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The magazine for everyone at London Midland

making

history! 07 How we hit 100 per cent

inside this issue... ISSUE 2 | SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2011

www.londonmidland.com


2

1,000s

hello!

Welcome to the second issue of our new magazine – Between the Lines. I’m Scotty, a retail travel assistant at Milton Keynes, and I’m your guest editor.

F

irst of all, thanks for your feedback on the first issue. We’re really pleased you found it interesting and useful. I’ve worked on the railway for more than 30 years and I think it’s a pretty good read too. I enjoyed learning about other areas of the business and discovering more about other colleagues. Please continue to send the magazine team your feedback and any ideas for future issues. This time, check out our profile on Andre Dyer (p5). We’ve some fantastic success stories from two teams (p6-7) and more good news on how we’re reducing crowding (p8-9). Send us your letters to be in with a chance of winning high street vouchers and check out our film creds (p10). As you may be aware, I recently won an Ambassador Award, which was a big surprise. It was a fantastic honour and I’m really proud. As a result I’m also nominated for an industry-wide RailStaff Award so remember to vote! You can find out more about the awards and some of our top employee benefits (p11). Our fitness gurus Emma and Simon are back (p12), followed by ‘How to…’ (p13). There’s loads more packed into this issue and another great competition – turn to page 16 to find out more.

Scotty Scotty Kakkad Guest editor

it’s all about you... This is your magazine. So if you’d like something including, please get in touch. We’re looking to hear from individuals or teams with a story to tell. Are you working on something new, different or interesting? What do you do in your spare time? What matters to you at work? What do you want to know more or less about?

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Contact Between the Lines at btl@londonmidland.com If you are emailing from home, do leave your name so we know who to get back in touch with.

...is your quick stop for the latest news from across London Midland – follow it along the bottom of Between the Lines.

take to the streets

All the latest news

behind the lines A team of colleagues from across the business are meeting every other month to plan Between the Lines, headed up by our Engagement Manager Richard Baker.

Richard says: “It’s my job to ensure we’re keeping the content relevant to our people and our business. Our magazine team are working together to identify great ideas for stories and we’re always keen to hear your views.” Partnerships Manager Gerard Burgess, who is in the team, says: “A magazine team from across the company is a great idea because it ensures that every part of the business has a voice and can be heard.” If you’d like to get in touch with the magazine team, email btl@londonmidland.com

your mag

learn IT for free Interested in developing your IT skills and gaining a nationally recognised qualification? Then come along to an enrolment and information day. For details on future dates and course information contact Aaron Clapp on 07595 838730 or email newstlearning@ aol.co.uk

Between the Lines is now available to read online at www.btlmagazine.co.uk You can sign up to access Between the Lines anytime and anywhere you’re online. We’ll simply email you with a link to the latest issue as soon as it’s published. You can also use the site to access old copies of the magazine and get in touch with the magazine team.

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Bob Stevenson, Den Law (centre) and David Grayson

Between the Lines magazine is managed by Richard Baker and designed and produced by scarlettabbott – 01904 633399 | scarlettabbott.co.uk

� oops! we’re sorry, in the last issue of Between the Lines in our ‘we like being green’ article on page 2 we wrongly stated that we’d be equipping our 159 electric trains with energy meters. Of course there are in fact 100 electric trains – the rest are diesel.


sneak peek! Colleagues and their families enjoyed a special ‘preview’ journey on our new Class 172 fleet in advance of its public launch in September. The train journeyed across the Snow Hill lines from 30 August to 1 September – giving people a taste of what’s to come – and an excuse for a day out!

Adam Lee, William Green, Benjamin Williams and Ryan Fulwell our new apprentices at Tyseley. Kenneth Johnson, is a new Shunter, Bletchley. Noel Owens, Peter Wilde, Glen Prickett, Idris Edwards, Lee Aldridge and Mark Cameron our new drivers at Bletchley. Stewart Charlesworth is a Driver Manager, Leamington Spa.

