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Often, when getting the train to work in the morning, shortly before arriving at our terminus the conductor will announce "Good morning ladies and gentlemen, we will shortly be arriving into London Euston".

This sounds so wrong to me, but so many of the different conductors say it that I'm now starting to doubt myself.

Is what they're saying correct? As far as I'm concerned they should say "We will shortly be arriving at London Victoria".

I know that similar questions have been asked (e.g. When do we use "arrive at" versus "arrive in"?), but they don't deal with this specific usage of arriving at a train station.

  • Often-repeated phrases like announcements frequently contain old, novel, or otherwise odd turns of phrase which strike people as odd. This is normal. This is, in fact, one of the reasons they're used. They get people's attention. – John Lawler Feb 28 '14 at 17:13
  • I visited London not long ago, and was baffled to hear "Now calling at [station]." Made me feel I was going to be dropping in on someone for tea! – nxx Feb 28 '14 at 22:38
  • @nxx "Calling at" has been the way of saying "stopping at then passing through" on British railways from time immemorial. Essentially it distinguishes between stations on the route at which the train stops, stations it passes through without stopping and the station at which the service terminates.. – BoldBen Sep 20 at 0:32
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This seems to be the accepted railway jargon for main-line London stations (possibly other stations too). This is probably due to the fact that Euston, like Paddington, Kings Cross, Waterloo, Liverpool Street etc is an 'enclosed' station, which is a terminus.

Having said that, and not being a regular rail-user myself, I suspect that the idiom is employed elsewhere, for large city stations. I would be interested to know if it is used for stations which are not termini.

I'm not sure why but 'into Euston' seems to carry a more portentous significance than 'at Euston'.

  • Your answer cropped up after I had hit post. I think our takes are sufficiently different to allow both to stand. But, if you feel otherwise I'll delete mine. – David M Feb 28 '14 at 17:18
  • @DavidM Both seem fine to me; and are different angles to the same argument. – WS2 Feb 28 '14 at 17:54
  • Agreed. I will let it stand. – David M Feb 28 '14 at 18:09
  • Good answer! Now that you mention it, I notice that they only ever say this at the terminus, never at a station along the way. I wonder if, as you suggest, they feel that it carries more weight and signifies that the train has completed its journey. – Richiban Mar 1 '14 at 18:43
  • It's common with many stations in the UK, not just termini, and has been for several years. It irritates me every time I hear it. – tunny Nov 8 '14 at 19:19
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You are right; customarily we would arrive at the station or stop (at, as the station represents a point on the line), and arrive in a neighborhood, city, or larger area (in, since you are surrounded by it).

On the other hand, the action of travel lends itself to into, because you are physically entering something or somewhere:

  • I drive into town.
  • I walk into a restaurant.
  • I ride into the mountains.
  • I fly into an airport.
  • I pull into a driveway.

Where the mode of transportation is known, it would not surprise me that arrive gets substituted; the passengers on that train are not suddenly going to arrive by stagecoach, and the announcement needs to be clear that the train is in fact arriving somewhere, not for example stopping for a moment to let another train pass.

Besides, I could argue that arriving into is slightly different from arriving at. In the last minute or so before my train pulls up at Penn Station, I'm clearly inside the station— I can see the signs and people waiting on the platforms— but we haven't stopped and the doors haven't opened. We've arrived into the station, since we're inside of it now, but we haven't arrived at the station till we're at a fixed point.

  • To the last point, I could accept in; I don't think it contrasts with at; but I have problems with into. I'm biased because my native tongue uses in, however we differentiate between dativ and akkusative, which I think can be observed for the in/into distinction as well, sometimes; and I could accept into being a fossilized variant on grammatical grounds, of which I'm not quite sure. If -to in into corresponded to Ger in's (as if inz, viz t ~ z like tooth ~ Zahn), then in's Haus "[e.g. come] into the house" or im [in'm] Haus "[stay] in the house" compares well … – vectory Sep 19 at 23:18
  • … Now on the one hand one could argue about the lexical aspect of "arrive" and whether it fits better to an imperfective sense of "in"; or I could note, just because the observation was novel to me, that verbs with only one argument regularly command accusativ, e.g. "in's" (I probably misunderstood something, but it would be a point in case; most users can't read the ref in German, I'm affraid; I only note the potential external parallel, because your own attempt at an explanation looks no less helpless) – vectory Sep 19 at 23:25
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At is definitely the preferred form when describing approaching the platform itself (at least in AmE…).

