As we near the planned restart of tram operations on the Altrincham line the pressure is building in the delivery team. The guys replacing the overhead line equipment on the old British Rail infrastructure are pulling out all the stops trying to get everything finished on time, whilst in the city centre what feels like hundreds of orange clad bodies are feverishly trying to get the tracks and road surfaces in position ready for the trams to run.
To add to the stress, it is Manchester Pride this weekend and there are expected to be thousands of extra people in the city making moving materials and guys around even more torturous than usual.
There is a real will to get the work complete and it will not be for a lack of trying if it is not quite ready. I am sure trams will be running again on Tues 1st September.
Update 2nd Sept
Well I wasn’t quite right, but St Peters Station was back up and running as planned. Unfortunaley there have been a few problems down at the Altrincham end.
The below is a response I sent to an email I recieved from a friend of mine. He pointed out an article from The Times which he thought I may find interesting, follow the link to read it.
Let me introduce Silly Doorsqueak Theory
This is a sign of the malaise that has crept into the industry over the last 18 months to a year. The industry has worked very hard to improve both the service it offers and the image it portrays over the last five years or so. However, just as soon as the industry starts to spread a good message, HS1, St Pancras, Punctuality figures in the 90% (even if they are measured in an operator friendly manner) the industry seems to have seen the recession as a reason for taking its foot of the gas and letting things slip very quickly.
The problem is the industry is not putting the customer first. One sign of this is the appearance of bloody ticket barriers everywhere. How am I supposed to carry my suitcase, my computer bag and my coffee through the ticket barrier whilst also putting a ticket in the stupid machine. The ticket barrier is there purely to help the train operator, it has nothing to do with helping the customer enjoy their journey.
The same goes for the attitude of selling tickets on trains, the very fact that you can run into the station and jump on a train then buy a ticket is what makes it attractive to some people. But to be treated like a criminal for not buying a ticket when the bus is late and only one ticket window is open and five people are in the queue is disgusting (the reason one is at the station is to travel not to buy a ticket).
Most people travel by train because they have no alternative, it is not through choice. The more the railway puts barriers in the way (quite literally) the less inclined people will be to use them.
Yes barriers may reduce vandalism and protect revenue but how much is this a problem on the 06.40 Derby to Crewe?
I hear commentators saying that ‘you wouldn’t expect to turn up at the airport and just get on a plane’ well, I am sorry but that is because they are not customer focused either. Personally I do not see another industries failing as a excuse to follow suit.
I could go on:
Broken air con on Voyages and no explanation from staff when asked to increase the temp in the carriage.
No displays or announcements at Sheffield because ‘the power has gone off’, and staff hiding out of the way instead of manning every passenger movement point to help them get to the correct train, I’m just glad I knew which platform I needed.
No access across Derby Station footbridge when the ticket barriers come into use.
Proposal to close access to the tram from the city at Sheffield when the ticket barriers come in to use.
My message, look at the situation from the perspective of the customer and address the things that annoy them first.
Well that is a little rant from me.
Hope you are both well.
I have decided to take a punt and make a bit more out of my understanding of Lean.
It is time I take advantage of one of the things which makes me different from most other people, my ability to see waste!
I have been mulling this over for some time and feel that I need to make my future my own and a key part of that for me is learning more about Lean, learning more of the techniques, but fundamentally taking some of the principles that I take for granted and applying them to other businesses and organisations.
My ‘Lean’ epiphany occurred about three years ago whilst being introduced to the theory of constraints and reading The Goal, by Eliyahu Goldratt. However looking back I was already showing signs of what I now term Lean. Developing standard work, processing paper work as it arrived, trying to deliver what the customer wanted not just what my company wanted to produce.
From my current vantage point I can see that my first exposure to Lean was whilst working at McDonalds from 1997 -1999 as a student. Standard work, continuous improvement, continuous assessment, pull and ‘clean as you go’ are all very easy to see now, but at the time it was just how they did it.
I feel very strongly that this gave me an unconscious understanding of how work can be done and many of my colleagues have heard me utter the phrase, ‘at McDonalds they do it like this….’.
I am not an expert at applying the tools that have developed to allow the concept of Lean to be implemented. However I am very confident that I have a good grasp of Lean, the core values and the state of mind needed to help others understand it too.
The road to understanding the fundamentals of Lean is long and can be hard work, but when the moment comes and one gets it, it is quite amazing, the world changes in quite a significant way. (My journey took place over a total of 8-9 years if include my experience at McDonalds.)
This may all sound a bit over the top, but this is how it feels to me, and others that I have spoken to that have gone through the same learning experience.