� thanks to you

tickets please Two RPIs at Butlers Lane asked to see a customer’s ticket. He couldn’t produce one and left the station. The man later returned with another man and they assaulted our colleagues, who were left with some nasty injuries. A description of the men led to arrests and two suspects are on bail pending further enquiries.

breaking glass A male customer travelling on a cross city service to Bournville was attacked by another customer with a pint glass. He was left with facial injuries, requiring stitches. Three suspects were arrested. One admitted the offence and was charged with GBH with intent. fresh networks

a good deed indeed! We were the only UK rail company to help social media company Fresh Networks with rail travel for a charity event. So, as a thank you, the company has donated £200 to the NSPCC on our behalf, and offered to give colleagues some free social media training.

Thank you to all of the people who report and help to deal with difficult situations.

BritishTransportPolice

A big welcome to our new colleagues…

We take crime against our colleagues, our customers and our company, very seriously. Statistically, serious attacks on our colleagues and customers are rare, but we take each and every incident seriously by properly investigating and working with law enforcement agencies. Here are some recent cases.

A man tried to set fire to a train between Redditch and Alvechurch. He then kicked a train door trapping the conductor’s hand, breaking his wrist. The man was charged with arson, GBH on the conductor and assaulting a police officer. He has been bailed to appear at crown court.

We’re taking to the streets of Birmingham for the annual half marathon.

movers and shakers

donated to the NSPCC on our behalf

fire starter

keep on running This year’s race on 23 October will take thousands of runners around the city’s famous sites. Brenda Lawrence, Mark Lawton, Peter Dobbin, Becky Freeman and Heather Patrick from New Street are taking part. If you’d like to find out more or support colleagues’ chosen charities, email Heather Patrick at heather.patrick@londonmidland.com

200

£

3

The numbers you use to contact the British Transport Police (BTP) have changed. Please use the new numbers and update your mobile phone contacts and system records. To contact British Transport Police, call:

999 in an emergency 0300 123 2211 to report non-emergencies 0300 123 2277 to report a fatality 0300 123 2299 to contact a specific person or department at BTP If you don’t have access to the railway telephone network and need to contact the BTP Control Room in an emergency, call:

0300 123 9102 for London 0300 123 9103 for Birmingham Direct dial numbers for many BTP colleagues will also change. If you are unsure how to contact a specific person or department, you can call the voice-activated directory on 0300 123 2299 which will take you to the right extension.

for working hard and doing everything you could to keep the service running and colleagues and customers safe during the civil unrest.


4

how we’re doing

th3

num63r5 How we’re performing

Thanks, and well done to everyone who helped us to break yet another record back in Period 2. On 12 July, we delivered a brilliant 97.2 per cent PPM – our best Monday to Friday result ever.

7.8

PART

PART FULL

FULL

PART FULL

142 120

93.9 89.7 89.7

89.7

Regional PPM London and (Non-London Services) South Eastern PPM

PERIOD 5

PERIOD 4

PERIOD 3

87.0 PERIOD 5

PERIOD 3

PERIOD 5

89.9

London Midland MAA

customer complaints Period 5

6.5

%

Period 3: 7,688 complaints, that’s 106 per cent up on the last period as a direct result of problems on the west coast mainline.

Period 3

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7,688

Period 4

6,123 4,096

down

Period 5

up

� think we can do better…

90.6%

NATIONAL EXPRESS EAST ANGLIA

90.4%

SOUTHERN

89.1%

SOUTHEASTERN

89.1%

85.7%

(PPM latest MAA (Moving Annual Average) Period 5)

(all of the above industry periods)

%

INDUSTRY AVERAGE

VIRGIN TRAINS

89.0

London Midland PPM

Period 4

93.2 93.9

Find out how our PPM compares with the rest.

