What's supposed to be said:
Next stop: Sydenham; change here for the Illawara and Eastern Suburbs lines.
What actually comes out of the speakers:
Occasionally, a guard will speak very clearly, and that's great; but the problem is that from my years on CityRail I've learnt that most of the time, what passengers actually hear is completely garbled.
I have an anecdote from today, in the quote below.
I was on an Eastern Suburbs train out to Bondi Jn this afternoon heading out to work. A pleasant, slightly old American couple boarded the train at Town Hall and sat directly in front of me. As we pulled out of Town Hall, the wife wondered aloud how they would know when they were at Kings Cross (the station they had to alight at for their hotel, apparently).
So, me being me, I told them, "I'll tell you." They gave a good-natured chuckle and accepted my help (apparently my help was a great relief). Now, when we were leaving Martin Place, the guard announced, "Next stop: Kings Cross", but the Americans didn't respond. I believe it was so bad they didn't even understand it. I didn't. I only knew it because I knew the next stop was Kings Cross, and the next stop is what the guard says when pulling out of a station.
S, I did it myself. Upon hearing my words, "Next stop: Kings Cross", they prepared to alight, and I wished them a happy holiday.
This happens a LOT with CityRail. It's frustrating when you don't know the network inside-out.
So, now that I've finished whinging, I'm going to make a proposal.
Introduce a digital voice announcer system on all trains. At its most basic, it can be a cheap MP3 player hooked up to the PA, with each track manually selected by the guard (tracks organised by artist (line) and album (service). We need it, badly.
As for format, I would recommend it follow the most concise way of saying something (without becoming arcane or awkward). I draw my practices for Singapore, Hong Kong and London. For example:
Next stop: Lidcombe. Change here for the Bankstown line. This all-stops train terminates at Liverpool, via Regents Park.
Stopping patterns can be put on the passenger information display (PID) but current announcement practice regarding stopping pattern is extremely verbose and should be kept off the train DVA.
The other whinge I have is that the door closing announcement is completely wrongly done. It takes several seconds to tell everyone in English, "Doors closing - please stand clear."
It's much more efficient as well as understood by everyone if the doors simply had a shrill chime, like the one used on the Singapore MRT (which also has a short announcement before that, but that's redundant anyway).
This demonstrates the doors closing announcement. Take out the English part, and you have a nice warning tone. Keep the slight delay, though, for a bit of margin. This should at least halve the door closing time.