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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 March, 2005, 16:43 GMT
Are mobiles on the Tube a good idea?
London Underground passengers
Tube passengers may soon be able to use their mobiles
London mayor Ken Livingstone has announced plans for new technology which will allow passengers to use their mobile telephones on London Underground by 2008.

The decision has sparked heavy criticism and raised concerns that the transmitters will help enable terrorists to carry out attacks.

But some passengers welcome the convenience the move will bring, especially as they will be able to receive travel updates on their mobile phones and lap-tops.

Do you think mobile services should be extended to the Tube? Will mobiles on the Underground lead to an invasion of personal space or make London more dangerous?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.


The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

Surely if the tube is running correctly then there is less of a need for mobile connections?
Anna Charlton, London
This would be way down the list on my priorities for LU. More important is sorting out all the signalling failures and getting some cooling system in place. Also it would be nice for an increase in price to be reciprocated with an increase in the standard of service. Surely if the tube is running correctly then there is less of a need for mobile connections?
Anna Charlton, London

I commute to work on the German Tube system every day. There is CCTV, an intercom service and emergency buttons, so feeling safe is not an issue. Mobile phones are an infernal nuisance. Some bus and Tube routes do forbid the use of mobiles as they interfere with the driver's radio, but still there are some idiots who use their phone just to let "Stan" and the rest of the bus know he will arrive in 10 minutes. It really gets on one's nerves - as you will soon find out!
Wraye, Bonn, Germany

On the one hand "please God, no, it's a dreadful enough environment". On the other hand, it might make some people safer when they're travelling during quiet hours. Tubes are creepy at night.
TR

Why not? Is anyone seriously saying that it will ruin the 'relaxation' of the ride? It is hell on earth anyway, you may as well catch up with a few friends whilst stranded in a tunnel. By the way, when I visited Hong Kong in 1993 they were already doing this. Time to catch up.
Chris, London, UK

I've recently used my mobile phone on the Paris Metro and didn't feel my personal space was being invaded at all. Perhaps it would be a good thing if hundreds of delayed passengers could call Ken from the train and complain about the delays! It might also help lone female passengers feel safer at night too.
Alex Bailey, Corby, England

Spend the money on improving the service rather than this nonsense
Frank, London
What is this obsession about where we now need to be on the phone the minute we are "bored"? It was always inevitable that mobiles would arrive on the Tube eventually, but the fact that there is perceived to be a need is a sad indictment of modern man. Spend the money on improving the service rather than this nonsense. With the state of our tube it's akin to putting a 3,000 state of the art sat-nav system in a 200 beat-up 1964 Ford that has failed its MOT!
Frank, London

I think there should be a quid-pro-quo, if mobile phones are to be allowed, unchecked, into all forms of public transport. Owners of premises where the majority of customers do not want mobile phones should be allowed to set up a system to shield their premises from the phone signals. That way, we will at least have some places where mobile phones are not simply banned but rendered inoperative.
David Hazel, Fareham, UK

I lived in London for 9 years. Look, a large amount of the tube is not 'underground', mobiles are always on use on the network when the trains are out of tunnel. It won't make much of a difference. Just accept that it will happen!
Tony, Dubai

It will make the emergency services work easier if mobile communication is in place on the tubes, while many will say it's a bad idea, I fear that we have to bring this system into the 21st century
Dr M Whiting, Woking, Surrey

With evidence from Spain that the Madrid train bombings may have been detonated by telephone I think it perfectly reasonable that they should be immobilised in the Tube - be that by circumstance or blocking equipment. I also think that other places such as theatres should be able to block mobile phone calls.
Chris Reed, Crawley, Sussex

In the case of an emergency I think it would be great to have reception on the underground
Tim, London
I recently visited Prague for a long weekend and was amazed at there tube system (efficient and very clean) as I could get full reception underground. In the case of an emergency I think it would be great to have reception on the underground. For example if some one was to get lost! The tube system in other countries is far better than here, don't you think they worry about the terrorism aspect?
Tim, London

Do I want pretty ornaments that dangle and spin, hanging from the ceiling of a train? No thank you! The only place for a mobile is above a cot.
Lee, Castleford

Absolutely not! Instead of allowing mobiles to be used on the underground, they should be banned from public transport altogether! A packed train of commuters do not wish to overhear inane one-way conversations. The world won't come to an end because you don't have a telephone link for half-an-hour.
Sue Woollard, Westcliff-on-Sea, England.