Period 5

127 118

PERIOD 4

92.2 92.3

93.0

Period 4

82 103

9,000 minutes

PERIOD 4

100 98 96 94 92 % 90 88 86 84 82 80

9,419 minutes

Period 3

compare 89.7%

cancellations

Period 5

PERIOD 3

%

7,051 minutes

Period 4

PERIOD 5

9.1

Period 3

PERIOD 4

Period 3

delay minutes

PERIOD 3

customer journey growth

how we

then tell us how we can improve our performance by emailing your suggestions to performance@londonmidland.com

down

Performance Process Manager Nathan Thompson explains: “The past three periods have brought varied results. The underlying theme of poor Network Rail performance on the West Coast South being our biggest barrier to improvement. “Period 3 reported our second best performance ever on delay minutes, narrowly behind Period 2. However, Period 5 is dominated by a major performance incident at Sutton Coldfield on 10 August when 323216 failed at Sutton Coldfield causing 937 delay minutes, eight full and 31 part cancellations. This equates to around £20,000 in performance penalties. “Unfortunately, Network Rail West Coast South is 37 per cent worse than target after five months. This means we’ve had more delays and cancellations from incidents such as points failures, signal failures and track faults. We’re working closely with Network Rail to improve on this unacceptable performance and they’ll be producing a robust recovery plan.”


5

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crew b Andre life in the g workin ing trade. build

ANDRE DYER

How does Crewe Conductor and Deputy Duty Train Crew Manager Andre Dyer prepare for a shift? With a couple of chapters of a ‘King’ novel, an early night and then a ‘wake me up’ brew. It’s a 7.15am start for me this morning and I’m in early to pick up notices, have a chat with fellow train crew members and catch up with the train crew supervisor, before making my way to catch the 7.33am Crewe to Euston train. As a conductor, I undertake revenue duties, such as ticket checks and sales, and I deal with any customer queries or concerns. I get a lot of job satisfaction from getting to know our customers and being able to help them. We’ve got a lot more leisure travellers with us today who are making the most of the half price ticket offer that we’re running. I’m on hand to open and close doors at every stop, welcome newcomers on board and inform them of their destination over the PA. I also keep an eye on the little things, like making sure the doors are clear of luggage and that the wheelchair space is always free to help reduce any delays at stations.

Two hours into the journey and I get off the train at Northampton. I’ve then got a bit of time to wander in to town for breakfast at BHS. My afternoon’s taken up with a journey back to Crewe, then to Birmingham and back. I drop my revenue equipment off at 3.30pm at Crewe and double-check my return duties for tomorrow. I’m up for a 3.56am shift in the morning, so it’ll be caffeine at the ready, no doubt. I go home for a bite to eat, a quick flick of the National Geographic Channel and then to bed. Despite being on my feet all day, I’m not one for sitting still. On my next days off I’ll indulge in my favourite hobby of DIY.

quickfire Trick or treat… Trick Facebook or Twitt er… Facebook Columbo or Ironside Columbo – a crime fighting leg end

Chinese or curry Curry Bitter or lager Bitter Staying in or going out Going out


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top job

smile

reasons to

We’ve got great news from our conductor colleagues – their revenue growth is on the up – and in some areas by more than 40 per cent!

S

teve Hopkinson, Traincrew Operations Manager, West Coast South, says: “Our conductors and their managers are working hard to increase revenue growth in their areas. “As a result of ongoing feedback and plenty of discussion between conductors and managers there’s a real focus on building relationships and better understanding the issues each faces day-to-day. This is helping to deliver an increasingly proactive approach to ticket sales.” Significant growth for Period 1, compared with the same period last year, includes: � 44 per cent at Birmingham New Street � 41 per cent at Coventry � 20.2 per cent at Crewe � 20 per cent at Worcester � 12.5 per cent at Bletchley. (Source: London Midland on-train sales summary Period 1 2011-2012)

“We’ve introduced revenue notice boards at depots to encourage a bit of discussion among colleagues,” says Steve. “We’re also making the most of technology, with conductors now on a group email distribution list so they receive timely customer feedback. A bi-monthly newsletter is another thing that we’ve introduced to keep everyone up-to-date on any matters affecting their work. “I’m really pleased with our progress and I’d like to thank both our conductors and management team for their hard work in making this a success and continuing to increase revenue growth.”

es John holdom-eyl er with traincrew manag on blower conductor sim


100%

7

ticket office audit

audit plaudits Something a bit special has happened. We’ve achieved 100 per cent on an Internal Control Audit at Long Buckby – and it’s a first in our history!

