In Brief

‘See it. Say it. Sorted’: is it the end of the line for train announcements?

The transport secretary has pledged a ‘bonfire of the banalities’ on England’s railways

“Finally”, the government has come up with a policy we can all get behind, said Dominic Lawson in the Daily Mail: silencing the “repetitive, pointless and disruptive announcements on trains”.

Last week, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps pledged a “bonfire of the banalities” on England’s railways. Most of the “noisy announcements” that irk regular passengers will be scrapped altogether, he said; those that remain will be reduced in volume.

Not a moment too soon, said Rod Liddle in The Sunday Times. For too long, the ears of passengers have been deluged with “fatuous” rubbish such as the “fabulously irritating” slogan “See it. Say it. Sorted” – enjoining you to tell a “train manager” if you happen upon a terrorist in your carriage – along with the endless bossy reminders to buy a ticket, take all your belongings with you when you “detrain”, and so on.

The number of these announcements has got out of hand, said Simon Calder in The Independent: I recently counted 34 during a one-hour journey. But some do serve a purpose: many are “locators” for people who have “nodded off” or are visually impaired. Besides, it’s not clear if the government has the power to control announcements on trains run by private companies.

So why are ministers even trying, asked Sean O’Grady in the same paper. Could it be that the Tories, after 12 years in office, are out of ideas? It brings to mind the Major years, when a desperate search for ways to “excite the voter” led to ever more eccentric policy announcements – such as the “cones hotline” set up in 1992 to let people complain about unmanned roadworks.

Rail announcements per se don’t bother me, said Christopher Howse in The Daily Telegraph; some, like “Mind the gap”, delivered in “proper English”, have rightly won a place in passengers’ hearts. No, what’s infuriating is the terrible English they’re so often delivered in. “See it. Say it. Sorted” sounds like a line from EastEnders.

We’re told the train is “arriving into” Leamington Spa, or that Bicester North is the next “station stop”. It is always a relief to enter Welsh rail-space and hear announcements in the “ancient and incomprehensible language of that land. They sound lovely.”

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