Driver Only Operation (DOO) Discussion

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Driver Only Operation (DOO) Discussion

Post by Redirect Left » 04 Mar 2018 19:20

As probably everyone in the UK will know by now, we are pushing towards driver only operation for a large amount of services.
There are lots of strikes still being organised in opposition to this, causing major disruption to services usually over a 12 to 48 hour period at least once every two-three month lately. The most recent being yesterday (03/03/18)

So what is everyones opinion on this, are workers right to be striking, is this a potentially dangerous thing to do, will it benefit or obstruct smooth operation of the network?
I'd also love to hear input from non UK folk, especially if your services are already DOO, do you have any sort of concerns, or actual events that may have been stopped by having an extra guard or conductor aboard?

My personal feelings are, keep the conductor and/or guard onboard. On some services passengers may get rowdy, which a driver may be totally unaware of in his little cab. There are also the needs of disabled people to consider, especially as UK trains do not have automated ramps on them, I fear that the needs of the disabled will suffer terribly if DOO goes ahead, especially in certain areas where there are more disabled people, such as near. Especially as many stations are small, and unmanned. So the driver would need to get out of his cab, help the person aboard, get back in, seems like that'd slow things down, unless trains are retrofitted with ramps, or they have a guy running around in a van and a ramp to where assistance is needed...
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Re: Driver Only Operation (DOO) Discussion

Post by Gwyd » 04 Mar 2018 21:58

So I live in South West London where we have:
South Western Railway, striking over DOO and currently has a guard.
London Overground/Underground, a very different service so has no guard.
And a little distance away, I have Southern. They are probably the most infamous with this issue, despite many services already being DOO*.
With that, there's also Thameslink, which has no guard.

So I have some experience of each side. On SWR, the guard tends to just stay in his/her middle or rear cab, but you can access them. This reassures me, and possibly others since if I am confused by something, I have a reliable source of help on board. In terms of actually helping dispatch the train, I don't think they help much. London Overground/Underground and Thameslink do fine with the cameras/mirrors the drivers have available to them, but to me keeping a second person on medium/long distance trains is very important. Also, there is no benefit (other than financial) to getting rid of the second employed person on the train, whatever his/her job

*These DOO Southern services are helped by platform staff who have various tools to inform the driver on when to go, for example at Clapham Junction. I rather like this system for metro services.

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Re: Driver Only Operation (DOO) Discussion

Post by YNM » 05 Mar 2018 12:21

If there's less platforms than trains, it's better to have staff on the platform instead.

If there's less trains than platforms, guards could be useful.


I don't see how a driver-only operation could help, we've seen some "errors" even with guards (the whole people-fall-on-track stuff), a long train doesn't offer good visibility (LU mostly works with mirrors as there's only 8 cars). Shorter trains means it's a less used station, which means it's probably unstaffed and you need to pay for tickets still.

The only way out would be for a system like busses (tap when comes in). But even that would only work for short trains.
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Re: Driver Only Operation (DOO) Discussion

Post by Geo Ghost » 07 Mar 2018 21:44

Of course, my opinion on DOO is going to be based very differently from most others.

I am very strongly against DOO entirely, and even more so with the cutting back of platform staff dispatching trains which I firmly believe is an even further dangerous move.

Thing is, a standard 12 car train could carry up to.. 1000 people fully? Seating and standing. Probably more squashed in and full & standing.
One person... to look after 1000. ONE PERSON... if things go wrong or there is an emergency, is solely responsible for the safety of 1000 people. If someone happens to that driver, being the only member of staff on the train, there is no one else there to help or do anything.
If the driver left a failed train to wait for the assisting one for example, there is no one on board to monitor the passengers or situation. If someone decided to jump out and others follow suit (which we know does and has happened yefore).. How is anyone going to know about it till a call from another driver comes through saying "I've just mowed down 20 people on the track!"

In a fire, one person cannot block all lines, put out an emergency call, get the power turned off, and at the same time reassure passengers and manage an emergency evacuation.

In an emergency or a disaster, if the driver isn't out of action or unconscious, you've again only got one person to manage the Emergency looking after their passengers, their train, and also stopping other trains from approaching the area as well as getting help. At least with another safety critical person, they can assist if there is a problem (be it emergency, disaster, or even just a train failure whilst helping to try and sort the issue!)

