For the government to consider a new legislation to limit, reduce or curtail the sheer number of pointlessly intrusive automated [public address system] announcements at major railway stations (often done on the spurious pretexts of health and safety and security).

Why is this idea important?

There really is no need for quite so many of these irritating announcements and messages that emanate from loudspeakers placed all over station premises, often at deafening volumes of more than 100 decibels. Every two minutes or so is way too excessive. Many stations have now – on the recommendations of Network Rail or the Train Operating Companies themselves – gone for broke by implementing these measures that are nothing more than simply a noise pollution menace, a cynical ploy, carried out at great expense, to do away with human voices making any announcements at all (save for unforeseen circumstances when they override the automated system) and instead preferring to create even more of a overzealously-policed 'big brother' environment within the confines of an enclosed public space.

Sure, the powers that be will say that in this age of security alerts and terrorist threats, this is all very necessary. That indeed may be so, but for them to say it is compulsory that all stations have to adopt this approach is a blatant lie. It is NOT mandatory at all. Not in the slightest. Voluntary, perhaps, but there is NO compulsion whatsoever on the part of the stations to have quite so many of these stupid inane and irritating announcements. All the recommendations state is that they must give clear announcements about the train arrivals and departures – and augmenting these with messages concerning delayed or late running trains. That is all. There is no concrete law or ruling that states they have to make any of the other announcements at all.  And if there is, then it's most likely built on a foundation of flawed reasoning anyway.

The fact remains that all this is nothing but a gross misappropriation of new technology simply to bully, harangue and hector the general public as they go about their business.  Nothing more, nothing less. Surely rail travellers are not so stupid as to *need* to be constantly – and loudly – reminded by a soulless cold-war-esque dictatorial automaton **every minute of every hour** about no smoking, left luggage, permit car parking, feeding pigeons, CCTV, station patrols, ticket checks, being extra careful in wet weather, no cycling, skateboarding or rollerblading on platforms, no loitering, no chewing gum, no eyeing up of the opposite sex, no sitting with one's legs wide open, no dropping of food or sandwich crumbs, etc etc…

Of course, we as a nation only have the increasingly pathetic [US imported] compensation culture to blame for much of this, as station staff will, quite fairly, point to a need for such measures to prevent passengers taking legal action against them each time they are stupid enough to trip up whilst walking through the station or get knocked down by a stray suitcase left in the middle of the platform, or slip on a banana skin, etc… 

But whatever the various reasonings behind all of this, nothing can detract from the simple fact that on any given moment during any hour of any day, a rail user will encounter at least a dozen of these messages from the moment they enter the rail station premises to when they board a train that's ready to depart. And of course, once they are on board whichever train they are travelling on, it all starts up again, with yet more needless rambling computerised messages relayed with relentless and almost fanatical frequency, often accompanying the train pulling out of the platform and then continuing for at least the next two or three minutes, detailing all manner of useless information when you just want it to shut up and give everyone some peace and quiet.  

Truly, there is nothing quite so sacrosanct as a minute's peace to be found at a major railway station – free of all automated announcements and other annoying things that shatter the ambience. And sadly, it's now practically non-existent due to this disturbing urge to fill every available second of silence with an incessant wittering cacophony of meaningless verbal diarrhoea.

It is time people stood up and said ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!  Put a STOP to all of these useless announcements about health and safety – people are fully capable of thinking for themselves without being patronised by a faceless MACHINE everywhere they go. I know some coach stations and airports also employ similar methods but so far it hasn't quite extended to other enclosed spaces such as shopping malls yet. If people don't vote for a curb on this sort of intrusive cyber-hectoring then it is only a matter of time before you will hear the phrases "Please do not loiter in this shopping mall. Loiterers will be moved on or questioned by the security personnel"….. "We would advise you to keep your belongings with you at all times…" ….. "Please ensure all dogs are kept on a lead whilst walking through this shopping centre…."  "Please take your litter with you or dispose of it safely in the bins provided. Anybody caught dropping litter in this shopping centre may be fined or prosecuted…." accompanying your each and every move as you go about your daily routine at your nearest super mall. 

Presently, as an indication of just how extreme things may yet become, some local authorities have devised lamp posts that have CCTV cameras AND loudspeakers attached and can actually 'talk' in real time should there be any people loitering in the vicinity with the intention to cause offence….  If this is the sort of thing you would like to have happen more in Britain, then go ahead, resign yourself to your apathy and simply accept the status quo…..

Tell them all (Network Rail and co) that they can stick their automated announcements! Bring back real people to do the announcements and let's have some humanity restored to our daily lives for goodness sakes!! 

5 Replies to “Vastly reduce the number of pointless automated announcements at major railway stations.”

  1. Absolutely 100% behind this well-reasoned argument. There really is no worse ordeal than having to work at a rail station and listen to the sheer amount of pointless drivel emanating from the tannoys. Even station staff I have openly brought this issue up with as I myself use the trains every day have shrugged their shoulders and admitted that they don’t even bother listening to half of the announcements, which says all you need to know about what passengers likewise would do. Complete waste of money if you ask me. Why don’t Network Rail and the TOCs spend their millions otherwise wasted on all this flim flam actually improving the railways in more constructive ways – such as longer trains and better services? Answer = it’s the government being utterly clueless as per usual. They want to be seen to be in control.

  2. I absolutely agree and can we at the same time end all the pointless obvious announcements on the London Underground. For instance at every stop I am told I am on a Victoria line heading for Brixton. I KNOW – that’s why I chose that line, nor do I need to be reminded of the lines I can change to at Kings Cross, or be told that it is a mainline station. I was on the Marseille metro last week – no announcements! Then can we tackle the ones on London buses that perpetually tell me what bus I am on.

  3. These hostile automated environments are a result of us giving up our humanity to technology. Eventually we won’t be able to stop these robots bossing us around.

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