Thursday, 3 November 2016

Slow TV: Train journeys, Mental Health and Mindfulness

Virgin Trains have launched a Slow-TV-style service. Instead of Slow TV being just about a train, you can watch it ON a train. Furthermore, you can even watch a train journey ON a train journey. Even during the 2011 5-day-broadcast of the Norwegian ferry service 'Hurtigruten' passengers found themselves watching the broadcast of the vessel they were onboard.

Potential for an application of the effects of Slow TV has been evident since it started, in that it can bring the viewer to the very focussed here-and-now; if you've ever done meditation, counselling or therapy, you'll likely know this as 'midnfulness'. 

The Norwegian Slow TV original isn't designed to evoke mindfulness - it's designed to be a story shown on TV, a broadcast-event - but mindfulness happens as a very organic by-product of a long broadcast with a relaxed editing pace.

Of course British Airways purchased the rights to the film of the Bergen to Oslo Norwegian train journey for use on selected long-haul flights, back in the summer of 2014, as way of calming passengers who opt to view the film into their journey after the rigmarole of checking-in, security or even just flight-nerves. This, though, is the first deliberate production to evoke calmness on a journey.

Their press release reads:


  • First travel company in the world to launch dedicated mindfulness channel to mark World Mental Health Day on 10th October 2016
  • The channel features exclusive meditative videos and ‘real time’ footage of the West Coast and East Coast routes
  • The content is available exclusively on Virgin Trains on-board entertainment system, BEAM
To mark World Mental Health Day, Virgin Trains has worked alongside the Mental Health Foundation to become the world’s first travel company to launch a dedicated channel promoting positive mental health.
The new ‘Be Mindful’ channel showcases the UK’s first real-time video of a train journey, taking a cue from the Scandinavian trend for ‘slow television’. It also features six specially shot videos of calming locations from across the UK including St Margaret’s Loch, Lake Windermere, the Yorkshire Dales and Loch Lomond.
The mindfulness channel has been curated to inspire a more relaxed and positive state of mind for travellers across its entire routes, and has launched exclusively on BEAM, Virgin Trains’ complimentary on-board content platform.
The real-time, slow films have been filmed from the driver’s cab, running at over four hours in each direction. The West Coast route films run between London Euston and Glasgow Central, whilst the East Coast route runs between London King’s Cross and Edinburgh Waverley.
The six meditative films focus on areas of outstanding natural beauty as chosen by Virgin Trains staff, and will aid passengers to relax and unwind, whether they’re on a short journey or travelling the whole route. The six locations are St Margaret’s Loch, the Yorkshire Dales and Berwick-Upon-Tweed on its East Coast route, and Alderley Edge, Lake Windermere and Loch Lomond across the West Coast.
Patrick McCall, Co-Chairman for Virgin Trains, said, “We know a lot of our customers lead busy and stressful lives, so we wanted to launch an exclusive channel to make their journeys an even more positive and relaxed experience. Here at Virgin Trains we pride ourselves on continuously improving our customers’ on-board experience and that includes their positive mental health. Teaming up with the Mental Health Foundation, we’ve worked hard to curate a fantastic range of mindful content for our customers to enjoy.”
Mark Rowland, Director of Fundraising and Communications for Mental Health Foundation, said, “We’re delighted to be working with Virgin Trains to launch the world’s first mindfulness channel on-board. A train journey can be a great time for reflection – a perfect excuse to dedicate some time to yourself, disconnecting from the pressures of modern life and taking a step towards becoming more mindful. We want this to be the first step in equipping Virgin Trains’ customers with the tools to manage their mental health and wellbeing successfully.”
The ‘Be Mindful’ channel is available exclusively on BEAM across both the east coast and west coast routes.  "
The Mental Health Foundation is the official charity partner for Virgin Trains West Coast in 2016 and 2017.
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