Train of Thought #5: Train Announcements

The railway network in Britain has long been criticised regarding the quality of its station announcements.  Usually the criticism includes the word “unintelligible” at some point.

Strangely, I have no beef regarding the intelligibility of train announcements.  Through a bizarre glitch of genetic makeup––or perhaps just long experience––I am usually able to interpret the muffled and crackly loudspeaker voices and reassemble the broken static to form a vaguely coherent message, such as “The 9.45 from Paddington is delayed” or “Will the owner of the suspicious package on concourse 4 please report to the customer information desk.”

However, the announcements, to which I do take exception, are the recent barrage of faux-friendly broadcasts from the train guard.  These fall into two distinct categories: frustrated DJ and embarrassed employee.

The frustrated DJ clearly enjoy talking for the sake of it; the frustrated DJ cannot stop at simply announcing the list of station halts along the train route, but has to continue on with some jokey interjection about the weather conditions in Northampton or the traffic congestion in Nuneaton.

Worse still is the embarrassed employee.  Clearly operating under––frankly misguided––instructions issued by a faceless train-line bureaucrat recently returned from a customer-care workshop, the embarrassed employee is forced to read out cheery and motivational messages to an audience, which patently has no interest in whether “Little Charlie in carriage 6 is enjoying a happy birthday”, or cares whether “Everyone has a good day at work”.

Just “Shut up!”.  I want to stand up in my seat and shout out to the entire train carriage, “Shut up!  Shut up!  Just shut up!”

I don’t, of course.  I listen to the phoney sincerity in mute ill-humour until it finally stops, thinking back wistfully to the days when train passengers were allowed to sit in peace and silently hate one another.

© Simon Turner-Tree


Simon Turner-Tree just wants to be left in peace.


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