But, as you are arriving into the station I don't think you can argue it semantically. You are literally heading into a structure.

Think of it as an extension of "What time does the train get in at the station?" You wouldn't find fault with that statement (at least I wouldn't). You see two different choices in that statement.

Hence, I think the chosen preposition is a bit fluid when it comes to train stations. You arrive at the platform but at or into the station.

  • 1
    This is especially true of a terminus structure with a train shed, where the train really is in the station. This is true of both Euston and Victoria. – TRiG Feb 28 '14 at 17:42
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On my train they say, 'We shall shortly be arriving at XXXXXX'

I would say, 'We shall shortly arrive at XXXXXX', from what I can remember in school 50 years ago, I think that be arriving is a participle. In simple terms - We shall arrive! The question, would be When? Reply - Shortly. Therefore linking Question with answer - We shall shortly arrive! Would you say, 'We shall be arriving'?

As for the use of at/in - I would say IN, we have, 'in the middle' and 'at the edge'. You could not reverse these and say at the middle and in the edge!! Unless the station was on the edge of town, which largely they are not, then it should be, 'We shall shortly arrive in XXXXXX'.

0

We use the verb arrive with at or in to talk about ‘coming to’, ‘getting to’ or ‘reaching’ a place where a journey ends. If we see the destination as a point, we say arrive at. If we see it as a larger area, we say arrive in: …

from Cambridge English Dictionary.

However, 'we' does not seem to include UK rail companies.

0

"Be arriving" means the subject is in the action of being there, while the sentence reads. The preposition "at" indicates a place and "to" indicates a movement. Past tense of this verb is set stone with "to, at or in", because there is no movement any more.

The present continuous form of the verb to arrive, "be arriving", may however imply that the subject of the sentence may be in movement to "be or arrive" there. Therefore, I believe, this becomes the point of dissent in how to interpret the present continuous with this verb and to decide what adjectives shall accompany.

If the meaning of arriving emphasises on reaching instead of being at a place, then I believe to or into befits rather well, as it reflects movement of the subject of concern. If the meaning of arriving emphasises rather on being at the place, then position prepositions would be the right choices. (But my experience of 20+ years of speaking English still beckons whether I have ever heard I am arriving to mean I am just standing/being there, after reaching there.)

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'Arriving into'is used at all UK railway stations and by airlines, I shudder and mutter 'arriving at', it sounds as if we are hitting the destination rather hard and embedding ourselves in it. It seems like the announcers are trying to sound more official by using a long phrase, when a simple phrase would be more correct.

To add substance to my earlier post, 'arrive' is defined as to reach a destination, it implies finality. 'Into' is defined as a position within, and implies motion. One can go into, or come into, but 'arrive into' is self contradiction, it is an inappropriate preposition and verb combination. I support the views expressed in the original question, both from a reason of grammar, and from personal experience. 'Arrive into' was not used on public transport until the 1980s, I don't have a reference for this, but my memory suggests it is so. It is intriguing to discover how it came about, it has certainly become commonplace in the UK.

  • 1
    Hi, Dave, and welcome to ELU. While this reflects your valid feelings about the phrase, citing a reference to support your position would make this a better answer. Otherwise this can be seen as just your opinion, and we try to give answers with some kind of authoritative reference here. Since you're here, please have a look at the site tour and visit the help center for guidance on how to use this site. Again, welcome! – anongoodnurse Nov 8 '14 at 22:09
  • Also, it looks like you may have accidentally created two accounts. You can get them merged by contacting Stack Exchange. – Andrew Leach Nov 9 '14 at 18:23

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