Birmingham in words and sounds


imagesTZDG2KHFThursday was a significant day in the lives of many residents and visitors to the UK’s second City. After 5 years and at least £750M, New Street Station was reopened having been entirely rebuilt from the outside to the inside. There are a number of accounts in this web page of the work undertaken and the impact. What is missing from the various accounts as far as my own views are concerned is any indication of the quality of the sound of announcements on the platforms and within the concourse, along with the visual announcements displayed for visitors to see. The issue of sound quality is also an issue for those travellers who rely on hearing aids to understand what is being announced, relying on hearing loops having been designed in properly. After several years of working for a company that focuses on these three areas of communication, I can write with confidence that across their network, Network Rail do not treat these issues with the priority that I believe they should. We have spent many hours lobbying rail operators to consider new ideas, as have hearing link and the loop up groups. The operators whilst difficult to deal with, are ultimately focused on the journey’s that their customers make and so do eventually listen. However Network Rail who are responsible for all of the major stations in the UK including Birmingham New Street have a culture which tells them that change, particularly change that has cost implications is something to be rejected unless their major funder (the Government) is hitting the table very loudly. Having persuaded rail operators to take a risk and experiment with technology that has already been proven in other nations, Network Rail proved to be impervious to any change they did not invent themselves. In addition to Network Rail’s luddite resistance to these changes, the current Government will never pay enough attention to these issues to really consider hitting the table. This means that unfortunately the New Street development will probably sound and in digital signage terms, look much like it did before the £750M was spent. I have not yet visited the station and I would love to be proven wrong, but I suspect I will not be.

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About ianchisnall

I have a passion to see public policy made accessible everyone who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as in policies on health services and strategic planning.
This entry was posted in Deaf & Hard of Hearing, Network Rail, Parliament and Democracy and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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