D

elivery Manager David Grayson and Booking Clerk Bob Stevenson ensure that when they’re recording information at Long Buckby, they “dot all the Is and cross all of the Ts”. This diligence is keeping station ‘internal control’ up to date and has taken them from a 58 per cent audit mark (the ‘pass’ mark for stations is 75 per cent) to 100 per cent in two years. “Bob and I’ve worked together to get the paperwork in order for audit,” says David. “It’s a London Midland requirement that we pass the standard set by the Passenger Accounts Manager. It’s tough, but as we’ve just proved the target can be met, and even better, we can achieve 100 per cent!” Mitzi Latham, Customer Service Manager Midlands South, says: “I’m proud of David and Bob. It’s a brilliant achievement and the result of a lot of hard work.” Den Law, Delivery Manager Midlands South, agrees:

“100 per cent is something colleagues aspire to and David and Bob have really set the bar.” The audit looks at recordings of bookings, transactions, non-issues, cash balances, booking office security and fare discrepancies. Combined, audits are then used by ATOC to measure our performance against other TOCs. Like David, other delivery managers are working with booking clerks and platform teams to improve the standard of information recording across stations. There’s an intense focus on this because we haven’t always performed well at internal audits and we want to be better. Our average Express Station Ticket Office audit score is improving year on year though, from 61 per cent in 2008 to 64 per cent in 2009 and 73 per cent last year. So far this year it’s 76.5 per cent.

“These results... are fantastic achievements.”

L-R: DAvid grayson, bob stevenson and dEn law

Neil Langford, Retail Manager – Express, says this is being made possible through more regular delivery manager/booking clerk contact, rebriefings and targeted communications. He explains: “The power of communication is evident here. Our teams have increased the number of 121s between delivery managers and booking clerks. Our teams are working together to reduce paperwork errors and ensure more accurate and up-to-date recording. They also receive a refreshed weekly newsletter highlighting areas for action. “This focus is really paying off, with 95 per cent recorded at Wellington and 93 per cent at Telford Central in March. These results and the most recent at Long Buckby are fantastic achievements.” Commercial Director Alex Hynes adds: “I regularly encourage the teams to do better, but in the case of Long Buckby I literally can’t ask for any more!”


8

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when we’re talking about capacity we use the terms ‘spaces’ because it includes the amount of seats and of standing room.


city

3,276

99

extra spaces for our customers

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Thousands of extra spaces are helping us meet rising customer demand for our services and ease crowding in the West Midlands.

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his summer we worked with the Department for Transport (DfT), to create 3,276 extra spaces for our customers on morning and evening services across the region. Our Commercial Director Alex Hynes explains why: “Because of a number of factors, more and more people are choosing to travel by train, and that’s great news for us. It’s great having a product that people want to use. “However, our increasing success does bring crowding challenges, particularly seen on our busiest diesel train routes serving Snow Hill, Moor Street and Birmingham New Street. We’ve listened to our station teams and conductors about crowding and peak issues, together with passenger count information, to plan some important changes.” What are they? Alex explains: “We’re improving the availability of our Class 350 Desiro fleet, following a successful performance ramp-up of the 350/2 fleet since it entered service. From December, we’re proposing to deploy an additional electric multiple unit (EMU) on Birmingham-Walsall

Alex Hynes, COMME RCIAL DIRECTOR

services, where we currently have diesels running ‘under the wires’. This means making a minor timetable change in the morning peak, so that the service pattern mirrors the off-peak and evening peak pattern, which is the subject of a DfT change consultation that closed on 12 August.” The overall result is that we’ve created nine trains for West Midlands diesel routes. These extra trains, together with timetable adjustments and an agreed contract variation with the DfT, create the extra spaces needed on our main commuter routes. Birmingham Snow Hill Operations Supervisor Kerry Neal says: “It can be frustrating for our customers to have to stand on trains or wait for the next available one after a long day at work. The extra spaces will make for a more comfortable and pleasant journey for our customers.” Alex agrees: “It’s going to make all our lives easier. Conductors, station colleagues and our customer relations team should see fewer complaints. Having happier customers means happier colleagues and more business, which is good for all of us.”

