back to article Mobile blocking tech for trains

Train operator C2C, master of the Shoeburyness line and spawn of National Express coaches, is to fit mobe-blocking film to train windows in an attempt to force passengers into respecting quiet zones. The first carriage sporting the film is about to enter service as a trial run, and bold signs will inform passengers that their …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    oh yeah?

    Train companies talked about this years ago and nothing ever came of it.

  2. Jamie Kitson

    Already Done?

    I heard about this quite a long time ago, the funny thing being that Virgin had fitted the same film to their windows to block real (sound) noise without being aware of the effect it would have on their business customers' phones.

  3. Tim Hughes
    Thumb Up

    ... and those bl**dy announcements, too

    a mute button for the monotonous spew of garbage from the synthesised voice in the ceiling would make things perfect.

    Surely the only thing necessary during normal operation is the name of the next station, announced as it approaches.

  4. This post has been deleted by its author

  5. TeeCee Gold badge


    " one dies as a result of being unable to make a mobile call....."

    Have we really got the stage where we anticipate that in such a situation *nobody* in the carriage will have the intelligence to step into an adjacent one to make the necessary call?

    It seems so.

    Altogether now: Baaaaaaa!

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I remember a news story a while ago where a theatre owner wanting to install shielding for his auditorium and he'd been told that it was illegal.

  7. Terry
    Thumb Down

    Mr sledgehammer, meet Mr nut.

    The trouble with this is that I, and I suspect many others, who wish to use a laptop with 3G dongle when travelling make a bee-line for the quiet carriage in the hope of being able to do some work in peace. Still, if they were serious about making the "quiet" carriages quiet they would mute the incessant loud announcements telling you where the train is, which is the next stop, where the buffet car is etc.

  8. Jimmy Floyd

    "WiFi will be blocked"

    WiFi from where, exactly? A bloke running alongside the train with a wireless router and a 50km length of Ethernet?!?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @A/C theatre owner wanting to install shielding

    He proberly wanted to install a jammer. Different beast.


  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Would be good

    However, it's really only people talking incessantly loudly on their mobiles that really bother me. If people want to use Wi-Fi or 3G then they should be able to.

    You can mostly avoid the quiet carriages, which avoids this problem; however, if the train's full or you've been reserved random seats online then you can't really avoid it.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters


    you get one of those portable mobe jammers

    Illegal I know, but great fun if nothing else...

    I think I hear a helicopter.....

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Silly question really but....

    won't this film make it more difficult to break the window and get out in the case of an emergency/crash? I mean it's what they do to stop flying glass after a bomb blast, a plastic film over the window, isn't it?

    Mind you the little hammer could then be replaced with something to render the noisy children compliant and quiet!

  13. JakeyC

    Quiet AND WI-FI enabled?

    The quiet carriage (when it is observed) is fantastic and makes the journey so much more pleasant. Any measures to prevent the ignorant shits who aren't capable of just turning their phone to silent and not answering it from being able to piss me off are welcome.

    However, since the introduction of free WI-FI on NXEC it would be a shame to have to choose between sitting quietly and doing nothing or tying to go online surrounded by twattering chats.

  14. Mat Diss
    Thumb Down

    Who needs special technology

    I use Orange which seems to be effectively blocked in most places anyway.....

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Erm, this plan is flawed

    Firstly, blocking mobe reception will do sod-all to stop the tw*ts with iPods etc who still don't understand that they need sound-isolating 'phones otherwise they 'share' their music with everyone else.

    Secondly, I read the news and browse the web on my PDA phone the whole way home on the train. My phone is totally silent, but this move would mean I'd have to move to a noisy carriage.

    And third (and most important) most people DGAS about the 'silent' stickers on the window - the trains are so overcrowded they'll just get on whereever they can. Make the capacity on the trains big enough so that I can choose where I want to sit; otherwise I'll sit where I can, and talk (on the phone or to my mates) and screw the rest of you. ;)

  16. William Towle

    Re: Pah.

    <quote>" one dies as a result of being unable to make a mobile call....."

    Have we really got the stage where we anticipate that in such a situation *nobody* in the carriage will have the intelligence to step into an adjacent one to make the necessary call?</quote>

    [envisions terrible emergency] ...what other carriage?

    // that's me on a downer for the rest of the day now, thanks for that.

  17. Andy
    Thumb Up

    how about some EMP device..

    that kills schoolkids mobiles. stops them spouting "choons" at distorting volume from its speaker? speaker phone for music playback. who the eff thought that was a good idea?there's a godd damn hanging offence right there.

    and lets face it,

    bloke phone call "hi honey, i'll be at the station in 25 minutes, any chance of a lift? ..... thanks babe, bye."

    female phone call "so this morning, i got up, had a piece of toast, blah blah blah and can you belive what happened in <insert soap opera here>..... etc etc etc...." 20-45 minutes of big brother/corry/enders mindless pants.

    i'm getting one of those pocket sized quad band mobile phone jammers imported from the states. cos lets face it, after a 12hour shift at the coal face, i, and all my other fellow commuters hate you, the phone abuser, more than you could ever imagine.

    do it. quiet means _quiet_.

    oh and as for wifi, it does happen. usually when the train is stuck somewhere. usually outside brentwood on my line. there is an unsecured belkin router there that works a treat.

