Search icon


14th May 2021

Train company apologises after conductor said ‘good afternoon ladies and gentlemen’

Charlie Herbert

A non-binary passenger complained about the use of the phrase.

London North Eastern Railway has apologised after one of its conductors greeted passengers by saying “good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls.”

A rail workers’ union rep who was on the train and identifies as non-binary complained on Twitter about the use of the phrase.

The Mail reports that the passenger, who goes by the name of Laurence, said on Twitter: “Train managers should not be using language like this.”

They stated that they represent the Rail, Maritime and Transport trade union.

In the tweet, Laurence said: “‘Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls…’ so as a non binary person this announcement doesn’t actually apply to me so I won’t listen @LNER.”

A representative of the train company replied: “I’m really sorry to see this, Laurence, our Train Managers should not be using language like this, and I thank you for bringing it to my attention.

“Please could you let me know which service you are on and I will ensure they remain as inclusive as we strive to be at LNER.”

This then sparked a civil, balanced and calm debate from others on the platform.

Only joking, this is Twitter after all, so it was a fierce and heated argument over whether “language like this” should be banned by companies.

A colleague of Laurence wrote: “Both Laurence and I were customers of the railway – being rail staff does not absolve an operator from the duty of care or responsibility to be inclusive.

“I was sat with Laurence when this tweet was sent. Both of us are non-binary and we were both alarmed and uncomfortable by the lack of inclusion.”

But many criticised LNER for their apology and said that nothing was wrong with the friendly greeting, including a Tory MP.

Mark Jenkinson, the Conservative MP for Workington, said: “You’d be forgiven for thinking this Train Manager had unleashed a tirade of abuse.

“‘Should not be using language like this.’ He’d actually said ‘Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls.’

“Identify however you like, but can we stop this nonsense?”

Columnist Paul Embery added: “Utterly ridiculous. Do you have any idea how this kind of thing comes across to ordinary people?”

Another Twitter user added: “Both WORK for the rail system… but they ‘won’t’ listen to train announcements that don’t ‘apply’ to them?

“This isn’t a ‘customer complaint’ from a member of the general public — it’s two transport EMPLOYEES pushing their own agenda.”

And of course you won’t be surprised to hear that Julia Hartley-Brewer stuck her nose in, furiously demanding that the train company “stop pandering to this nonsense.”

LNER have responded to the criticism, confirming that member of staff was in no trouble, and making the extremely valid point that there is nothing wrong with trying to be more inclusive and accommodating for all.

LNER said: “We’re not bending over backward to accommodate any one person, we’re doing our best to accommodate every person. There’s the difference.”

A spokesperson for the company also told the Mail: “We are committed to diversity and inclusion in all that we do for our customers, colleagues and communities, and encourage our onboard teams to welcome all customers onboard.

“Our policies and procedures are reviewed regularly and we will review if any further changes need to be made.”