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“Please help me persuade London Underground (TfL) to turn off those wretched Public Annoyance systems...QUIET PLEASE!” – John Bull


John Bull

London Underground is continually plagued with LOUD, irritating, patronising, tedious, whinging, stupid, pointless, endlessly repeated announcements endlessly repeated that make travelling by public transport something to be avoided whenever possible.

OK, blind people need short, quiet on-train announcements e.g. "Westminster, Destination Stratford", but that should be the limit unless there's sudden unexpected disruption.

In the medium term, routine announcements would be far better made on a dedicated short-range radio frequency that would allow detailed local information to be given to blind people without annoying everyone else.

Problem History

  • 1 John Bull reported the issue on FixMyTransport. close 19:03 30 Aug 2011
  • 2 John Bull wrote to London Underground (TfL) close 19:03 30 Aug 2011

    Here is the letter that John Bull wrote.

    Stop theses endless, stupid, deafening announcements !

    Please stop making all these irritating announcements on trains and in stations. They are deafeningly LOUD, patronising and repeated far too often. For example, you simply don't need three on-train announcements about the next station within half a minute.

    There seems to be no end to the stupidity, such as announcements asking people not to leave newspapers on escalators. Blind people don't read newspapers, for heaven's sake ! If you're that worried, put up a poster instead.

  • 3 [email address] responded to John Bull close 19:25 30 Aug 2011
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  • 4 a meade commented close 12:46 31 Aug 2011

    i agree but under dda regs those bloody p.a will continue (p.a for those visabilty impaired and dot matrix for hard of hearing people)
    london underground and all train operators are bound by these regs

  • 5 Hazel O'Hare commented close 15:18 31 Aug 2011

    Most of these announcements are unnecessary, even for blind people. I am particularly annoyed by one at Earls Court Station that says: 'Ladies and Gentlemen. There is a good service on the District Line, there is a good service on the Piccadilly Line and a good service on all other London Underground Lines'. What is the point of this?

  • 6 John Bull commented close 17:31 04 Sep 2011

    There's nothing in the Disability Discrimination Act (actually it's been replaced Equality Act) or the Rail Vehicle Accessibility Regulations that says that there has to a silly, deafening announcement every 30 seconds.

  • 7 [email address] responded to John Bull close 12:42 10 Sep 2011
    Our ref: 1009423252

    Date: 10.09.2011

    Dear Mr Bull

    Thank you for your email about the announcements on our network.

    I’m sorry to hear that you believe the non service announcements
    are played too regularly and I can appreciate how frustrating
    this must be, epecially as you feel they are too loud.

    I can confirm that the type and frequency of messages that are
    broadcast at our stations are intended to supply customers
    with information that is relevant without overloading
    them. Service information - to tell customers if there is a good
    service, delays or a suspension - should be the most frequent
    type of message, but will in most cases it will not be
    played more than once every five minutes.

    Non-service announcements should be less frequent, with
    announcements from each category to be made no more than once an
    hour. The categories are: housekeeping (no smoking, no
    photography etc); marketing (Oyster prepay); and safety &
    security (CCTV, personal belongings etc).

    You mentioned that you feel the annoucnements on our network are
    too loud. I can confirm that the announcements are set at a
    volume that can be heard over the ambient sounds in stations and
    on board trains. However, if there is a specific example of
    where you feel the announcements are louder than normal then
    please provide the details and I will ionvestigate the matter
    further to ensure that the volume is set correctly.

    You also raised the issue of the next station announcements
    being repeated a number of times on board Jubilee line trains. I
    appreciate that this is frustrating and can be disruptive.

    I can confirm that one of our Jubilee line upgrade managers has
    provided me with some information regarding this issue. They
    have informed me that the reason the announcements are repeating
    more frequently than previously is as a result of the recent
    upgrade work taking place on the line.

    As part of the line upgrade a new system has been implemented
    for making automated announcements at each station. When the new
    system was introduced it should have suppressed the
    announcements being made by the old system. Unfortunately this
    suppression didn't work as planned and as a result both systems
    are currently in operation.

    Please rest assured that we are aware of the issue and our
    engineers are in the process of rectifying the matter. Therefore
    over the coming weeks you should gradually notice a decline in
    the announcements being repeated on board trains.

    I hope you find this information helpful and please contact me
    again if you need any help in the future.

    Yours sincerely,

    Sam Thomas
    Customer Service Advisor
    Customer Service Centre

    If you wish to reply directly to this email, please click on the
    reply button on your toolbar. Please do not alter or delete the
    subject line as this will result in your email not being

    To improve our service we would very much like your feedback and
    we would be grateful if you would complete our brief and
    confidential Customer Satisfaction Survey. To access the survey
    [1]click here.

    If you wish to contact us with a new or unrelated query or look
    at our Frequently Asked Questions, please [2]click here

    DO NOT DELETE.............................
    DO NOT DELETE.............................

