How not to break bad news

Dear Thameslink,

The first rule of breaking bad news? Don’t pretend the bad news is good news.

Let’s take these posters you’ve put up around central London:

Thameslink transformation

You see, I don’t need to check before I travel to know what your oblique yet self-congratulatory blurbage about “changing to deliver transformation” is really getting at.

Namely, that the Thameslink programme is, indeed, “transforming” North-South travel through London. With four years of cancelled trains, closed platforms and, as your website puts it, the “retiming of certain route services” (aka, late trains).

But I went to your website anyway. Only to read more chest-beaty references to “transformation” (surely the second-most annoyingly upbeat cliché of the corporate lexicon after “sustainability”):


The typo gave me a laugh. But your trying to tell me how clever and hard working you are doesn’t make me feel any better about the fact that for the next four years, the trains are screwed.

Best wishes

A London commuter

3 comments so far . . . come and pitch in!

  1. It’s interesting that you can do this kind of positive marketing of bad news in a much better way. Recently a local street was blocked off for 18 months while an entire sewer was replaced. The water company billboards’ message was “Replacing a 150 year old sewer is a really big job and can’t be done quickly – we know it’s a pain for you and we’re sorry – but the end result will be better for everyone”

    Had Thameslink offered a similar message, I’m willing to bet that most commuters would have grudgingly accepted the inconvenience

  2. Give them a break Clare, they’re doing all this transformation without once telling us they’re innovating.

    Anyway, I’m off to London Bridge, I’ve always been partial to a nice busty station.

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