  18. Anonymous Coward

    And all because...

    ... they want to stop the endless hordes of "I'm stuck on the train" messages on Twitter!

  19. Tanuki

    The Sound of Silence.

    I wonder if this "mobe blocking film" could be supplied from in-carriage dispensers? Then I could use strips of it to silence the child which inevitably occupies the seat behind me in the quiet carriage and screams/whimpers throughout the journey.

  20. Edward Clarke

    Civilization Saved!

    "Now if they could only find a way to automatically silence the children running up and down the aisle then technology would surely have solved the problems of civilisation."

    Two words: "Ball Gag".

  21. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: how about some EMP device..

    Andy, you are a terrible pig. I've heard men drone on for hours about nothing of consequence whatsoever on their phones on trains. Behave.

  22. Cris

    Train Blocking Technology

    Will they also devise "Blocking Technology" for your seat to prevent people jumping in when you are out of the carriage?

  23. Lloyd


    For those inclined you can always get a phone jammer (3G, GSM and DCS), illegal yes, but very handy when some crunt decides to mouth off to all and sundry in the quiet carriage. Not of course that I would ever condone such behaviour.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    now if virgin could...

    ...electrify the disabled alarm button in the toilet to ensure those who press it do so only for a good reason. It's the second most annoying thing about virgin trains (the first being stuck the wrong side of rugby due to the world's longest station overhaul, or being forced to get the bus from crewe to liverpool for no apparent reason).

  25. Terry
    Thumb Down

    SB: 12.38

    "I've heard men drone on for hours ..."

    The exception that proves the rule?

  26. Jimmy Floyd

    @Sarah Bee

    Probably speaking to their girlfriend... :-)

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns


    This is a great idea, now if those people that like to use their laptops in the quite zone could only figure out how to turn the sounds off so you don't get a chorus of windows start up music at every stop.

  28. Wize

    More annoying things on a train than phones ringing.

    There are more things to think of than someone on the phone.

    Like people with loud 'personal' stereos. Although the current trend is to play your MP3s via your speakers.

    Electronic games with loud beeps.

    People constantly sniffing (and not a little sniff, its the ones that sound like they have some bone in them. Come on, blow your nose).

    Screaming kids

    Arguments and fights (I travelled using C2C for a while. The fights are more regular than the trains)

    Not to mention the new trains have aircon instead of windows. Which isn't good when the aircon breaks on a hot day.

    And what do you do in an emergency? Can't call for help if you are trapped in one by some nutter.

  29. gpvos


    OK, so you can't use Internet from your laptop anymore in a quiet carriage. Great.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Am I the last one that does this?

    I'll quite often be talking to someone on the platform on my phone, and then when the train arrives, I say "Gotta go, my train is here", hang up and not use my phone on the train. If I recieve a call, I keep it quiet and short.

    What it comes down to is that if everyone was just like me we wouldn't need Quiet carriages or window shielding, although it would mean we had some *pretty* ugly women.

  31. David Harper

    C2C don't have loud announcements

    They have scrolling message screens telling you what the next station is. The only announcements are from the driver telling you what the latest delay has been caused by.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    We don't need this

    I often travel in the quiet carriage on First Great Western and for some reason it seems to be self policing on the services I use. On a few occasions I've seen someone answer a call and a fellow passenger remind them what carriage they're in, in each case the person with the phone sheepishly left the carriage or ended the call. Very civil!

    Also, I use my phone to read news and email and occasionally do heavier work on a laptop with 3G connection, I would be most unhappy if that didn't work.

    Finally, Cross Country trains already have solar film fitted in all carriages which means you have an atrocious signal throughout the train (apart from Orange who I believe have some kind of hardware fitted to the trains), I would hate to see this become wide-spread.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: laptops

    I'm sometimes guilty of the blaring Windows start-up theme on the train, simply because the volume can only be set in software (which of course isn't an option until Windows has booted). I really wish laptops all had hardware volume controls like the Toshiba I'm using now.

  34. Eponymous Cowherd
    Thumb Up

    Re:More annoying things on a train than phones ringing.


    Phone calls last a few minutes. The constant "tsk tsk tsk tik bip bip eek eek" from over-loud mp3 players is constant and induces homicidal tendencies.

    I'd add 'fat bastards' to that list too. I'm entitled to the whole of my seat, not merely the 2/3rds that's left after some obese pie-muncher sits next to me.