“Having happier customers means happier colleagues and more business, which is good for all of us.”

We’ve… worked with the Department for Transport agreeing a contract variation so that we can unlock more of our capacity It’s… created 3,276 extra spaces for customers on our morning and evening services across the West Midlands When… customers are happy – they come back to us. Which is why we want to tackle overcrowding. If it’s a problem where you are please let us know.


10

screen star

when we oblige... A very retro-looking Ridgmont station has made it to the silver screen!

R

omantic drama One Day, starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess, tells the story of two friends and their relationship over 20 years. It’s based on the number one international bestselling novel of the same name, and some very poignant scenes are set at Ridgmont station. “For authenticity, Franchise Compliance the producers replaced Manager Glen Merryman, the station signage with the who supervised while 1980s style and added film crews worked at the station, says: “The station, a telephone box to which is on our Marston the platform.” Vale Line, was given a

1980s makeover for the scenes, filmed last summer. “For authenticity, the producers replaced the station signage with the 1980s style and added a telephone box to the platform. All ‘modern’ cars were also moved away from the station. “It was interesting to see the filming take place. It probably took about four hours, although I’ve seen the film and Ridgmont is in the final cut for about 30 seconds.” Glen has given the station signs used in the film to the Marston Vale Line Museum at Ridgmont station.

calls, talk to us and you could win highstreet vouchers! Do you have something to say on life at London Midland? Or do you have a burning question for the top team about a hot topic or issue affecting your work? If so, Between the Lines can help. Send your questions/letters to btl@londonmidland.com and we’ll get the answers for you and publish them in future issues of the magazine. More than that – you’ll also be in with a chance of winning our ‘star letter’ prize – a £30 high street voucher.

LIGHTS, CAMERA, AC TION!


pensions

heme is one our pension sc ound when of the best ar ivate many other pr compared with . ns io nal pens and occupatio at e Find out mor don www.mylon om .c nd la mid

more discounts

now you can grab big discounts and 2for1 entry at attractions in Birmingham , Stratford-upon-Avon, Live rpool and London. Find a full list of attractions and download your voucher at mylondonmidland.com

4

perks u There’s a lot more to working at London Midland than just our salaries. Here’s a quick reminder of our colleague benefits…

Bupa employee assistance

0800 269 616 or www.bupa.co.uk/eaponline days a year Get confidential help 24/7 365 and – benefits include counselling ice. adv l lega and l practical, financia

Childcare vouchers tax relief for parents, which can lead to big savings. See www.edenred.co.uk/ products/employee-benefits/ childcare-vouchers/ for more information or contact mybenefits@londonmidland.com

free travel

for you and yo ur immediate fa mily on London Mid land, Southern and Southeastern tr ains including discounts on ot her UK and European Rail operators.

Citroen exclusiv e visit my lo

n for a ran donmidland.c om ge of ex clu from Cit sive offers roen.

feeling w his tle

st op

ambassadorawards � don’t forget

10 per cent off

outdoor.com at www.cotswold -LONMID-W4. AF ote qu when you store or If you’re going to a e, quote on ph the ordering over ‘London on nti me d an de the co oups’. Gr ing Midland – Walk

cycle2work is now closed but if you’d like us to run it again so you can get a bike and safety accessories for cycling to work email mybenefits@ londonmidland.com and we’ll be considering it in 2012.

gym discounts at Beaumonts Health Club in Bletchley, Milton Keynes and Watford. Visit mylondonmidland.com for more information.

