Should reducing ‘pointless announcements’ on trains be a top government priority?

Train passengers have been promised quieter journeys as the government has announced plans to reduce repetitive and unnecessary on-board announcements.
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Ministers say the changes mean people travelling on the railways will no longer be bombarded with ‘tannoy spam’ that distracts from important safety-critical messaging.

Today (Friday January 21), Transport Secretary Grant Shapps called for a ‘bonfire of the banalities’ to bring down the number of announcements passengers are ‘forced to sit through and make their journey that little bit more peaceful’.

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The Department for Transport says this will still mean rail users continue to receive the important information they need about their journey.

As a regular rail commuter before the pandemic hit, I can honestly say the issue of too many tannoy announcements never featured very highly on my list of problems with Sussex’s trains.

The British Transport Police’s safety slogan ‘see it, say it, sorted’ may be repeated a lot, but that’s probably partly why it’s so effective.

Meanwhile, I find a member of train crew doing the announcements with a sense of humour can often transform a humdrum journey into a pleasurable one.

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I wouldn’t go as far as labelling this work a waste of time, but I’d rather the government prioritise plans to make journeys more reliable, cheaper and comfortable and I reckon many other passengers would agree with me.

The Government wants to reduce unncessary and repetitive announcements on board trainsThe Government wants to reduce unncessary and repetitive announcements on board trains
The Government wants to reduce unncessary and repetitive announcements on board trains

Doing something about the ironing board seats on the new Thameslink trains or retiring the ancient three-carriage 313s from service would make far more of a difference in Sussex.

Today the DfT said: “Working closely with the Rail Delivery Group, passenger groups including Transport Focus, and train operators, the Department for Transport (DfT) will identify how the vast number of announcements can be cut or reduced while maintaining vital obligations to ensure train travel remains accessible for all. Messages that play a safety critical role, or that ensure the railways are accessible for all, will remain.

“The review will take place over the course of this year, with redundant messages identified and starting to be removed in the coming months.

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“Banal announcements set to be culled include self-evident instructions, such as having your ticket ready when leaving the station and contradictory calls for passengers to keep volume levels low while on-board announcements blare out. There will also be new curbs on the maximum frequency at which remaining announcements will be heard.”

What do you think? Send your thoughts to [email protected]