THURSDAY 30 AUG 2012 12:49 PM


The Olympics may be behind us, but the Paralympics are up and running, prompting continued concern over the transport system’s ability to handle the chaos. One of the strategies TFL and National Rail employs is making public announcements on trains and buses. The Writer, a language consultancy, polled nearly 300 people regarding the best and worst ways to communicate with a transport audience.

The Writer’s creative director, Nick Parker, says the survey was carried out to prove a link between reputation, profits and communication.

"We did the survey to prove our hunch that it’s not just irritating to customers – it’s costing train companies money,” Parker says. “So we’re throwing down the gauntlet: which train company is finally going to change the language of its announcements, to make its passengers happier, change how people see them, and even save themselves some money?”

Unsurprisingly, 57 per cent of respondents disliked announcers who do not exhibit sincerity or even the mildest empathy in their announcements. The responses to Boris Johnson’s ‘Get Ahead of the Games’ recordings ranged from amusement to mild hatred.

But the news is not all bad for rail companies. Respondents identified numerous individuals who tend to brighten travellers days with their kind, informative and funny announcements.

This week, a whiteboard announcement of the dreaded Farringdon mice went viral, prompting the Evening Standard to provide a rundown of favourite light-hearted Tube signs. Boris may have been cut off mid-Olympics, but passengers appreciate rail companies remaining honest, and above all, funny.