Stressful on-board announcements

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me_little_me

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Reading through the TA-S section of it now. And it seems like some of these are not in regular practice..
Pffftttt! Some of Amtrak's "standards" have always been just suggestions to some of their staff.
 
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MARC Rider

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When I was a teenage railfan geek 50 years ago, you were lucky to get any announcements. Certainly not over the nonexistant PA system. The conductor might announce the station stops, but when the train ground to a halt somewhere between Wilmington and Baltimore and sat there for an hour, nobody told us anything about what was happening.
 

Seaboard92

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There was a conductor on the AMTK Cascades that when traversing the coastline south of Bellingham spoke sympathetically of the endangered grey gulls flying outside (seagulls) and announce when we were passing Point Tunga Bunga (his name for the local nudist beach.) Of course, he did this all with a straight face.
One time I had a conductor have a hot mic event on No. 510 going into Canada. It was right after Trump had threatened to cut some national program. It was right after the conductor announced that we had entered Canada so if you don't want to pay for cell roaming charges to turn your phone to "train Mode". His coworker was pointing out to him. "Hey look there is America's national bird taking refuge from the Trump administration" and on the left on the beach there must have been a hundred bald eagles. I didn't take a photo as I was too busy rolling on the floor keeled over in laughter.
 

neroden

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Trains from Chicago to the West Coast generally have far too much repetitive chatter on the PA. The LSL, CL, CS, and "corridor" trains usually had less IMO. Not sure why. Maybe they figure the customers are less experienced on the transcons, or something.
 
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Willbridge

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Personally I think the announcements are just part of the train experience. I like how a lot of the conductors on the Western trains make announcements about the history of the route, the sites we are passing by, wishing a passenger a Happy Birthday. I had the same conductor, Brad, for three or four trips between Denver and Glenwood Springs; he is so knowledgable about the route that he narrated the route with totally different facts and anecdotes on each trip, and really added to the experience.
Brad played a customer's guitar to entertain while we waited for one of those last minute delays that occurred to Train 5 just before its Denver arrival. He also led the effort to place the fabled Moffat Cup on display in Denver Union Station.
 

Palmland

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I ride in the sleepers on LD trips and rarely am I able to hear announcements. I actually enjoy hearing them and wish the sound system was better and controllable by the passengers. I also feel for those who are bothered by them as well.
This is the best solution. Give passengers the option to turn down the volume. But the SCA would have to be sure to include the safety briefing as part of his welcome talk with each passenger.
 

railiner

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And in Penn Station - the regular live announcer was a master! I think her voice still plays by the escalators.
I think you might be referring to Sheila Heriot, depending on when...she was superb! But everybody's favorite was the late Danny Simmons, whose animated announcements, especially of the Crescent, drew applause, after his longated, "Allllllllllllll, Aboard!":cool:
 

willem

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[...] The problem was the constant announcements made in a harsh, aggressive voice over a PA system that was so loud that it must have been at maximum volume. [...]
Most of the responses seem to discuss the existence or desirability of announcements rather than the quality of the sound. If I understood Ferroequinologist correctly, the issue was more the blaring. I agree completely that the announcements should be pleasant as well as informative.
I'm had of hearing and low volume is not the problem. Clarity is. I can compensate for low volume by upping the sound in my hearing aids but there is no way to make garbled sound understandable no matter how loud it is. In fact, likely their turning up the volume is what causes the lack of clarity because of poor quality or installation of the amplifiers and speakers.
This, over and over. Announcement protocol, both in adjusting the PA settings and in tone and delivery, should be emphasized during the conductors' training. That's my opinion, of course, and I express that opinion knowing full well that there are already many different aspects of the job that require training.
 

railiner

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Brad played a customer's guitar to entertain while we waited for one of those last minute delays that occurred to Train 5 just before its Denver arrival. He also led the effort to place the fabled Moffat Cup on display in Denver Union Station.
If you were not a 'commuter' and tired of hearing the same announcements over and over, the so called 'mike artists' were a good source of entertainment for occasional passenger's and tourists. A couple of my favorites were Rio Grande trainman Billings, who ran Denver/Grand Junction on the CZ. He gave both scenic highlights and wild tales about character's along the route. One was of a world famous female swimmer who challenged the Zephyr's engineer, "Mad Dog Schenley" to a race along the Colorado River. Another was that inside the Moffat Tunnel, Amtrak had gone thru much expense to commission the creation of scenic murals along the tunnel walls...he then went on to say that unfortunatley, the lighting was disabled that day, so to ask your seatmate to borrow their flashlight if you didn't bring yours, to view them thru the window....Mr. Billings elected to stay with the D&RGW, and not come over to Amtrak when they took over the Zephyr T&E crews.

My other favorite was Amtrak/Illinois Central conductor Woody Vinson, who ran the City of New Orleans thru Mississippi. He loved to tell the saga of Casey Jones, and delighted in pointing out the exact spot of the train wreck at Vaughn, MS. He begged anyone knowing the ballad of Casey Jones, to "please come to the speaker", to sing it for everyone...after no taker's came forth was more requests, he then said he would settle for anyone knowing the "Wabash Cannonball".
 

