This announcement always irks me. “To ensure a timely departure, train doors will shut 40 seconds before departure.” It reminds me of what a senior Network Rail manager once said to me, that railways are great at treating their customers as if they are in the wrong.

This forty seconds buffer gives time to deal with any problems at the event horizon of the doors closing. But why does this 40 seconds have to come out of the passengers’ time, the free morning they had before they boarded the train rather than from the train company’s time, the schedule.

A different way to ensure a timely departure is to build into the schedule time for dealing with delays at the doors. This way, to ensure a timely departure, trains would depart 40 seconds after the scheduled departure time. This system wouldn’t even need an announcement. And if there we no delay, the train would arrive 40 seconds early at the destination. Even better.

I get that the train needs to leave on time, not least of all for the people already onboard. That’s about building in a buffer. But why penalise the passengers to create it and send a signal to them that they are in the wrong? Build the buffer into the schedule, and if it isn’t used the train can arrive early at the next station and passengers there will h