Tag: southern rail

Sunday Column (519)

Lovely people. This is the 3rd last regular column. And notice the ‘regular’ bit, I might be back 🙂 If you believe it or not, and of course given I am German and organised, I started writing most of the blog posts already. I have always done that, prepared the blog posts and just published them in advance. As far as I can remember there has been one or two occasions where I sat down Sunday night to draft and publish.

It is less the time impact that makes me stopping it. It is the refocus on other things. I am changing my life. The base stays the same, e.g. job, family, house – the stability and foundation remains the same. But I am working on other things that just need more attention.

The week started off awful – if you like – last Saturday with a delayed Southern train from Victoria after the footie. 2.5 hours for a 50 minute journey with an exhausted 9 year old. Just imagine you leave on an 8:41 train, go up to Manchester and back, and it takes you almost as long as that getting home on the final stretch from Victoria. As one tweet suggested it is Network Rail and not Southern Rail – I get it, but my contract is with Southern, and they are the ones responsible for me. My boy was good though and we had lovely company. A retired scientist that told a good story or two, and it is in those moments when you look at life from a different perspective. Or, when the wife texts that Venus is next to the Moon on the sky early mornings when she went to work.

Maybe I am a bit melancholic, sitting on a rather empty commuter train into London, I reflect on how small we are. The climate conference this week showed how much we destroy our planet. The boys are talking about settling on Mars and building the next ISS. We put up the Christmas tree as if we can cut down trees as there was no tomorrow (I know those are sustainable farmed etc. so all good 🙂 ) – the human race must change. We need to change what we eat, how we treat other people and sentiment beings and of course our planet as a whole. At the same time we got our first smart plug, not only out of convenience (to turn the lights on the above tree on and off) but also to realise how much energy you use. A smart meter has been high on the list, let’s see.

What will life look like 50 years from now. The constant change will not be stopped but will rather accelerate. Depending on our life span of 120 years, we might see the colonisation of space or the oceans. Where would you rather be? I know, the planet itself. But will we have the option?

It’s not all doom and gloom. I am more and more convinced Brexit won’t happen and some things stay the same and we might have another 10 years of a good and unchanged life here in Britain. I am hopefully of course and maybe that’s what I want to be and how I should think. I have no ambition to move to be honest and if I had to, I would of course. Wouldn’t I? I must. I must ensure that the next generation, our kids, have the best possible start to make an impact on this planet. For all the reasons above.

Those are my thoughts this week. Maybe triggered a bit by the latest Outlander episode, the cold weather and dark nights.

Have a good week, wherever you are.

Love and Kindness,
Volker

Sunday Column (422)

This week was rather busy. In a good sense. Learning, testing and evaluating. That’s for work and commute. My first full day of commuting and the trains went back to normal on Tuesday. Not sure what normal means anymore. I was late on a couple of days, minutes really, but at least I am now learning which trains I can or cannot use moving forward. Testing the new commute but at least my journey in London is quite predictable as the tube seems more reliable than the bus I used to take over the last 3 years. All change.

It also means I don’t see the kids that much. The youngest is up with me in the morning and we catch up, the oldest I see at night for a chat. It works. It is the life we are living with the decisions we made on commute and where we wanted to settle. A lot of other people in the business are in a similar situation. Yet, I still cannot accept the fact that Southern makes me look like I am late. It is the train 🙁 It isn’t me, I have no control over it. Anyway.

I was asked this week what my management style is. I believe, in a new job, this is a fair question. I asked my manager. It is very interesting to compare types of companies and different leadership styles and motivations. I so love to be back on the tech side, where people just get on with their work, everyone working towards the greater goal, no time for BS. And I love managing people, in a coaching and consultative style. I want them to do well, to develop and to succeed. I am of the opinion that if people in your team are doing well, you will do well yourself. That doesn’t mean I am not controlling, supervising or checking up. But I wouldn’t want to be micromanaging; why would anyone else wanted to be micromanaged? We are all intelligent and adults, no? Most anyway. It will take some time for the team to figure things out, and for myself, to find the best way of working together and making sure things get done. It is something called ‘trust’, and that builds over time. I always managed to build strong trusting relationships with my managers and my direct reports and teams. But for the time being, we made some organisational decisions this week. Full steam ahead, I am very excited.

