August 2011 in Train Operations
A reporter is concerned about the fatigue experienced by Drivers who are rostered to do spare shifts on early turns at Blackpool depot.
For early turns some spare shifts can start at 06:30, which the reporter states does not affect sleep patterns as they are close to the regular shift times for early starts. However, spare shifts can be rostered to start at 03:35, 04:15 or 04:45. These spare shifts are covered by other Drivers and the reporter understands that they are arranged so that they fit closely to the current roster.
Drivers are notified 72 hours in advance of the spare shifts they are to do. However, the reporter states that this still does not help when sleep adjustment of more than two hours is required for these shifts. The reporter states that the drastic change is causing Drivers to experience fatigue whilst working the following day.
Until recently, a change to the start time of one and a half hours was allowed and this was easier to adjust to. Also, although the fatigue index is used, the reporter believes that the spare shift should be allocated so that sleep patterns are not disrupted by more than one and a half hours.
Response from Northern Rail
Northern are unsure why the reporter believes that changes have occurred with regard to the movement of spares. The three hours permissible spare movement was part of the formerFirst North Western Driver Restructuring Agreementand nothing has changed from that other than shift turn length comparison being used to allocate spares rather than time order, which reduces the risk of fatigue. In fact the old agreement required 48 hours posting; we have now increased this to 72 hours and for changes after this, only 90 minutes movement is permitted. Under recent productivity discussions we further improved the risk of fatigue by agreeing that where one or more spare Drivers can catch a job with the same turn length comparison, the Driver allocated will be the one with longest rest period from previous turn of duty. No turns can commence before 04:00 following rest days.
We have not been made aware of any concerns regarding fatigue concerns at Blackpool, and this issue has not been raised at Company Council level. We fatigue score all links and the 'real time' fatigue scores (reflecting actual hours worked) do not highlight anything that gives cause for concern at Blackpool. Having specifically reviewed the last four weeks working hours for all Drivers and all links at Blackpool, there are only a couple of instances (across all Drivers and all days) in the whole period where individual fatigue risk has touched the benchmark fatigue score, and on the whole all individuals are well below the benchmark level. Having analysed the link structure and diagrams, we can see that some spare turns could have the hours slightly better adjusted to weight the long ones to the long turns, and we could potentially alter spare turn placement to increase rest periods. Splitting some of the pairs of spare turns could reduce the variability of booking on times. We will discuss these potential changes at the next timetable change, but it must be remembered that any changes will be subject to agreement, and there is always a challenge meeting everyone's individual requirements during link compilation.