This train is formed of… six carriages. We would like to remind passengers that a no-smoking policy is in force on this train. Please ensure that you have taken all your belongings with you when you exit the train.
Transport Minister Norman Baker has spoken against frequent announcements on train journeys. Well-known transport commentator Christian Wolmar also finds them intolerable. I can sympathise – in my commuting days, I got quite fed up with the robotic voice repeating the same announcements at every single one of the many station stops on my daily route.
Clearly, announcements play an important role for those with impaired vision – but need there be quite so many of them? In the comments on the BBC report of the story, contributors point out that many are redundant – like ‘this is a no-smoking train’, when smoking is banned on all trains these days. Or ‘thank you for choosing to travel with [this train company]’, when there’s only one operator in the district.
FixMyTransport users get exercised about train announcements, too – not to mention on buses, the Tube and on station platforms. Some are for them; many are against. Here’s a small selection.
On Virgin’s Glasgow to London line: “Honest, I won’t sue the train company if it neglects to tell me how to blow my nose.”
On the Bakerloo line: “At 11 pm, do we really need to be told to ‘alight here for London Zoo’?”
On the Jubilee line: “Loud, irritating, patronising, tedious, whinging, stupid, pointless, endlessly repeated announcements”.
We have several complaints about Scotrail’s announcements, including this one: “When this is your life 5 days a week, 49 weeks a year it makes for an unpleasant, stressful and depressing commute”.
And the other side of the issue:
On London Midland’s Birmingham to Lichfield route: “The problem mainly exists at night when it is hard to see station signs due to the bright lighting on the train”.
On Tramlink 3 in Croydon: “I am partially sighted, and this resulted in my boarding the wrong tram yesterday and wasting time going to Blackhorse Road.”
Given that routine announcements may be a necessity for some and an annoyance to others, I’d like to suggest an opt-in method to hear them, like plug-in aeroplane headphones. No need to thank me, train operators of Britain – my real reward will come when we can all travel in peace.
Image: Kitty DuKane (CC)