Is it Just Me…

…or has anybody else’s train undergone a sex change today? For the last eighteen months I have been informed, soothed, cajoled, nagged, interrupted and annoyed by the computerised tones – faintly gravelly, reassuringly middle-class, well-spoken but not too fruity – of SouthWest Trains Man. Now, all of a sudden, we get SouthWest Trains Woman. We’ve always had the pair of them on the platform announcements at Vauxhall – they seem to alternate the sexes between the platforms to minimise confusion – but I’ve never been a big fan of her. Her voice is breathy and unsupported, her cadences are all wrong, and she makes LondonWaterloo sound like it’s alloneword. She acheives neither the firm smack of discipline of Hackney Downs woman (‘Heckney Downs, this is Heckney Downs’), nor the faintly wistful elegaic note of the voice of the Central line (‘Cannon Street station is closed’). Still, no doubt a focus group somewhere has found that we prefer to be told what to do by a woman than by a man however well spoken he may be, and so we’re stuck with her.

And, much as I hate to pander to cheap stereotypes, she manages to be even chattier than he was. For they’ve given her one new thing to say: ‘Please note that all seats on this train are standard class.’ – Yes, indeedy, they’re coming clean about first class or more to the point, the lack of it. My informant was correct: it doesn’t officially exist on these routes and we can sit anywhere we please. So now all I have to do is summon up the courage to go and sit in the first class carriage the next time the train is full. It’s just that I would feel so much more confident in doing so if it was SWT Man who’d told me that I could…


8 responses to “Is it Just Me…

  1. *puts on faintly gravelly, reassuringly middle-class, well-spoken but not too fruity voice*

    Disgruntled, feel free to go sit up in first class, find yourself a nice comfy seat. You have my permission, and I am Mr SouthWest Trains.


  2. Just think yourself lucky you don’t get them alternating in English and Welsh…..

  3. Ah but what is the Welsh for ‘Safety information is displayed throughout this train’ or ‘Please do try to take all your belongings with you when leaving this train.’?

  4. I’m just waiting for an episode of Dr Who in which the villan rushes around reciting mindlessly “Mind the gap. Mind the gap…”

  5. I questioned this a while ago at Work.

    The answer I was given is as follows, it appears that the greater public find a womans voice “easier” on the ears than a mans, plus apparently a mans voice is reserved for Emergency Instructions as it is more authoritative.

    However, had it crossed tyour mind that the male that did the voice, may be transgender?

  6. I get slightly irritated by the woman on the Northern Line who pronounces ‘Highgate’ as ‘Highgut’.

    And no amount of RP training is going to make Kentish Town sound posh.

  7. Update – we now seem to have the bloke in the morning, and the woman in the evenings. Or maybe it’s just one rogue transgender train?

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