Is there a limit to how many announcements can be made on a train?   Our London-based colleague Vivien Hepworth blogged on this very issue last week, but it has been nagging at The Lobby for some time, not least because on the international services of Thalys and the Eurostar in particular, every announcement is multiplied three times (and sometimes four) depending on the languages spoken.

Messages usually take the following rambling pattern:

  • Welcome to our train service between X and Y.
  • My name is Thierry/Carla your Train Manager.
  • This train will be stopping at X and Y.
  • Please sit in your seat or you will cause scenes of chaos and probably outright rebellion by your fellow passengers.
  • Please label your luggage and make sure it doesn’t obstruct the corridor/cause our Train Manager to fall over as he/she walks through the cabin (see below).
  • A restaurant is located in coach 6 (often the furthest away coach from where you are sitting).
  • Please use your mobile phone with consideration (badly translated: it should read “never”).
  • If we can be of any help please do not hesitate to contact us as we walk through the cabin.

…as if this wasn’t enough, it is sometimes followed by the much-esteemed catering manager who does his/her little cameo. We are informed when the restaurant bar is open and when it will close.  In every language possible.  If he/she is an employee of Deutsche Bahn, they will proceed in running down the entire menu on offer.  After every station.  In both German and English.

On the Eurostar we are informed that the stop at Lille will be “a short stop” and that we are about to enter the Channel Tunnel (ah, so that’s why it’s gone dark all of a sudden!)

Only a "short stop" here

Only a "short stop" here

Of course, the really frustrating thing is that they rarely tell you what you actually need to know, such as why we have been sat stationary in the dark for ten minutes, what that really loud bang was, and why the train driver appears to be taking the scenic route through Flanders and not the well-trodden high-speed line, resulting in an unnecessary 30 minute delay (as happened last Sunday evening to The Lobby.)

Could we perhaps suggest that the bare minimum suffice, namely “this is the train for X, our next stop is Y” and leave it at that?  Perhaps the train companies should introduce some form of a visual display at the front of every carriage, or just heed their own advice and use the loudspeakers “with consideration.”

– Rob

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