Looking at the news this week there were two topics. One was around Brexit. The trigger of article 50 now needs to get parliament approval. I don’t think that changes much but it shows how the Supreme Court is not afraid to step up against the government. This in itself is a good sign as it shows a strong democracy. I personally think this won’t change things, but it might cause further delays. Hopefully I get my citizenship from the Home Office soon. Then my passport. Fingers crossed.

The other news are, and my Facebook feed is full of it, that Trump does want to build this wall to Mexico. The costs are horrendous, just to maintain it they estimate 2bn USD per annum. How many families could you feed with that? We had a wall in Germany for 40 years, and it won’t last and neither should it. You cannot separate people. People are always stronger than barricades, fear and walls for that matter. I am astonished. What is next? Segregation in the USA all over again? Please don’t do that to this world. We must stand together, worldwide, for the USA not to turn into a 4th Reich. We cannot let history repeats itself and must be cautious of populist movements across the globe. I am just a little person in the world, and I know that there are smarter, more influential people seeing this already. Yet, we should not forget and everyone can do a little towards peace, community and humanity.

This video from New York sends me the chills. #alwaysnewyork

Another advantage of my new routine is that I run and exercise a lot in the morning again. I feel fitter, watch what I eat (despite the free snacks in the office) and make sure I walk a lot. It seems to work, 3 weeks into the new year, and my weight is almost where I want it, but overall I just feel better and stronger. I also revisit some of the Anthony Robbins personal development ‘tapes’ and experiment with goal setting and focus exercises. My commute allows for a lot of studying and reading again, so watch this space moving forward. Although, I need to factor more time in to reflect and take it all in. One cannot learn and study all the time without reflecting and putting it into action.

A full packed week and weekend and looking forward it won’t change for a while. I love it. And this weekend… I got my battery in my phone replaced (FOC due to a manufacturing fault); the oldest had a sleep over and the youngest was properly spoiled by my wife and I 🙂 Happy days.

Have a great week ahead and don’t forget to share this blog if you enjoy reading it. Thanks.

Best,
Volker

@southernrailuk #railchallenge 2015

Ok, as most of you know I commute from Hassocks in West Sussex to London Victoria. I try to do that 3-4 times a week and work 1-2 days from home (or try to work from home as much as possible to avoid the commute).

If on average I have 3 journeys a week, this means 6 journeys, of which the morning journey is on average (!) delayed by 10 minutes. The evening one is between 5 and 15 minutes delayed. So on average I have a 20 minute delay a day, accounting for approximately 60 minutes a week, 1 hour.

In 2015, given we have 365 days, taken off weekends (104), holidays and working from home days, leaving me with approximately 200 days of commute. Given I am travelling, there are probably only about 150 journeys a year. Not too bad. However, if I am delayed 20 minutes on those (150 return journeys, 20 minutes for each return journey), I look at 3,000 minutes delays.

3000 minutes = 50 hours = 2.08 full days or one working week.

On Twitter, I just asked @Southerrailuk for a #railchallenge, asking whether they reimburse me my annual travel card, currently just over £3,700 (GBP) (!!) if I am delayed on average 20 minutes on 400 journeys (200 return journeys).

Maybe I am missing something in the Maths, yet either way, I am happy to agree on either a minute number on average or an average time of delay for each leg or for a return journey. Happy to discuss staggering it, e.g. bringing in tiers of reimbursement based on average 5, 10, 20 minutes delay?

Either way, given cancellations and recent delays, I cannot loose. It is a safe bet!!!

Now the question is, will @Southerrailuk be up for it or not?

Watch this space as I report about the #railchallenge 2015!

Yours,
Volker