Grant Shapps ridiculed over 'Thick of It' train tannoy video

21 January 2022, 15:00

Grant Shapps appeared in a video outlining his bid to get rid of "banal" train announcements
Grant Shapps appeared in a video outlining his bid to get rid of "banal" train announcements. Picture: Department for Transport/Twitter

By Will Taylor

A bizarre video showing transport secretary Grant Shapps explain he wants to end "unnecessary" announcements on trains has been savaged online, with social media users comparing it to The Thick of It.

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The minister is filmed as if he was on a train journey, lowering a newspaper to look at the camera before explaining how he is tired of tannoy messages he thinks can disrupt commuters.

He sighs after a barrage of parody announcements about inclement weather and service updates are made to the carriage he's in.

The video followed an announcement that the Government wants to scrap "banal" messages which the Department for Transport said "add unnecessary noise and disruption to journeys".

The clip was greeted with ridicule online, with several pointing to a clip from Westminster comedy The Thick of It, where a minister's aide suggests a he keep a "back pocket" policy involving tripling the number of quiet coaches on inter-city trains.

Another user tweeted the video with: "Speaking of useless announcements. Here's one."

One said "It's not very "Red Meat" is it?" in reference to an operation launched by Boris Johnson to offer up so he can try cling on to his job.

"Can you replace them with announcements to say that the train might actually turn up, be on time, of suitable carriage-length and (I know I'm pushing it here) a reasonable expense to the purse?" read another tweet.

In the video, Mr Shapps, lowering his copy of The Daily Telegraph, says to the camera: "If you've travelled by train, you've probably heard some of these messages.

"Time and again, repeated over and over. Well, some messages are clearly important, but others just state the obvious.

"Do we really need to be told to put our newspapers in the bin or that the weather outside is inclement?

"Passengers just need to be treated as grown ups and be able to use their common sense, because train travel should be a chance to relax, read a book, maybe catch up on some work or even take a nap.

"So we've reviewed the messages that are played on the tannoy system and where they add nothing but noise and irritation, we're removing them."

He says this is part of the "Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail", which is setting out major changes to Britain's train lines.

Most notably, that includes the establishment of a new body, Great British Railways, which will set most fares and timetables.

At the end of the clip, another passenger in front of Mr Shapps leans to the side.

For unclear reasons, the young commuter says to the camera: "Customers are requested to please be aware this is the last of the pointless announcements you will be hearing. Thanks for travelling."

Louise Haigh, Labour's shadow transport secretary, criticised the announcement as households face rising prices.

She said: "Tannoys aren't the only thing that have fallen silent. Ministers have literally nothing to say about the Conservatives' cost of living crisis facing passengers as they hike up rail fares this year and services are cut."