The next station is... New... Add-ing-ton

Posted on 2 August 2006 in London, Transport (No comments)

It's not often that I am speechless, but as I type this, I am. But before I explain why, let me explain.

Not far away from where I like is a Croydom Tramlink stop - Tramlink's a light rail tram system, which runs around the Croydon area, but also goes to Wimbledon. It's quite handy if there's a tram due and usually quicker to get to Wimbledon than the buses which end up being stuck outside Sainsburys.

Anyway, the trams have a computer system for announcing which stop is next, and Tramlink have recently been changing over the voices used. Previously it was just a man and reasonably clear and concise.

However recently the voices have been changed to a new pairing, which I initially dubbed "authoritative man and demur woman" - the male voice always announces loudly what the next station, whilst the female voice lets you know as many tenuous bus connections as possible (like announcing bus connections for Wimbledon when you're sat on a tram that's just come from Wimbledon...)

Recently they changed the Tramlink routes so now Wimbledon trains also go to New Addington. It was during those announcements that we realised how much the announcements sound like the voices are talking to a stupid person.

It's... the way... that... every-thing is... ennounci-ated... very... very... clear-ley... and... very... slowly... so... that it.... sounds... like you... are... being... talked down... to.

The extremely long way of saying New.... Add-ing-ton was the killer on this theory.

Well blow me if I didn't find out today, via a comment on the Going Underground blog, that the voice is none other than ITN newsreader Nicholas Owen - a rather talented man and certainly someone who knows how to announce things. Which begs the question, how did it all go so wrong on the Tramlink announcements?

In case you're wondering why Nicholas Owen, well it appears Nicholas is a bit of a transport buff (he wrote a book on the history of the British Trollybus) and Tramlink enthusiast himself, even appearing to extol the virtues of the system at Tramlink's fifth birthday last year, where the cake was in the shape of a tram. By all accounts he uses the system regularly. Can't help but wonder therefore what he thinks of his own work.

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