  35. P. J. Isserlis

    Second the anti-not-so-personal music players

    Personal musc players: the wretched things seem to be so loud I can only assume the owners have been deafened and so need them ever louder. Used to travel an hour every day each way and was often reduced to changing carriages in the morning to avoid one (middle-aged) regular whose noise could be heard the length of the carriage. And why is it that the culprits seem always to have such abominable taste or lack of it in "music"?

    I have another gripe against those who feel they must open their laptops on the train: they grap any availabe table space if there is one and seem to expand sideways to accommodate the computer. In the restaurant carriage they plonk it on the table, taking up my portion too. Can't these nerds prepare for work with some back-ground reading, writing notes on paper or just thinking? Should they be reading confidential spreadsheets and writing work correspondence in public? Or are they all civil servants busy practising open government with my private details?

    As for that idiot who can not stay quiet in silent carriages out of spite that the others were full, seems to show nicely just the idiotic thinking and selfishness that necessitates them in the first place. Just give your voice a rest for a while.

  36. Jeremy

    @JakeyC, wifi on trains...

    Given the comment above about the bloke running alongside the train with a router and a lot of ethernet cable, where do you suppose the signals for the free wifi originate? Inside the train perhaps?

    Given that it presumably works, even with a unshielded 25KV cable a few feet above your head, I don't think you need to be worried about a little bit of film on the outside of the window stopping on-train wifi, were C2C to ever provide it.

  37. Anonymous Coward

    Give the staff tasers

    Taser anyone using a phone, mp3 player or generally making a noise in the quiet zone, then throw them off the train (no need to wait till the train stops)

  38. Rob

    If you want quiet, internet access has to go too

    Crackberry addict or smartphone user would only then switch to using VoIP via a net connection.

    You'd be amazed how staring at someone using their phone or playing their music loudly will make them stop. I mean stare at them to the point where they are uncomfortable and they think your a nutter, 9 times out of 10 they move or shut up (just make sure your not staring at a bald guy with a swastica though, bit of common sense is needed.

  39. Matt Kimber

    Quiet carriage?

    I've always found the quiet carriage the worst of the lot for having any chance of getting some peace. There's something about the little sign on the window saying "no mobiles, personal stereos" that seems to trigger off some people to want to close that important paperclip sales deal, join a conference call, remind all their friends that they're getting lashed tonight, and if it's a particularly long journey start enumerating shopping lists to their hapless wives* over the air.

    All we need to do is enact a pointless NuLab law (c'mon, another won't hurt, we've got like 3,000 of the things) legalising the wanton and furious tasering of anyone who makes an inconsiderate, avoidable noise in a public place. It would make public transport at least more entertaining, if not more pleasant into the bargain.

    * - one assumes the hapless wife spends most of this call dreaming of the milkman.

  40. Monkey

    Most annoying things on trains 2

    Seats in the cycle, wheel chair and push chair sections. They might be fold up but you try getting your pig ignorant commuter in his or her suit to shift out of the fucking way, no matter how polite you are.

  41. Phil Endecott

    Impersonal stereos

    Imagine sneaking up to some snoozing yoof with impersonal iPod with a pair of snips, and quickly cutting through the headphone wire at about neck height.

    This thought first occurred to me some years ago on a train, and since then it pops into my mind every time. It's like an annoying tune that you can't get rid of. I have to be careful to make sure that I don't accidentally actually bring any wire cutters or scissors with my when I'm travelling.

    Changing the subject, Virgin trains all seem to have some sort of RF-blocking window film already; it's not strong enough to block mobiles but it does stop my GPS from working.

  42. Timo
    Thumb Up


    So people that do try to get calls out (or more likely people that receive calls while on the train) will shout to try to overcompensate for the crap reception. CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW!? I DON'T KNOW WHAT IS WRONG WITH MY PHONE. BLAH BLAH BLAH. I'M ON THE TRAIN! WHAT!?? ARE YOU THERE?

    Seems brilliant to me. I swear some people yell so much into their phones that the person on the other end would be able to hear them without any phone at all.

  43. Steve
    Thumb Up

    Great Idea, we need this everywhere

    Hopefully it will also get rid of the sales droids who have their meetings in the quiet carriage, and the people with laptops going tap-tap-tap for hours while I'm reading my book!

    @ Timo yes I've seen these people, the way I understand it is they are unaware of amplification and volume limiting in electronic devices.

  44. Tom Ranson

    Emergency calls?

    Emergency calls?

  45. Alan Esworthy
    Paris Hilton

    @Edward Clarke with the ball gag

    The gag will only muffle them a bit. If you don't have the entire body harness, buckles and all, then just give the little bastards a tube of Super Glue or two. They will then soon become much less active.

    Now, ball gag *and* super glue...!

    Why Paris? She's the favorite El Reg ball gag, of course.