For most of these offers you’ll need a voucher, your London Midland ID card and a code where it applies. Individual terms and conditions apply. For more information about your benefits and terms and conditions visit the ‘Working here’ section at mylondonmidland.com or contact our HR team on 0121 654 1141.

what a

25%

It’s nice to be recognised when we go that extra mile for our customers, colleagues or the business, which is why an Ambassador Award nomination – or even a win – feels great. Retail Travel Assistant Mark Freeman, from Tring, won an award for helping out while off duty following a fire on a train near Leighton Buzzard. He offered his services to colleagues at the ticket office and helped customers to get to their destinations following a nasty incident. Head of Service Quality Rob Barber says: “I was nominated by one of our customers for

11

off talk plans and pay as you go for less

phone deals

ge we’ve bagged a ran ge, an Or m fro of offers nt including 25 per ce as y pa d an off talk plans o int Go s. les for go you th wi op any Orange sh past a payslip from the of of pro , hs nt mo ree th proof your address and re. tu na sig of

the help I provided in getting her to see her ill father, even though we had a limited service that weekend. I’d come into work on my day off to support our team and I wasn’t expecting a nomination. The fact that a customer went out of their way to recognise me, along with recognition from my director and a letter from the Ambassador Awards team makes it all worthwhile. It’s a great feeling to know you made a real difference to someone’s day.” To find out more about the award categories and to nominate someone, go to ‘Working here’ on our intranet at mylondonmidland.com

that all of our Ambassador Award winners are being nominated for the RailStaff Awards, taking place at the ICC in Birmingham on Saturday 29 October www.railstaffawards.com


12

start slow and steady and have

work/life

patience

Got a favourite gym?

Send your recommendations to us at btl@londonmidland.com Also, check out our colleague gym offers on page 11, plus we’re working with a national chain to introduce a discount. Watch this space…

We’re talking... exercise!

let’s get

physical!

Simon James

Our Senior Conductor Manager Simon James and Facilities Data Administrator Emma Morgan are reinventing themselves – working towards achieving a healthier state of body and mind! We’ve learned a bit about their motivation and healthy eating tips. This time they’re sharing their exercise thoughts and wisdom…

Simon's top tips

“Thinking about losing weight or gaining a few extra pounds in lean muscle? For me, exercise isn’t all about pounding the treadmill or doing hundreds of crunches. It’s about working out � Lift light weights what you want to achieve and finding the best way to do it. with high repetitions Broadly speaking there are three main routes you can to lose weight choose from – exercise to lose weight, get fit or gain muscle. Running, jogging and cardio training will boost your fitness, � Lift heavy weights stamina and help you to lose weight. Weight training will help with fewer repetitions you gain muscle and lose weight. Have a think about what to gain muscle you want to do, and then plan your routine. I wanted to gain muscle and lose weight, so I chose to do weight training. I could have done it at home, but I go to the gym instead because it has all the equipment I need and it’s a great place to get fitness advice and meet new people.”

Emma's top tips

Wise words... “Don’t expect the results to happen too quickly. Be patient, stay focused and the results will come in time.”

� Choose an exercise you enjoy � Don’t worry about what you wear when you exercise as long as it’s comfy

EMMA MORGAN

“It’s said a lot, but that’s because it’s true – regular exercise is an important part of being healthy. If you exercise, not only will it make you fitter, it will also improve your mental health and general wellbeing. Plus, you can fit it into any lifestyle, no matter how busy you are. Try something simple to start with, such as taking the stairs instead of the lift, walking part of the way to work, walking the kids to school – or get on your bike! If you do an exercise that you enjoy there’s more chance you’ll stick to it. There’s no point in spending hundreds of pounds a year on gym membership if you’re not going to use it, so whether you choose a quick kick about on a Sunday morning or a few lengths in the local pool it all counts as exercise.”

Wise words... “Start slow and steady and have patience, you can achieve your fitness goals.”

