I had an assignment in Cambridge last Friday, so took the 07:50 Greater Anglia service from Peterborough to Ely, where a change to the 08:38 departure for Cambridge (another Greater Anglia service) was planned.
Perusal of the departure screen on arrival at Ely showed the 08:38 to Cambridge had been cancelled due to a ‘late running freight train). That left an 08:52 CrossCountry service and a Great Northern service around ten minutes later as alternatives.
Then the station PA burst into life. Apparently the 08:38 departure was running 24 minutes late and would operate to Cambridge North. These announcements continued with details that the train would arrive in XX minutes time right down to an announcement that it would arrive on platform 1 in one minutes time. But none of this was true. The train, said station staff, was not running and they could not stop or over-ride the PA announcements.
What made it worse is the automated announcements for the 08:38 assured passengers the train was running and would go forward to Cambridge North. In reality passengers for Cambridge North were told to catch the next service through to Cambridge and then get a train back to Cambridge North. All well and good but confusion ensued as the announcements for the non-existent 08:38 continued.
I made it to Cambridge, but failed to get on the CrossCountry service which was full and standing on departure from Ely.
It seems Greater Anglia has a PA system at Ely that gives out incorrect information and for which there is no way of stopping it. Hardly a case of good communication.
We have asked Greater Anglia to comment on the problem. They said:: “We are working to improve our communication to customers during disruption. We would like to thank the you for your feedback. This is something we will look into, to make sure this situation does not happen again.
“Digital announcements at stations can be switched off during disruption. We apologise for the confusion caused on this occasion.”
Steven Knight is a Transport Specialist who has over 40 years experience in the bus and rail industries as well as in specialist transport journalism. He is a member of the Chartered Institute of Journalists.