 319s got sent all over the place, with some of them being reclassified as a 769 Flex (hybrid). The 377s went to our sister TOC, Great Northern.

The 700s are fixed formation units; 8 car (Reduced Length Unit/RLU) and 12 car (Full Length Unit/FLU).

The company which previously ran the South West Trains franchise (Stagecoach) ordered 30 x 5 car (fixed length) class 707s.

@mike If you don’t mind me asking, do you host Chinwag yourself or are you using a provider? If you host yourself, what’s your setup?

I was putting on my socks this morning when I suddenly had a sharp, stabbing pain through the right side of my chest. I couldn’t move with the agony for a few minutes.

The sharp pain has gone but a less-intense, continuous agony has remained and I’m short of breath.

I may have cracked a rib whilst putting my socks on. How pathetic is that?

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Chinwag Social

Consider this a friendly, local pub. Make yourself at home, bring your friends, have a good time! Meet new people, have a laugh, enjoy the ambience, and the Oxford commas.