Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

'Obtuse' rail announcements slammed

MP Tom Greatrex called for a universal term to be used by conductors for train station stops

Tourists are being confused by train conductors using obtuse language to tell passengers that they are approaching a station, a Labour MP has said.

Tom Greatrex said many train conductors now tell passengers they are approaching "calling points" or "embarkation points", leaving many tourists confused about whether they have arrived at their destination.

The Labour MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West said instead train companies should stick to commonly-used language and refer to stops as stations. Raising the issue with Commons Leader Andrew Lansley, the shadow energy and climate change minister said: "You will be aware, at least according to announcements of trains, that trains don't stop at stations any more.

"Instead they have 'calling points', 'embarkation stops' and apparently some trains 'platform'. Could I ask that we have a statement from the Secretary of State for Transport and that we have a universal term for station stops because as well as the irritation it causes regular travellers, it also causes confusion for tourists?

"Perhaps I could put a bid in for a very simple term and could we have stations rather than anything else?"

Mr Lansley replied: "It's a good question. I will of course ask the (ministers) at the Department for Transport but they may be loathed to try and standardise everything in the railways.

"I must say that I agree about the announcements that are made. I particularly liked one on one morning when the announcement was made as we arrived at King's Cross late, was 'apologising to our customers', who were passengers of course, 'for the delay to your service this morning as this was due to the late running of trains'. It was a statement of the obvious."

Speaking outside the Commons, Mr Greatrex said he first came across the problem when he was returning to his constituency in Scotland on the Virgin train to Glasgow. The conductor told passengers that the "next calling point was Wigan", prompting Mr Greatrex to tweet the announcement.

The MP said he received a number of replies from his followers angry at the problem. East Midlands trains apparently tell passengers they are "platforming" as they approach stations while another operator mentions "embarkation and disembarkation points", he added.

Mr Greatrex: "It irritates people, not only because it is an obtuse way of using the English language, but more seriously if you are a tourist from France or Germany you will probably know the word for station and it is confusing. It would make a lot of common sense to use to English language as it has been used for a long time and say 'station'."

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