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Heard the one about the cancelled 07.52?
Rail staff have a cunning plan for new announcements.
Passengers on trains through Oxfordshire will be treated to comedy timing thanks to Blackadder star Tony Robinson.
Mr Robinson, who played dim-witted Baldrick in the hit series, spent a month giving Chiltern Railways workers tips on how to deliver comedic announcements specially penned by sitcom writer Richard Preddy.
Gone are the straight-laced announcements about stations along the Birmingham to London Marylebone route, which include Banbury, Bicester North and Haddenham and Thame Parkway stations.
Instead commuters will hear a series of one-liners aiming to put a smile on even the grumpiest Monday morning face.
- We will shortly be passing through West Ruislip where we will be racing the Underground trains. Do please feel free to cheer for our driver.
- Our next station stop is Bicester, which is the second most wrongly pronounced station on this line, above Haddenham and Thame, but behind London Marlbon. Marlybon. Mary Lee Bone. You know what I mean.
- Next stop: Banbury, which is famous for its canals. It’s a little known fact that Banbury actually has fewer canals than Venice.
Passengers will also be invited to join in an interactive game calling out when you see a horse, and offered pearls of wisdom such as “If you’re at work and you’re not sure what to do, just walk quickly and look worried”.
The move was last night welcomed by passengers.
Bicester commuter Stephen Wynne-Jones said: “I travel into London on Chiltern Railways every day and I’ve not heard an announcement like this – but I hope I do soon.
“Anything that helps makes me smile as we approach the city can only be a good thing.”
Chris Bates, of the Cherwell Rail Users Group, said: “It’s a good bit of marketing.”
But he said it might not have the same effect if the train was running late.
Mr Preddy, who wrote the quirky Channel 4 sitcom Green Wing, said: “It was fascinating to meet the Chiltern staff and a wonderful, if challenging, project to work on.
“We have all waited for a train or a bus into work as the rain pours down and bustled our way to a seat, and I think comedy can help alleviate that stress.
“Everyone we met was so enthusiastic and the feedback so far has been fantastic.
Mr Robinson said: “Rail commuters can get a bit glum, but we’ve come up with a cunning plan to put smiles on their faces.
“We chose four of their staff, all renowned for their sense of fun, and when we first heard them make their new announcements during our practice run at Marylebone Station, they had Richard and I in stitches.”
- Announcements include
- I’d like to welcome passengers boarding this 7.33 from Birmingham Moor Street to London Marylebone. If you’ve just bumped into someone who you barely know, you now have one hour and 30 minutes of awkward small talk. Good luck.
- Will any passengers listening to noisy iPods please get a better taste in music. Thank you.
- For any passengers who’ve not visited London before, do please prepare yourselves for the relaxing pace of life.
- We are pleased to announce that the distance between Birmingham Moor Street and Solihull has not been adjusted.
- If you are thinking of falling asleep on your neighbour’s shoulder please warn them first if you’re likely to dribble.