Then we come to DOO operation.
DOO cameras on trains are rubbish. No two ways.
They are fine on a perfect day with not too many people. But weather conditions, sunlight, low light, too many people, faulty cameras (happens often!), or the fact some go out the second a trains motors engage... No. Absolute rubbish.
Platform DOO monitors fair not much better really. They still have the same issues.
DOO Mirrors, ok for short trains on a quiet station. Though in the Peak you try looking so many feet ahead into a big mirror, and see all the way down the train on a packed platform. No. It's not safe and takes time.

At least platform staff can fully see up.and down a train and make sure everything is clear at all times.
A guard can also do the same, and position themselves in a safe place and be assisted by platform staff. Plus they can stop the train leaving if something happens (and this happens daily somewhere. Even if it is minor!).

Then comes security. Who looks after passenger safety on-board with DOO? Might be lucky to have some revenue staff maybe. That's about it. No guarantee of it though. Who do you turn to if you're not feeling safe, find something wrong, or there's trouble? Nope, no one.


I stand my ground in saying and firmly believing DOO is a totally unsafe practice at all times. You're a fool to believe otherwise and the DFT continue to endanger lives of everyone by pushing it forward.
To say it is "Tried and tested and proved to be safe" is an absolute lie. Ots proven to be unsafe on many occasions, but ithat is ignored.

DOO is only safe up until conditions change or something goes wrong.
DCO/DGO, or even having some safety critic person on-board at all times, every passenger train, keeps things safe for when conditions do change or things go wrong.


/Rant over :P

Also, typing on my phone isn't easy. I expect many typos or spelling mistakes about ;)

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Re: Driver Only Operation (DOO) Discussion

Post by Captain Rand » 08 Mar 2018 03:02

We live in a world motivated by greed.
Imagine how much money those companies will save if they don't have to pay Guards.
Will they pass those savings on to the customer? Of course not. It'll go straight into the pockets of shareholders.

It's the same mentality that allows big pharma to exist, they will let people die if they can't afford the drugs.

Don't be angry at striking staff, they're doing it for your benefit.

I'm against DOO.

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Re: Driver Only Operation (DOO) Discussion

Post by Gwyd » 08 Mar 2018 06:10

Geo Ghost wrote:Then comes security. Who looks after passenger safety on-board with DOO? Might be lucky to have some revenue staff maybe. That's about it. No guarantee of it though. Who do you turn to if you're not feeling safe, find something wrong, or there's trouble? Nope, no one.
In addition to this, the advice is to get off at the next station if you feel unwell/unsafe etc. But if I take an example like North Mordern, on Thameslink, there is no staff. One man on the train. 0 staff on the platform. It just doesn't work.

EDIT: I meant Mordern South, North Mordern may not actually exist.

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Re: Driver Only Operation (DOO) Discussion

Post by YNM » 08 Mar 2018 07:19

Geo Ghost wrote:Thing is, a standard 12 car train could carry up to.. 1000 people fully? Seating and standing. Probably more squashed in and full & standing.
One person... to look after 1000. ONE PERSON... if things go wrong or there is an emergency, is solely responsible for the safety of 1000 people. ...
Could easily be a couple more down here, with gangway seating and triple-line standing... That's 5 to 6 row of people more than 200m long !

Labour here is a lot cheaper though, and the system is subsidized.


I have some tangently related questions : Who watches the entirety of DLR stations ?
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Re: Driver Only Operation (DOO) Discussion

Post by Gwyd » 08 Mar 2018 07:25

As a matter of fact, almost every DLR train (I'm not entirely sure) has a member of staff, who doesn't drive but operates the doors and helps the passengers.

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Re: Driver Only Operation (DOO) Discussion

Post by JamieLei » 08 Mar 2018 20:45

My personal preference (and I stress personal!), is for two members of staff on mainline trains, but with the second member of staff relieved from door duties. This frees up the role to actually do some proper customer service, which is impossible when there's frequent stops, and seems to be used often as an excuse not to have to leave the cab. This is the mode of working on Southeastern High Speed, and it works wonderfully, I get a really professional ticket check, and the Train Manager is always really visible in the cab.

For metro services, as a customer I have no problem with DOO if I know that stations are staffed. I never feel unsafe on London Overground. It's also a lot more flexible for staff to be at the station rather than on the train (if you had to pick one or the other); recently I took a train from Caledonian Road and Barnsbury during the heavy snow we had, and the station staff were spreading salt all over the platforms.

Also worth stressing that DOO is not necessarily a private company profit thing; TfL have been one of the biggest proponents of it; the first thing that happened on London Overground was that all the guards were gone. And DOO was introduced and rolled out by none other than British Rail.
Any opinions expressed are purely mine and not that of any employer, past or present.