NSC1109

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Reading through the TA-S section of it now. And it seems like some of these are not in regular practice..
The OBSSM doesn’t cover everything. The version available on Amtrak’s website is also a redacted version (says so right in the URL).

Conductors and OBS personnel use their best judgement when the situation requires a non-standard response. Frankly, if I had to choose between a Conductor who memorized either the operating rules or the OBSSM announcements, I’d choose the one who memorized the operating rules..
 
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amtrakpass

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Count me in the less announcements is generally better category. Especially on an all reserved train. A quick next stop coming up and the cafe is open is enough for me. And a major delay reason should be announced and updated. Likewise there should be no announcements overnight and lights low since the crew knows where people are going and can let them know individually. And as far as mask announcements and before covid, other random behavior type directions I feel are totally unnecessary. If someone isn't following directions the crew can talk to them individually while they walk the train without harping at everybody on the PA. On the other hand, conductor's railroad radio's do need to be turned up so they can communicate with the Engineer and hear the Train Dispatcher if needed.
 

anumberone

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In a lot of cases, I think the person making the announcement is fed up with being ask the same question they just announced over and over again, hense, turn up the volume. In actuality, as irritating as it is to some, others could be hit in the head and wouldn't hear the message.

Personally, I'm hard of hearing so I ask my wife, What They Say? After a few of those inquiries her voice gets more loud and raspy than the conductor.
 
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jis

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I think fewer aural announcements with much better and more informative status displays is the way to go.

Too many announcements do not necessarily mean more people will pay attention. Often it causes people to more aggresively tune out all announcements into background noise, and consequently has exactly the opposite effect of what the Conductor is trying to achieve.
 

Devil's Advocate

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Why can't Amtrak give their warnings to intermediate passengers as they board instead of interrupting the entire train to inform a few new pickups? The PA should be there for dynamic information that all or most of the train wants/needs to hear, such as unusual delay information and unexpected safety problems, that cannot be provided in a simpler and more targeted fashion. It should not be a catch-all solution that repeats the same messaging to everyone for the benefit of a few new ears from the last departure. I don't want the PA to go away but for all the hand wringing about safety I've yet to hear a single "brace yourself" or "abandon train" message in all the years I've ridden Amtrak
 
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MARC Rider

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...interrupting the entire train to inform a few new pickups?
"A few new pickups?" Usually, about 100 people board a Northbound Northeast Regional at Baltimore, and more board in Wilmington and Philadelphia. Only about half the train is full when it leaves Washington. But, you're right, they could make some of the announcements on the platform while the passengers are waiting.
 

me_little_me

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In a lot of cases, I think the person making the announcement is fed up with being ask the same question they just announced, over and over again, hense, turn up the volume. In actuality, as irritating as it is to some, others could be hit in the head and wouldn't hear the message.

Personally, I'm hard of hearing so I ask my wife, What They Say? After a few of those inquiries her voice gets more loud and raspy than the conductor.
Are we both married to the same woman? I've been married close to 50 years but she is 18, blond, with a perfect body ... and I also suffer from bad eyesight.
 

Ferroequinologist

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Most of the responses seem to discuss the existence or desirability of announcements rather than the quality of the sound. If I understood Ferroequinologist correctly, the issue was more the blaring. I agree completely that the announcements should be pleasant as well as informative.

Correct. There really are too many announcements but what is most irritating is the extremely loud volume and the unpleasant, often poorly enunciated and aggressive tone of the announcer. Why can't all but emergency announcements be pre-recorded by someone with a clear, pleasant voice? Why can"t the PA system be adjusted? Listen to some of these Japanese Shinkansen announcements. They are a pleasure to listen to even if you don't understand Japanese! YouTube

 

railiner

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Greyhound Lines recognized that problem in the fifties, sixties, and seventies, and had a professional announcer, Jack Kerry do them. They had jukeboxes in each terminal, with a prerecorded first and last call for each departure. The driver or dispatcher would push the appropriate buttons when ready to load.
He also made this training recording to teach the drivers announcing techniques...

https://soundcloud.com/brianroemmele%2Fjack-kerry-the-voice-of-greyhound-a-message-to-drivers
I happen to have one of those 45 rpm departure announcement recordings for an Omaha to Los Angeles trip somewhere in my 'archives'...:cool:
 

Willbridge

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Greyhound Lines recognized that problem in the fifties, sixties, and seventies, and had a professional announcer, Jack Kerry do them. They had jukeboxes in each terminal, with a prerecorded first and last call for each departure. The driver or dispatcher would push the appropriate buttons when ready to load.
He also made this training recording to teach the drivers announcing techniques...

https://soundcloud.com/brianroemmele%2Fjack-kerry-the-voice-of-greyhound-a-message-to-drivers
I happen to have one of those 45 rpm departure announcement recordings for an Omaha to Los Angeles trip somewhere in my 'archives'...:cool:
I remember that voice! He butchered some Pacific Northwest place names but how was he to know how to pronounce 'Clatskanie' ?

As for drivers: at the Gray Line of Portland I knew that the Teamster union agreement would sometimes force me to put the shyest, most withdrawn driver on the City Tour and the gregarious high school teacher summer temp on an airport to hotel transfer where there was little to be said.
 
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