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Rail evacuation

Andrew Steeds


There is so much here that could be improved. For one thing, the heading fails to explain what the text below it will be about: ‘What should you do in an emergency?’ might be better than the far-too-general ‘safety information’. Then the sub-headings fail to build on the initial instruction (‘stay on the train’). And the final sub-heading isn’t really an introduction to the text that follows, which is mostly an explanation of the symbols used.

Then there’s the wording. Why do people say ‘await instructions’ rather than ‘wait for instructions’ or ‘wait to be told what to do’. There’s nothing wrong with ‘await’, of course, but it’s just not a widely used word these days; and in emergencies you want the shortest, clearest, most widely used word. That’s why ‘evacuate’ is a bad choice wherever it occurs here, and especially when it is used without an object in the third line – what’s wrong with ‘get off’ or ‘leave’.

‘speak to the driver through the intercom who will stop the train if safe to do so’ is one of those sentences that could really benefit from reorganisation: at the least, ‘use the intercom to speak to the driver, who will stop the train if it’s safe to do so’ or ‘speak through the intercom to the driver, who .. ’. And, of course, the layout of the text doesn’t help – the position of headings in relation to the text, the bullet-pointed instructions that don’t look like bullet points and in certain cases look like continuous sentences.

Let’s not even mention the missing apostrophe in the first line of the ‘emergency equipment’ text.

In fairness to the rail company in question, they have since attempted to improve this information. As British Rail used to say, ‘we’re getting there’: it’s just taking a while.