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Re: Driver Only Operation (DOO) Discussion

Post by YNM » 11 Mar 2018 07:41

JamieLei wrote:...

For metro services, as a customer I have no problem with DOO if I know that stations are staffed. I never feel unsafe on London Overground. It's also a lot more flexible for staff to be at the station rather than on the train (if you had to pick one or the other); recently I took a train from Caledonian Road and Barnsbury during the heavy snow we had, and the station staff were spreading salt all over the platforms.

Also worth stressing that DOO is not necessarily a private company profit thing; TfL have been one of the biggest proponents of it; the first thing that happened on London Overground was that all the guards were gone. And DOO was introduced and rolled out by none other than British Rail.
I guess TfL falls under "more trains than platforms". And having a staffed station is always nice.
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Re: Driver Only Operation (DOO) Discussion

Post by Redirect Left » 11 Mar 2018 09:00

In the UK, a recent announcement of two further strikes on some services due to the introduction of DOO (BBC News).

My main concern with DOO is really how it'll affect those on board. I live near a few large stadiums, Huddersfield & Manchester have stadiums that participate in the highest level of football in the UK, the Premiership, and over in Leeds is another stadium that is well used. This means the trains are often packed for fans going to matches and gigs, and its no secret that UK football fans can be very rowdy.
It worries me that it's possible there won't be a conductor/guard on board to keep things mildly calm, even if the driver is given a CCTV feed. It isn't like he really act upon things.
Also for odd occurences, lately a train seperated and its carriages drifted apart - it seems wise that, in these hopefully incredibly rare circumstances, a member of staff be present in each end of the train.
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Re: Driver Only Operation (DOO) Discussion

Post by YNM » 15 Mar 2018 00:38

Redirect Left wrote:My main concern with DOO is really how it'll affect those on board. I live near a few large stadiums, Huddersfield & Manchester have stadiums that participate in the highest level of football in the UK, the Premiership, and over in Leeds is another stadium that is well used. This means the trains are often packed for fans going to matches and gigs, and its no secret that UK football fans can be very rowdy.
Get a Football special a la BR ? You can specifically put the guards and bobby on them.
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Re: Driver Only Operation (DOO) Discussion

Post by yorkie » 15 Mar 2018 22:20

Redirect Left wrote:...
It worries me that it's possible there won't be a conductor/guard on board to keep things mildly calm...
It is rare to see a member of staff patrolling the length of the train on rowdy TPE services on a Saturday evening in my experience.

Contrast that with Scotrail electric DOO services, where a ticket examiner is constantly patrolling the train (and is not allowed to sit in the back cab).

The staff presence on the SWR services that have non-commercial Guards isn't always particularly visible.

So it is not as simple as some people are saying.

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Re: Driver Only Operation (DOO) Discussion

Post by Pilot » 21 Mar 2018 15:09

JamieLei wrote:My personal preference (and I stress personal!), is for two members of staff on mainline trains, but with the second member of staff relieved from door duties. This frees up the role to actually do some proper customer service, which is impossible when there's frequent stops
I had the pleasure of visiting Northern Ireland in September, and found the ways that they dealt with the doors there somewhat appealing to the whole safety vs conductor doing customer service argument.

On arriving at a station, the driver would release the doors. This allowed the conductor to continue dealing with a passenger, for example, printing a ticket (the Tickets on NIR are weird, but that's another story). However, when it came to departing, the conductor was the one who actually closed the doors and lets the train depart. For this to work, I think each carriage had to have a door control panel, however, that shouldn't be too difficult, surely? This in turn releases more time for the conductor to do the Revenue Protection/Customer service/safety aspects of their job, whilst also relieving the driver of the Door closing process, especially when in some cases you've only got those god-awful mirrors to look back at your train in.

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Re: Driver Only Operation (DOO) Discussion

Post by Drury » 21 Mar 2018 15:47

This is trash, what we actually need is conductor only operation.
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Re: Driver Only Operation (DOO) Discussion

Post by Gwyd » 21 Mar 2018 17:12

Just sit at a station all day, opening and closing the doors? Sounds much safer, and more efficient.

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Re: Driver Only Operation (DOO) Discussion

Post by YNM » 22 Mar 2018 03:23

Drury wrote:This is trash, what we actually need is conductor only operation.
^^ This ^^

Offload the driving work to a computer ("AI"). Unlike self-driving cars, self-driving trains have been around for longer, proven entirely versatile, and doesn't have to deal with someone jumping onto tracks (ie. "you jump, you die" is fine).
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