“There are lots of different ways to exercise. Running, lifting weights and intense cardio workouts are all great ways to get fit. It doesn’t matter what method you use, but it’s always nice to train with a friend or colleague to keep you motivated and make it more fun.” SIMON


13

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we propose to make changes to ticket office times at

� got a big issue?

...and want to talk about it? Email btl@londonmidland.com

86

offices

14

viewpoint

Head of Station Staffing Projects Richard Brooks tackles one of the big issues we face…

station review Across our industry, the ways in which customers buy their train tickets is changing. More and more often people are choosing to buy their tickets online, over the phone or from vending machines at stations rather than from a ticket office. As a result, we’ve looked in detail at how our ticket offices are being used by hour and by day, finding that half of our offices sell just ten per cent of our tickets. It’s no longer commercially viable to have people working in areas or at times that aren’t productive. As a result, we propose to make changes to ticket office times at 86 of our 90 offices. We launched a public consultation on the proposals with colleagues, passengers and stakeholders in March. Since then, despite the uncertainty that change of this nature brings, our people have continued to provide a great service to

our customers and we’re really grateful for their dedication. We’re working as quickly as we can to bring the proposals to a conclusion, and doing all we can to minimise the impact on our colleagues. We’ve also been using our special ‘talkback’ channel, a phone service where colleagues call a number and listen to an interview with me talking about the review. Thank you for listening and sharing your questions and comments. We want to get our business into better shape for the future, to better serve our customers and provide value for money for taxpayers and customers. So, as part of the review of Schedule 17, which is what dictates ticket office opening hours, we’ve also reviewed staffing at stations in general. At the same time, we’re also proposing to invest in station facilities. We want to install 29 new ticket vending machines across the network and we are upgrading our help points to improve customer service. At the time Between the Lines went to press, we were waiting for a final

Opening hours � Opening

hours haven’t changed in the past 20 years, although customerbuying habits have. � Technological

changes mean customers now have lots of different ways to buy their tickets including online and from ticket machines.

We’ve had lots of feedback about the station review, and one of our customer service assistants tells Between the Lines: “I get that we have to adapt to changing customer behaviour. But, change can be difficult and upsetting for people. “Not so long ago I sold just ten tickets in four hours, which was a complete waste of time, and it’s this sort of thing that’s happening everywhere. So, I can’t knock London Midland for proposing changes to make us more efficient. But, people on the front line need more information from our leaders about what’s happening and what it means for us. If we don’t get enough reliable information it gets diluted or misinterpreted and rumours start. This just causes bad feeling, mistrust and uncertainty. “I think a colleague forum would be a good way for us to have more of a two-way relationship with leaders. We get to discuss things, share ideas and speak openly about work issues. Our leaders gain more insight into what we know and how we feel and respond to it.” Thanks for your feedback. We’ll take your suggestion and look at how we might make it happen. In the meantime, there are lots of ways to have your say. Contact Between the Lines, email stations.questions, dial into talkback, go to a directors face2face or have a conversation with your line manager. decision from the Department for Transport on whether the proposed changes can be implemented. The decision will be shared with everyone once we have it. Richard Brooks, Head of Station Staffing Projects, 102 New Street


Paul Glendinning

172s

take

15

are equipped with disk brakes

Mitchell Collier

Driver Birmingham Snow Hill

Customer Relations Advisor 102 New Street, Birmingham

Two colleagues, ten questions – let’s see how their answers compare... I drive our passenger trains on Snow Hill lines including Great Malvern, Worcester, Leamington and Stratford.

Safety is always top priority. In autumn and winter environmental changes mean taking extra care.

WHAT DO YOU DO?

I deal with customer complaints and enquiries – on anything from timetable changes and incorrect ticket charges to service delays and overcrowding.

Winter’s approaching, how does this affect your role?

Complaints rise as the weather causes service delays or cancellations. So, our workload increases. Winter’s definitely our busiest period.

Leaf fall increases the risk of wheels slipping, which is a major safety risk when you’re approaching stations or signals. To help avoid it I’ll brake earlier and lighter than usual. Fog can also cause problems, but newer LED signal lights are easier to see in bad weather.