    Original Text

    From: [email address]
    To: [London Underground (TfL) problem reporting email] <[email address]>
    Sent: 30.08.11 19:25:04
    Subject: Problem Report: Stop theses endless, stupid, deafening
    announcements !

    Dear London Underground (TfL),

    The problem report below has been sent to you via the website

    It refers to a problem on the Jubilee Line


    From: John Bull, <[turn off those wretched Public Annoyance systems...QUIET PLEASE! email]>

    Subject: Stop theses endless, stupid, deafening announcements !


    Please stop making all these irritating announcements on trains
    in stations. They are deafeningly LOUD, patronising and repeated
    far too often. For example, you simply don't need three on-train
    announcements about the next station within half a minute.

    There seems to be no end to the stupidity, such as announcements
    asking people not to leave newspapers on escalators. Blind
    don't read newspapers, for heaven's sake ! If you're that
    put up a poster instead.



    Location name: Jubilee Line



    Sender: [turn off those wretched Public Annoyance systems...QUIET PLEASE! email]

    PLEASE NOTE: Your replies to this problem report WILL BE

    To view a map of the precise location of this issue, or to
    an update on the problem, please visit the following link:



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  • 8 Bernard Winchester commented close 12:03 02 Dec 2011

    I am with you 100%, John Bull. In fact, I came across this campaign while trying to find out what to do about the ghastly situation myself. Every time I go on the tube these days I come out with jangled nerves. The barrage of announcements makes every journey a misery. I have spoken with friends and acquaintances and every one agrees. The last person to discuss the situation with me told me that she has to carry ear-plugs with her to make the journey bearable.

    Now I hear that this is all done in the name of the blind. Ironically, many blind people develop exceptionally sensitive hearing to compensate for their condition, and so find these deafening announcements particularly hard to bear. I suspect that they are being deterred

    On the continent, where these announcements have been common for many years, the volume is generally kept to the minimum needed to be heard by an attentive passenger and the content is usually also restricted to what is relevant, viz the name of the next station or stop. In fact, I have found that the volume actually detracts from the content of the messages: they make me feel so battered that all I can think about is stopping them. (I am dreaming of using a sharp instrument to sever the voice coils of the loudspeakers).

    It is all so unnecessary: a few days ago, I was travelling on the Northern line in the rush hour and found myself standing in such a dense crowd that my body was under pressure from those around me. It was cramped, airless, and the train was noisy. That much I could have coped with, but then the loudspeakers, one of which was within a foot of my ears, began their deafening announcements. It was like a painful electric shock going through me. Why, why, why torture the poor passengers in this way? It made me think of Guantanamo Bay. I am sure that 99.9% of passengers know where they are going: everywhere there are signs, indicators and route maps. No-one is about to get lost. Even the hypothetical solitary blind passenger can ask for help from another traveller: who would not gladly assist such a person? Instead, we all have to suffer. It is crazy.

    Before finding this campaign, I discovered that the issue has been raised many times before, even by Ken Livingstone and London Assembly committees, but no-one seems able to make any headway with it. For example, residents in the vicinity of Earl’s Court station made endless complaints to London Underground and councillors, but nothing was done about the din from the station; in fact, after changes to the PA system in 2004, it got worse. Eventually Kensington and Chelsea council issued a noise abatement order against TfL in April 2007, but TfL appealed, arguing that the announcements were vital for passenger safety. A year later it abandoned the case and West London magistrates' court ordered it to pay the council's legal bill of £115,000; see

    It is also curious to see how little has changed since the UK Noise Association issued a report on this very subject in May 2007:
    That report shows a high degree of inconsistency in this area between tube lines, and, to a lesser degree, stations. Its findings, although 4 years old, ring just as true today. For instance, the Piccadilly and Northern lines are still much louder than the Bakerloo, or, dare I say it, the Jubilee. Despite the fact that the stress caused by these loud announcements must be causing long-term damage to the health of staff and passengers on a grand scale (apart from the psychological effects, it is well-known that stress impairs the immune system and accelerate aging), no-one seems prepared to do anything about it, even when it is acknowledged by TfL management that PA systems have been faultily installed or programmed.

    The systems on the buses have generally been reduced in volume, although in many cases they are still, as the UKNA puts it, too intrusive. Shortly after they began a supervisor showed me how the volume, even after being turned down by the driver, crept up by itself due to some peculiarity in the equipment design. Of course, the bus announcements remain ludicrously repetitive: at every stop I hear that I am on “Bus 466, to Caterham-on-the Hill”. Would I have boarded the bus without knowing what route it was, and where it was going?

    In September a number of politicians and campaigners combined to call for quiet carriages on trains to avoid the scourge of loud talking and mobile phone calling:
    Ironically these to me are of little consequence compared to the over-amplified announcements, which I very much fear would still be relayed, “for our safety and comfort”, to the quiet carriages.

    While, then, I take the view that on-board announcements should be rare and confined to new information which passengers really need to know (eg a significant delay or change of destination), if the powers that be refuse to accept this, then at least a reduction in volume and/or confining the announcements to certain parts of trains or buses would be a great improvement. This is an abuse which we should not have to endure, and I intend to go on fighting it.

