Posted 14th March 2013 | 8 Comments

Minister calls for quieter trains

Image of Class 395 at St Pancras

Mr Baker said a jourmey from Kent on HS1 had been 'wonderful, except for the barrage of announcements'.

A RAIL MINISTER has urged train companies to turn down the volume, after accusing them of talking too much. Minister Norman Baker said many announcements on trains were unnecessary.

“These announcements are becoming more and more verbose and add nothing to the journey at all,” he said.

“We don’t need to be told we are in a quiet carriage, that is why we went there in the first place. I don’t know why people are told to read the safety cards, I have never seen a passenger read one.

“Passengers are told they are on a non-smoking train, which seems pointless as all trains in Britain are non-smoking.”

He said that announcements made by staff were 'not that bad', and reserved his main criticism for automatic messages.

Mr Baker named Southeastern as one of the worst culprits, after describing a journey he had made on HS1 from Kent to St Pancras as 'wonderful', except for the 'barrage of announcements'.

He also pointed out that excessive announcements can mean that passengers tend to ignore them all, and might miss really important information when it comes along.

He told the BBC: "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."

Operators moved to defend their use of loudspeakers. A spokesman for ATOC responded: "Passengers want concise and relevant announcements, such as what the next station is so that they get off at the right stop. A significant majority tell Passenger Focus that they’re satisfied with the information they get on trains and at stations.

“Train companies know there’s always a balance to strike – they need to keep passengers informed without irritating them with too many announcements.”

Passenger Focus agreed. Director David Sidebottom said: "On-board announcements are important to many passengers to ensure, for instance, that they are aboard the correct train, have a valid ticket, or know when to prepare to alight. This repetitive information may be annoying to some passengers, but it is nevertheless vital for others."

Reader Comments:

Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.

  • Tim Bowen, Hastings, East Sussex

    Amongst the many irritating messages on south-eastern, perhaps the most annoying is 'In the interests of your safety and security, CCTV is installed on this service'. This is repeated on departure from every station. And why are we constantly told to take our 'personal belongings' with us. All belongings are personal; that's what the word means.

  • Lee, Manchester

    I would question just how useful these announcements really are. I regulalry catch First Transpennines Manchester to Edinburgh and Windermere train. Following the two automated announcements, followed by the conductors identical announcement and the station stops being listed on the digital signage in the train all preceeded by the station announcements plus destinations illuminated on the front and sides of the train, someone will inevitably ask if this is the Edinburgh train. All the announcements and information in the world wont compensate for the ability of the individual to take notice of any of it.

  • Jim Campbell, Birmingham

    On many London Midland trains you will get the automated announcement of where the train is going, followed immediately by the guard/manager telling you the same information; even at times cutting in part way through the automated one.
    The one announcment that might be useful we never get. As the train approaches New STreet how about telling us which side we will be alighting from. It will save all those who stand up early and get to the doors in teh hope of getting off first having to quickly jump across top the other side when they realise they guessed wrongly.

  • Jamie, Sheffield / Farnborough

    "Please remember to take all of your luggage with you when you leave the train".
    You don't say? And here was me hoping I could offload some of my rubbish onto the train company.

    "Thank you for choosing to travel with X company today".
    Oh really? You mean there are other train companies that I could have chosen to get to my destination, who knew?

  • Simon, Ashford, Kent

    Southeastern's latest 'order' on HS1 appears to be that the On Board Managers must explain "For the benefit of new travellers that there are toilets in the first and last car of each six car unit".

    There was one OBM who on approaching St Pancras tried to list nearly every terminus served by services out of St Pancras, that was a fun five minutes.

    Less announcements and less folding bikes please Southeastern!

  • Melvyn Windebank, Canvey Island, Essex

    The announcement I find totally unneeded Is on Southern Trains when they announce " you are travelling in coach 5 of 8 etc."!

    I do like their use of hunting horns to announce trains it's a shame they don't have a station at Tally Ho Corner!

  • Tim Price, Bestwood Village

    I agree with the Minister, but the big problem is the noise made by diesel trains to those whose day to day environment borders the railway. It's not pleasant trying to work or hold a conversation next door to a busy station full of chattering Sprinters!
    In short, can we have more electrification please to replace these noisy diesels?

  • Gregory Watson, London

    The Minister is right - there are far too many irrelevant messages that are made on trains. ATOC will stand behind this not because they agree its right but because of those daft 'ealth and safety rules. We don't need a running countdown of stations that the train may be visiting. Yes - give an announcement as a station is approached, but just cut it down. We survived 150 years of nominal announcements.