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It’s not the size of the line, I’ve mostly got to grips with that now. It’s not the size of the depot because I roughly know where I’m going and I have a large group of people to follow if I don’t. And if I get lost I know where hot tea is to be had while I wait for somebody to find me. It’s not even that the trains are huge, I’m not proud and I can scramble on and off ok. These things are ok, but seriously, could I have some sort of sabbatical and start again in a few months?

Last week was lovely wasn’t it? Sunny, bit of rain but generally ok. This week it’s snow, hail, freezing rain and general coldness. Of course, this is also the week where I’m not in a building or a train but trudging around a yard having bits of train pointed out to me. It’s cold. It’s miserable. It’s really cold and also it’s cold.

Usually I enjoy stock. And truth be told I’m enjoying learning this stock. Although at times I have concerns. Like when on the first day they blitzed through almost everything that is a train which left me wondering what the hell else they were going to teach us if that was day one. But it turned out to be just a blitz and today they slowed down for some more in-depth teaching and then we went to a train and worked as a group to solve defects. It’s quite a nice way of learning actually. The instructors put on a defect and then ask us to spot symptoms and then work through possible solutions. Of course, we don’t know solutions yet so our answers are a bit hit and miss at times. Which is where the group comes in because everyone chips in whatever thoughts they have and if anyone seems not to understand we share knowledge. And the trainers are happy to stop everything to go over things or chat about tangentially related things until everyone properly understands what’s going on. As I say, it’s a really good way to learn.

My two main problems are that it’s cold and that we’re not in Kansas anymore. I used to know my stock thoroughly and I get tripped up on the little differences. And as my old stock seems to have been much more complex I’m often tripped up by looking for complexity where none exists. For example, we have equipment which needs to know the speed of the train for various reasons. This was always a slight issue for me as it involved nearly every bit of kit on the train and was complicated to diagnose a cause of failure and how to fix it. The symptoms involve lots of specific things failing, blasts of air going off, alarms sounding, possibly lights going out, brakes coming on…you name it, the train could do it depending on what was causing the problem. So tonight I got my books out and settled down for a bit of studying as I suspected we’ll be dealing with it tomorrow. And on looking at the relevant page I discovered that the symptoms are that a light comes on to tell you the speed sensing equipment is not working and that there will be one alarm. And that it’s fixed by one action.

Whilst this is lovely it does rather leave me scratching my head. I turn the page and look for more problems. But there are none. It’s literally that. It’s one of those situations where I expect much, much more and feel that I’m left hanging when it doesn’t appear. I think I’d almost feel more comfortable if this were more difficult. At times if something is too easy I get a little concerned because of the possibility of it being incredibly hard and I’ve just missed the point entirely. And the trainers have said a few times that we are learning the hardest stock on the underground. Of course, I take this with a large pinch of salt as every stock trainer I’ve ever met has been of the opinion that their particular stock is the hardest to learn. But when my new colleagues from other lines are gasping at how tricky things are I do sometimes wonder if I’ve completely overlooked something major and that I’m idly paddling in a shark-infested ocean.