Can you get tone of voice on everyone’s to-do list?

Tone of voice and training for Network Rail

Bovine incursion. Leaf fall. Points failure.


Network Rail have a language problem.

And it goes much deeper than those three examples. When you start digging, you find phrases like ‘cyclic tops’, ‘possession overruns’, ‘LOMs’ and ‘MOMs’, ‘TOCs’, ‘FOCs’ and ‘NOCs’.

It’s a different language. One that alienates new employees and makes passengers confused and angry.

Our brief was to help them… change track.

To help them stop speaking Railese, and start to speak passenger instead. And that’s exactly what we called the programme: Speak Passenger.

We knew the phrase ‘tone of voice’ would be an instant turn-off. And we also knew every single person’s objectives were shaped by a big internal campaign called Putting Passengers First. So by lining up with that, we Trojan horsed our way into everyone’s annual objectives. What better way to get tone of voice on everyone’s to-do list?


When we rewrote one sign to get people to check before they travel, 34% more of them said they would, and 52% more said Network Rail cares about passengers.

Oh, and it was such a big change, we won gold at the Transform Awards. But we don’t like to mention it.

“Definition go bigger than your average agency. Speak Passenger isn’t a tone of voice. It’s a culture change, and one we’ve needed for years. The research we’ve done proves it works, and it’s now a vital factor in helping Network Rail make a long-awaited shift towards putting passengers first.”

Davinia White, senior brand manager, Network Rail

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