Stop: “Station Calling Point”?

In pursuit of unambiguous on-train announcements, train crews seem to have coined the cumbersome expression “Station Calling Point” or “Scheduled Station Stop”. As in, “Stevenage is the next Station Calling Point for this service”.

I understand that plain old “Stop” just won’t do, because trains can (and frequently do) stop at places other than stations. I’m sure train staff got sick of people saying “Ha, you said the next stop was Peterborough – but look, we’re not in Peterborough and we’ve stopped”. So, “Station Stop” is safer for on-train announcers, but there’s still the chance that your train glides to a halt whilst in an intermediate station at which you can’t alight. Which brings us to “Station Calling Point” or “Scheduled Station Stop”, both of which pretty much nail the intended meaning – albeit at the expense of brevity. Thank heavens lucky travellers, just because the instantaneous speed of your journey may at some points be zero, your obliging train staff have enhanced their terminology to reflect this transitory discontinuity.

But hang on a minute, isn’t there already a perfectly good word they could use instead? One that predates the train and has stood the test of time: “Port”. The same length as the word “Stop”, with all the right embark/alight meaning, but without the oh-so-confusing speed-related ambiguity. “Stevenage is the next Port for this service” – you never know, brevity might just win out. Pass the Port…

Update 7/7/2010: My train has stopped at Alexandra Palace. A stop. A station stop. But not a scheduled station stop. Phew!

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