Train operators urged to curb 'excessive' announcements

 
Passengers on train in 2010 Train operators have to follow best practice guidelines on passenger information

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Transport minister Norman Baker has said the number of computer-generated announcements on trains has got out of hand and needs to be reduced.

Many of the speaker messages were irrelevant to passengers and spoiled their journeys, he told the BBC.

It was unnecessary, for example, to tell people they were on a non-smoking train when it was banned on all trains.

The Association of Train Companies said many passengers found announcements useful but a balance must be struck.

Mr Baker told Radio 4's The World at One that firms should differentiate between essential announcements - such as imminent station arrivals and explaining reasons for delays - and ones which were "simply unnecessary".

"Telling people they are in a quiet carriage when you have chosen to be there, telling people they are in a no-smoking train when all trains are non-smoking, telling you if you see something suspicious to see a police officer when there aren't any on the trains.

"There are so many announcements which get in the way. People do not want every single moment of their journey filled with someone saying something... the sadness is that the unnecessary announcements dilute the value of the important ones."

'Playing incessantly'

Announcements by on-board train staff "were not that bad" and it was automatic ones which were most annoying, the Lib Dem MP suggested.

Start Quote

What I am saying to the train companies is often you are running really good services but you are spoiling the journey for people by the excessive announcements”

End Quote Norman Baker Transport Minister

"Someone has designed a computer program somewhere in a dark cellar and they have put it into the train and plays incessantly and no-one has the power, it seems, to stop the program playing."

Asked what he was going to do about the issue, Mr Baker said trying to regulate what could be said would be "completely over the top" and train operators should simply use their common sense about what was appropriate or not.

"What I am saying to the train companies is often you are running really good services but you are spoiling the journey for people by the excessive announcements."

The Association of Train Companies (ATOC) said that, according to research by consumer watchdog Passenger Focus, the vast majority of people were satisfied with information they get on trains and at stations.

"Passengers want concise and relevant announcements, such as what the next station is so that they get off at the right stop," it said.

"Train companies know there's always a balance to strike - they need to keep passengers informed without irritating them with too many announcements."

Train operators are expected to adhere to industry guidelines on all aspects on passenger information, including on-train announcements, although they are free to implement the guidance in different ways. ATOC said the guidance was under constant review.

 

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  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 106.

    It's the constant health and safety announcements that get on my nerves - repetitive and tedius. That said, the constant noise from ministers also gets on my wick - also repetitive and tedius.

    We know the country really is in a mess when they have to distract us with things they have no intention on doing anything about . . . it will be litter, dog fouling and loud mobile phone rings next.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 105.

    Achtung! Achtung!

    You are on a train! You are on a train!

    It is Monday! It is Monday!

    Thankyou for your co-operation citizen!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 104.

    How typical for the Railway authorities to do something without any consideration for passengers.

    The people who serve on the railways will do anything they can to avoid contact with the disgruntled public and these announcements give them breathing space from us horrid travellers.

    God forbid they would ever want to serve their customers!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 103.

    Interesting. as i got off train at London St Pancras i was in last coach of 10. Walking towards barrier an announcement on opposite train continued throughout my traverse of the platform. I thought at the time "she must be driving the passengers mad" barking on about student tickets....if i noticed from the platform god knows what imprisoned passengers thought....

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 102.

    Another one I find amusing, very common at Doncaster is, as a fast train is about to pass through the station...

    "The next train from platform...
    (whoosh whoosh whoosh whoosh whoosh whoosh whoosh whoosh whoosh whoosh whoosh)

    Great, thanks, helpful!

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 101.

    They are no big deal. Far rather have more announcments than less. Listing the stops to be made yet etc. Foreign visitors may not know they are no smoking etc.

    Trains are far too expensive to use often enough to know the route and chosen stops by heart.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 100.

    If you notice this notice you'll notice that this notice wasn't worth noticing.

    Sssshhhhh... don't tell South West Trains. Meh, tell them if you want, I don't ride their dismal cattle trucks any more.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 99.

    I hate getting on tubes in London at early o'clock just to have my eardrums blasted by a string of unintelligible Caribbean patois. However it's just as bad when the announcements come on and some loud mouth idiot wide boy/girl is talking so loudly nobody can hear the next station etc. I might add this second point is particularly focused on Essex and the c2c.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 98.

    A service I paid a tonne of money for being late and overcrowded annoys me more, if I'm honest.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 97.

    Who cares/. I mean , who the hell gives a damm?
    No one can afford a train ticket anyway unless they are on a ministers salary, so I hardly think the announcements is the main cause for concern on the railways.
    our government has really lost the plot.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 96.

    "This is a colleague announcement. Can Darren go to the checkouts, please?"

    "This call may be recorded for training purposes"

    "On FM, On Long Wave, On Digital and On Line, you're listening to BBC Radio Four"

    "Hello. Did you know you could claim up to four thousand pounds?"

    "Lift going up" "Doors opening" "Doors closing" "Lift going down".

    "This vehicle is reversing"

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 95.

    I'm sure there's more important matters regarding our railways (reliability, quality of service, fares?), but do love some of the pointless announcements/signs.

    An automated voice claiming to be sorry for a delay, being told platforms are wet in wet weather (duh!), thank you for 'choosing' to travel with (only company that runs to your local station), read safety notices (does anyone do this?!)

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 94.

    On the Underground a few weeks back I heard the staff on one platform make an announcement to the staff on the other platform to tell them to shut up as he had an important announcement to make!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 93.

    Woah there! One thing at a time Norm. Maybe you should start with the big things like the consistently delayed, poor quality service before worrying about excessive announcements...Just a thought.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 92.

    Couldn't care less about announcements. Prices are criminal! I'm going to Birmingham from Cambridge in 3rd May. A single via London is £72 with a young persons rail card whereas a single via Leicester is less than £20. A return via London is £142. I would drive but the hotel doesn't have a car park. I don't know what time I can get the train so I can't book in advance

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 91.

    I believe it gives a more train like feeling once you hear it.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 90.

    Why do they call them "station stops". Why does the guard tell you that he/she is "towards the middle of this 8 car train" when they patently are not. There's nothing more intrusive than an announcement that is simply ridiculous or obviously untrue.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 89.

    'The next train is the ConDem Special. Mainly calling at stations in the South East, it is prone to reversals, derailments and going round in circles. The passengers are liable to get tired and emotional, and may bail out between stops. This train has a buffet car, serving horseburgers and Bollinger. The front 7 carriages are for bankers only. You must be over £1 million to ride this train.'

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 88.

    My favourite announcement one morning at 06:30 waiting for the 06:32 came across as a train (the wrong one) thundered through the station at 50mph not this train, not this train... Only improved upon by the announcement ........ rail would like to apologise for the delay this has been caused by a train on the track.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 87.

    We have just passed a tree, a tree, a tree, a tree, a bush, a tree, a tree, a field, a tree, a tree, a tree, a burnt out car, a tree, a tree, a naked woman, a tree, a tree.

 

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