  • 9 Myf Nixon advised John to write to Noise Abatement Society. close 13:35 02 Dec 2011

    Thanks to Bernard for bringing this campaign back to the top of the pile. I have just been looking at the Noise Abatement Society website, and see that they have similar opinions on this issue:

    John, if you'd care to contact them and find out if there's anything you might do, their email address is

    Good luck!

    Myf Nixon

  • 10 John Bull commented close 22:42 29 Feb 2012

    Public Annoyance messages just get louder and louder and even more stupid. Jubilee Line trains still make three very loud announcements in quick succession about the next station and the lines serving it.

    The silliest is the now the deafening one on the eastbound Jubilee Line platform at Westminster that warns passengers "Please Stand Back From The Platform Edge".

    Utterly pointless of course - they obviously don't realise that there are platform edge doors !

  • 11 pete williams commented close 23:57 03 Mar 2012

    the new metropolitan trains are worse- at least 3 announcements per station, sometimes 4 if a 'Mind The Gap ' is called for, just think of it ! sixty (at least)
    of them between Uxbridge ans Aldgate.
    Together with the Dur-Dur, Dur- dur noise each and every time a door opens
    Just what's wanted after a stressfull day at work
    Thanks, very much, Bombardier- nice work.

  • 12 Peter Dixon commented close 10:15 04 Mar 2012

    Unfortunately this is what the Rail Vehicle Access Regulations now demand. My advice would be to target the really pointless

  • 13 Sarah Baskerville commented close 11:23 04 Mar 2012

    One does wonder about their effectiveness anymore.

    Given the rise of people totally switching off and choosing to listen to music on their iPhones/mp3 players to block out the annoying announcements and to help them through the stressful commute.

    If people are no longer listening, what is the point in having them. Something to discuss I think.

  • 14 Val Weedon commented close 15:07 23 Apr 2012

    You will be pleased to know I have chosen London Underground for my Noise Tzar Blue Mu Award for their constant bombardment of loud announcements!
    It will be awarded on Wednesday 25th April which is International Noise Awareness Day!

    The Blue Mu Awards are given to those contributing little or nothing to prevent noise nuisance or improve the aural environment.

    The Blue Mu Award scheme is being run by Noisedirect, a national noise advice line. Blue Mu is based on the Japanese Kanji symbol for nothing.

    For more information go to Noisedirects website

    Val Weedon MBE
    Noisedirect's Noise Tzar

  • 15 Bernard Winchester commented close 00:06 25 Apr 2012

    Well done, Val: they would be my choice too! Regrettably the railways seem to be following in London Underground's footsteps and getting louder: try London Bridge platform 6!

    I bought a digital noise meter in a recent sale at Maplin's and will take some readings soon: I am sure that on some tube lines they would exceed recognised health limits.

  • 16 Val Weedon commented close 07:40 25 Apr 2012

    Hi Bernard. I bought a noise meter from Maplins too a few years ago and did some readings on London Underground. Some levels were well in excess of any Health and Safety guidelines. But then LU don't care about our exposure!

    Had lots of meetings with both the GLA and LU officials but years later they still continue with their inane announcements about "being a good service" "take a bottle of water with you" and "standing behind the yellow line" Dah! Not I want to stand right on the edge! You get my meaning...

    Great campaign. Lets keep up the pressure.

  • 17 Const Kor commented close 08:15 15 Feb 2013

    A big thank you to everyone who is taking the time to stop these annoying suspicion was that they were just selfish ******* who had decided to have tannoys even outside stations but now I believe it is a little more sinister. "there is a good service" is used when it could be saying that "the service is running normally". Repeating the "good service" announcement is, I think, a way of trying to embed an idea that the service is "good" rather than "adequate". Embedded commands are familiar to those who know about Hypnotic states and NLP and I think that this is all a bit too "1984" !

  • 18 John Stewart commented close 11:01 17 Feb 2013

    Really support this campaign. Some years ago I did a short report which looked at the frequency and loudness of the announcements on the underground system. They are way and beyond what is legally required fir blind people. I chair an organisation called the UK Noise Association.

  • 19 Russell Levinson commented close 00:12 10 Apr 2013

    It's getting worse.

    The stupid 'good service' announcement, hitherto restricted to stations, has now appeared on some Victoria Line trains, delivered at every station and between every station, ie twice per station. Will they never leave us alone, and just tell us of any problems?

    Have you also noticed the occasional platform staff who make routine announcements about the next train / move down inside the carriage etc? Reasonable to have crowd control when the train or platform is full, but they go on doing it when both are empty. Apparently they have to as they are monitored - and it appears that this monitoring is just mindless checking if they're giving the announcements, rather than ensuring they're using this common sense.

    It's salutary to use tube systems abroad eg the Metro where there were no announcements at all, yet somehow everyone got from A to B.

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