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Author Topic: Readability of rail information  (Read 1594 times)
grahame
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« on: May 24, 2018, 08:49:04 am »

I opened a rail-related document (data collected from a survey of community engagement in railway buildings) a few minutes ago and struggled to understand the foreword - so put it through some readability tests

http://www.readabilityformulas.com/freetests/six-readability-formulas.php

Result:



Oops.

Or is it "oops"?  It could be argued that the document concerned was a technical piece intended only for those with a high level of education and ability to understand, and so was correctly pitched.  That suggestion is somewhat given lie to by the next section (the introduction) being much easier to understand, and the included data having some real gems in it - worth a read (and probably comment in another thread).

QUESTION for members - do you have examples of good and bad writing in transport industry documents?
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grahame
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« Reply #1 on: May 24, 2018, 08:53:07 am »

QUESTION for members - do you have examples of good and bad writing in transport industry documents?

P.S. Yes - I am aware that some of my posts are a bit [British Understatement] hard to read ...
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CJB666
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« Reply #2 on: May 24, 2018, 09:17:13 pm »

Bad - VERY BAD - PhD level ... the GRW / NR engineering works maps and descriptions on display at local stations such as Hayes, Southall, West Drayton, etc. They are the most obscure I've ever seen - with weird colour coding and shading on maps, use of obscure meaningless symbols, and references to short statements of outages such a 2a, 2b, 2c, etc., all referring to different days or date ranges. I've spent ages just trying to work out iif they have trains to / from Reading and Hayes during the next May Bank Holiday.
« Last Edit: May 25, 2018, 07:41:04 am by CJB666 » Logged
eightonedee
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« Reply #3 on: May 27, 2018, 10:11:59 pm »

Can I add three nominations? It's not just the clarity of language that is a problem.

The first are two sections of the current timetable T10 covering evening trains from London out to Didcot, and morning trains in from Didcot on weekdays. The problem is firstly that some **** at GWR has to run together what should sensibly be two pocket timetables - one for stopping trains from Reading to Didcot, another for stopping trains east of Reading. Secondly is the confusing mix of stopping patterns on the current electric services between Didcot and Paddington, with trains passing one another between Reading and Paddington. This results in trains flitting between columns and pages, making it difficult to follow which train will arrive first at Paddington (in the morning) or back home (in the evening).

Dear GWR - just because the nice new Electrostars can only run as far as Didcot does not mean that it is sensible to produce timetables covering all their routes. Instead please recognise that the Didcot to Tilehurst passengers primarily travel to Reading and London - a separate timetable for us (or perhaps just adding any missing services to T8, and removing the "Oxford Canal Line" marketing tag) would be much more useful.

Secondly, a special prize for the old FGW website, and its enigmatic tab "Your Journey" - what on earth did that mean? Although the current GWR one is a little better, it is still not easy to find (for example) the timetables.

Thirdly the appalling signage at the new Reading station - here the problems are manifold - poor positioning, lighting and inadequate signs at key points. However I think the worst are the signs stuck on the side of each staircase with a lift symbol and an arrow pointing upwards, which results in most strangers with luggage struggling up escalators rather then going behind the escalator to find the lifts.
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grahame
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« Reply #4 on: May 31, 2018, 08:14:47 am »

Can I add three nominations? It's not just the clarity of language that is a problem.

Timetable production for all flows is a massive problem ... and timetable production and checking is a long process that's not as easy to automate as you might think.  As we move to a more on-line system, steps have been taken to reduce the production cost of printed and pre formatted material and (?) move some of (?) the savings into dynamic online stuff such as personalised timetables where, I am told, you will see more availability in the future.
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