Stop gap: LNER 800 series trains, known as Azuma, at Leeds station
Stop gap: LNER 800 series trains, known as Azuma, at Leeds station
Simon Calder

A train company has apologised to a non-binary passenger for using “ladies and gentlemen” in a train announcement.

Writing on Twitter, London North Eastern Railway apologised after Laurence Coles, who is a train guard but was a passenger at the time, complained that saying “Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls” didn’t “apply” to them.

It comes after Coles tweeted about their experience. Meanwhile, their friend Charlotte Monroe, also a railway employee, tweeted to say they were “alarmed and uncomfortable by the lack of inclusion.”

In a statement the company said its conductors will be warned to stop using the phrase “Ladies and gentlemen”. They confirmed that the use of the phrase would be reviewed, adding it was “committed to diversity and inclusion in all that we do for our customers, colleagues and communities”.

But the issue has led to backlash from the usual suspects. Bored without a mayoral campaign to run, Laurence Fox said it was “an assault on language”.

While radio host Julia Hartley-Brewer said it was “nonsense”.

She added: “Surely if Laurence is non-binary then Laurence is both a boy *and* and girl so got a double mention, in which case surely Laurence should be delighted to get so much special attention. Which is clearly what Laurence desperately craves.”

They both faced a backlash:

Monroe added on Twitter: “We (that is, railway staff in general) have a duty of care to all of our passengers.

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

“Raising awareness of issues *is* educating – we shouldn’t be having these conversations behind closed doors.”

They are not wrong.

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