DOO / DCO – Understanding the terminology behind the issues

When you read / hear any media statements from within the rail industry or Government departments, watch for the terminology used. Especially the DOO bit! There is a deep debate going on within the industry about DOO / DCO with very different and equally entrenched positions.

To be able to understand what is behind these issues, it is important to establish the difference between the two terms in question:

DOO = Driver Only Operated, no need for a conductor/on-board host. This is very reliant on efficient and modern station dispatch facilities.

DCO = Driver Controlled Operation. Driver opens & closes doors, but there must be a second crew member on board.

In a previous article we asked ‘How Does a Disabled Person Get On /Off a DOO Train?’ We are not proposing to repeat that question here. We are merely taking a high-level view of how the system may or may not be expanded. We have no problem with an industry trying to become more efficient.

But there is a world of difference on how different parts of a rail network can operate, depending on the local infrastructure.

For a limited stop Gatwick Express operating between three full length stations which are manned 24/7 with lots of people around, then DOO might be a workable option. It doesn’t easily transfer to a stopping service between Ore and Brighton at unmanned stations where some platforms are shorter than the trains. CCTV is reactive, not proactive.

Running a purpose-built see-through train between Bedford and London on a purpose-built network might work with DOO. That doesn’t transfer to a partitioned train that splits en-route and reverses in/out of stations, so that ‘rear’ becomes ‘front’ and vice versa. Not to mention on-board information systems that often say ‘Please Listen To Announcements’ or visually gives the wrong destination pre-split.

Does this affect everyone? YES. There is a saying ‘It only takes one second for a person to become disabled’ be that sensory, physical or other, whether by nature, accident, or force.  We are not advocating any one taking a side in this dispute. But the outcome affects everyone.

On a local level:

The Ore > Victoria & Brighton ELECTRIC services are the ones being targeted by operator Southern for DOO. The Brighton > Ashford service (diesel) services is not currently within the plans.

The SouthEastern services to / from London Charing Cross & Cannon Street are a separate franchise and there is no franchise commitment to extend DOO to these services under the existing contract.

SHRIMP, June 2016.