  46. Jeremy
    Paris Hilton

    @Tom Ranson...

    Move... Into... Another... Carriage!!!

    <~~ Because she wouldn't be able to work that out either.

  47. Anonymous Coward

    What about me

    So us chaps who already respect these things by sticking our fones on silent/vibrate and use our laptops (HSDPA enabled) with the speakers on mute can do what... feck off into the noisy buggers carriage? The whole reason we sit in quiet ones is so we can concentrate on some work. Although I do admit, them noisy newspapers are as annoying as those that think the keyboards need hitting rather than a near silent touching. <grrr>

    If we have to sit in the noisy carriages.. then one has to ask if the quiet carriages are actually any different from the old sleepers? Bring back the sleepers and stick them in a Faraday cage instead!

    Personally I will peel the film from the windows so I can work - feck em.

  48. Nano nano

    Rather than blocking ...

    You must have seen those novelty gadgets that flash when your mobile rings ... or logs onto a cell ?

    Anyhow you could have a more nanny-like version built into the train seats, flashing up the message, "YOU APPEAR TO BE MAKING A PHONE CALL - PLEASE LEAVE THE QUIET CARRIAGE TO CONTINUE - THE GUARD WILL BE ALERTED IN 30 SECONDS ..."

  49. mh.


    Trains do have a emergency alarm or an intercom so you can speak to the driver. One time I was on a train when someone had a heart attack just as we left Peterborough and we stopped pretty sharpish.

    For dealing with families, I like the idea of having family carriages on trains. Allocate groups booking child fares reserved seats there first, and have a few toys and child friendly decorations to attract people without reservations. You could extend this idea and have a business carriage with plenty of sockets for chargers and more tables for people who want to have meetings. It would also be good for ogling people's laptop screens as you're walking to the buffet if you're feeling nosy (I deliberately only do work with pen and paper if I'm travelling for this reason). Doing this kind of thing means that people without kids or an urgent need to spend time with Powerpoint have an idea which carriages to avoid. Something else I'd like to see is bike racks that cannot be used for luggage or pushchairs.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Impersonal stereos

    "Imagine sneaking up to some snoozing yoof with impersonal iPod with a pair of snips, and quickly cutting through the headphone wire at about neck height."

    Did something similar once - my step-daughter wouldn't turn her stereo down during dinner, so I whipped out the side-cutters, amputated the mains plug and then buggered off to a meeting for the evening.

    The only defect with this otherwise quick and effective action was that the task of replacing the plug at a later date was something I was lumbered with.

  51. Elrond Hubbard

    Illegal in Oz

    Interestingly, this would be federally illegal in Australia. More's the pity, I've been wanting something like this for theatres for years, but one problem is making sure doctors' pagers still work.

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And who says we get a choice of carriage?

    Usually when travelling in cattle class at rush hour, you tend not to get a choice of carriage, so what about those that do need/want to use phones and related technology?

    Nice idea in theory, but there other other places that have a more pressing need for such blocking technology, where it is obvious phones shouldn't be used, such as in cinemas.

    Nothing irks me more than people who play with their phones in the cinema, or have them go off.

  53. Scott Mckenzie


    Just travel first class, you get a much higher class of person when they're not poor.

  54. It wasnt me


    Have I stepped into the wrong room. Is this the carriage for grumpy old men ?

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Terry - "The exception that proves the rule?..."

    SB: "I've heard men drone on for hours ..."

    Terry: "The exception that proves the rule?..."


    Bear in mind that this saying dates from a time when the meaning of the word "prove" was somewhat different.

    The archaic meaning of "prove" is more akin to "test" or "examine"...

    Wierd how meanings change over time ain't it? Someone, Robert Hooke IIRC, described the (recently developed) slide rule he'd been given as "very nice and pretty for all kinds of calculations".

    Translated into 21st century English, he would have said it was very exact (nice) and artfully constructed (pretty)...

  56. Tim J

    There's no WiFi on c2c trains

    "...Wi-Fi will be blocked..." said the article.

    ??? said readers of the Reg.

    The only WiFi service one is ever going to make use of on a train is that which is intentionally provided by the train company (unless your train has broken down within range of an accessible WiFi network, i.e. outside a house or office that has an unsecured wireless network).

    It would of course be rather nonsensical for c2c to provide an on-board WiFi service and then block it from penetrating their Quiet carriages through the windows. It would I suppose just about make sense for them to block WiFi signals penetrating their Quiet carriages from adjacent WiFi-enabled carriages, working on the logic that the tappity tap of keyboards is noisy and hence too loud for their Quiet carriages.

    Anyway, this is all rather hypothetical as c2c doesn't provide an on-board WiFi service on their trains. They had a trial last year to assess the potential demand for such a service, but as nothing has yet come of it I dare say that they decided there wasn't enough of a market for it.

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