Wednesday, November 15, 2006

First rant

The sub-heading of this blog promises the odd misanthropic rant, so for veracity's sake, here goes...

I travel a lot by train and of late Station Announcements have really started to get on my wick. The first problem is that they are nearly all electronic these days. Now, yes, voice software has improved a lot, but it's still very obviously a standard message that goes out with the odd word dropped in to make it specific to your problem. The slight shifts in tone or drops in volume over certain words (places, times) shows you this.

All of which is fine. Except... well, you know that it's a fake voice, you know that it's a recording, so why, when an apology is called for does it say "I"? There is patently no "I" to refer to (unless B R Station Announcement technology has become self-aware). What's wrong with "We", thereby making it a corporate apology? To be honest, whenever I hear one of those messages apologising for a late running train, I feel as if British Rail (or whoever) is laughing at us. It's such an insincere message.

Not that it stops there. Occasionally, you do get a real person speaking, most frequently these days with a new announcement that declares 'Please would passengers use the full length of the platform when boarding and alighting'. Now this is obviously a new scripted announcement - every staion in this area uses it - but nobody has stopped to think that it makes no sense at all!

The first half is okay - despite the fact that it does make you sound like Mr Fantastic, it is possible to use the full length of the platform when boarding a train (or at least, for passengers to spread themselves out a bit rather than all clump up at the bottom of the platform steps, which is I think what they mean), but once you are on the train, you are effectively stuck in one place. To use the full length of the platform to alight from the train would require dashing from carriage to carriage just before you got off. So why keep it in the announcement? Do they really want us all to run up and down the train merrily - or does B R just have a lousy script writer?

End of first rant (prepare to get used to them!) ;-)


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