What are the main challenges?

Handling the increase in workload. For example, last winter the highest number of complaints we received was 8,114, compared with 4,500 the previous year – we had almost double the work because of the long and very cold winter.

Heavy snow and freezing temperatures froze some train parts – that was the worst thing. If train parts freeze it can delay journeys.

What was it like for you last winter?

Very busy, and at times it was hectic. The early start to winter caught us out. We’re used to seeing things change in January, last year it happened in November.

To be well prepared before every shift and make additional brake tests before and during each journey.

What did you learn?

To expect the unexpected.

I’ll do the same, but I’ll be driving the 172 soon and it’s a disk brake train. It will take time to get used to driving it in winter weather, but ‘leaf fall’ training will help with that. Driving along the route without any problems. There’s fog, only six-foot visibility in front of the cab and signal problems. In this job it’s all about safety.

That I’m good humoured and reliable (I hope!).

Will you do anything differently this time? One day I’m…

Yes, we’ll prepare for poor weather earlier in the season. If it happens again we’ll have our usual team and the support of temporary colleagues if needed.

Dealing with a ticket refund.

And the next I’m… WHAT MATTERS TO ME...

My colleagues say...

Investigating a maintenance issue at one of our stations. Is that I try and restore faith in London Midland if a customer has had a negative experience with us. That I’m way too soft when I’m dealing with customers… but I think I’m just accommodating. They’re the reason we’re here after all!


16

W

game on!

ell done to everyone who took part in the Railsport Games 2011 in Blackpool this summer. Our very own Rebecca Freeman, Train Crew Management Change Manager based at 102 New Street, won the women’s 10k Road Race. Senior Conductor Maddie Davidson, from Crewe, won the Ladies 5k Road Race and Driver Mike Hatton, also from Crewe, won the over 40s prize in the men’s 10k race. In football, five teams took part in the competition. Our ‘New Street Young Guns’ were runners up in the open five-a-side football competition, and team ‘London Midland Crewe’ got through to day two of the over 35s five-a-side tournament before being ‘robbed’ by RPMI in the semi-finals.

Our ‘New Street

Young Guns’

OLD BOYS FC

club

‘London Midland Crewe’

walk this way W

w his tle

st op

hy not see if your boots were made for walking and join the Birmingham New Street Walking Club. “We meet around once a month and travel to all sorts of interesting places,” says walker Norah Graham. “These range from Austria and Bratislava to The Lakes and Lapworth. The walks vary in length, some of them run over two days and some smaller ones are around eight to ten miles.” Norah, a Revenue Protection Inspector based at New Street, adds: “Our walks take place during the week and where possible we use trains to take us to our destination and back again. It’s a tradition of ours to end with a well-deserved pint!”

� congratulations!

If you’d like to join, check out

www.newstwalkclub.com to find out more about becoming a member and details of walks that are coming up.

to Revenue Protection Inspector David Ashby from Milton Keynes who won the iPad2 competition (Issue 1).

10k

Rebecca Freeman won the women’s

Tea for T w at The R o itz

We’ve a delightful prize up for grabs in this edition of Between the Lines. We’re taking part in National Customer Service Week this year from 3-9 October and will be championing fantastic service from across our business, and not just for our external customers! Tea at The Ritz is not only an institution, the venue is also famed for its amazing service. So, we’re offering one lucky reader the chance to win a Champagne Afternoon Tea for Two at The Ritz London. Enjoy traditional afternoon tea with finely cut sandwiches, freshly baked scones, jam and clotted cream and delicious pastries – with a glass of champagne! For your chance to win, simply answer the following question:

Q: When are we taking part in National Customer Service Week? Email your answer, with your name, job title, location and contact details to btl@londonmidland.com or text your answer and details to 07530 973042.

@

The closing date for entries is Friday 21 October. The winner will be selected at random. Please note that there is only one prize.

BtL magazine  

Between the Lines, Magazine, London