Anything that will impede the flow of passengers is totally irresponsible
Ron C, Stoke, UK
The London Underground is a confined, congested and dangerous environment and to introduce anything that will impede the flow of passengers is totally irresponsible. Even on the surface you get crowd crushes as someone at the front stops to speak to someone or answer their phones.
Ron C, Stoke, UK

I suppose that it will give more opportunity for folks to shout "I'm on the train" into their phones...
Jeff, Telford, UK

Good idea. Another good idea would be to ban food on public transport. There is nothing worse than sitting opposite a person who is greedily shovelling smelly burgers down their throats.
Stuart Bone, London

One of the best practical jokes I've heard was to set one's mobile phone alarm to ring in a few minutes, catch a tube train at Bank at evening rush hour, and then when the phone rings to answer it - watch the faces as people wonder how it is you have a signal 50m below the City. Then, with a pause, scream "It's fallen how far? Ok, I'll be back in 5 minutes" and then quickly get off at the next station. Classic - couldn't do it with an underground network....
Jim Spriggs, London

There will be inane mobile 'phone conversations and incessant ring tones
Paul, London
Just about the only good thing that can be said about the tube is that free inane mobile 'phone conversations and the incessant ring tones you get in other public places. Also, I regularly collide with people in the street who aren't looking where they are going because they reading or composing a text message. What would be the consequence of such collisions on a tube escalator or platform?
Paul, London

A read through some of these comments proves what I've suspected for a long time. The British population has morphed into Victor Meldrew.
Julie, Stockton

Phones - yes. Chewing gum and smelly takeaways - NO!
Alfie Noakes, North of England, UK

I'd rather he figured a way to get air-conditioning working on the carriages - they're unbearable in summer!
James, London, UK

Now all they need to do is fill the carriages ankle deep in ice cold sewage and the tube experience will be perfect!!
Nick, London

No it's not a good idea. Firstly and foremost, it will give terrorists the chance to blow the trains up (need anyone look any further than what happened in Madrid) and they are also too impersonal. Its bad enough having someone's "personal" stereo on full blast. To passengers that are for the idea, can I just say that there is nothing stopping the trains to introduce plasma screens for travel updates?
Alex, UK

Is there nowhere where we will be free of these infernal machines?
Andrew, London, UK
Is there nowhere where we will be free of these infernal machines? Many users are extremely antisocial when they use their mobiles, using very loud ring tones and shouting loudly, without any consideration for others.
Andrew, London, UK

Great idea. The tube will now finally catch up with the metro systems in Paris, Prague, Budapest and Kiev.
Andrew Smith, Epsom, UK

Terrible idea. Bad enough having people using their mobiles constantly on the street and on trains and buses without having this intrusion on the tube too.
Peter Firmin, London, UK

A very wise decision that will enable people to feel much more secure when travelling alone and late at night.
Les, Morpeth, England

For goodness sake. We have an ageing city with an overall outflow of young professionals. We have a suffocating mayor who tries to micro-manage our lives and makes London living as hard as possible. We have parking restrictions that are designed for revenue and not life. We are charged to drive round our own neighbourhoods. We have a transport system that is the worst in Europe and we hurtle thousands of commuters down trains and tubes every day, with no seat belt, crammed like sardines in dreadful conditions.. yet all Livingstone thinks about are the mobile phones. The noise means you can't hear others speak in the carriage unless you shout, so what hope on a phone? We're clinging on for dear life, we'll have more people falling over as they lose their grip or don't hold on at all. For crying out loud Livingstone, get your priorities right! Let Londoners live.
Tom Franklin, London, UK

I think it's a brilliant idea, it's stupid to assume that a terrorist would carry out an attack just because of new technology, the terrorists will carry out attacks anyway, they have proved that more than once throughout history.
David U, Hessle, UK

Technology will no doubt dictate and it is bound to happen
Craig H, London, UK
Ken does not have to endure the ill-mannered, inconsiderate and those with no concept of personal space going to work each day. Technology will no doubt dictate and it is bound to happen anyway.
Craig H, London, UK

The trains are so loud that I can't imagine it'll make a difference whether or not people are able to make and receive calls, they won't be able to hear anything anyway.
Carolyn Speakman, London, UK

Absolutely - there is nothing worse than waiting at home for a family member who was last seen entering a tube on the other side of the Capital, only for them to be delayed and not able to let us know. At least they can keep in touch, and call for help if need be, if they can use their mobiles. It will also give all those twitchy, nervous people who frequent the tube lines an opportunity to focus on something, and stop irritating the rest of us!
David P, London, UK

Very bad idea! My goodness could you imagine rush hour on the tube? People talking at the top of their lungs trying to look important to everyone else, ensuring we all hear their every word. The train was bad enough in the 18 months I commuted in and out of London everyday, but at least I got some peace on the tube! If people could learn to speak quietly whilst on the phone I'd probably feel differently. Dom Jolly wasn't wrong with his sketches on trigger happy TV.
Kathy, Watford, UK

As a Research Manager into the mobile phone industry I would say that it is a resoundingly excellent idea. First and foremost being on the tube is a time when we all have spare moments on our hands. The rise of the mobile internet system combined with transmitters on the tube will provide a perfect remedy to boredom. It will allow internet browsing, game playing, music downloading and a whole wealth of other services we can access. As to the danger I cant imagine it is would be a risk at all. I look forward to its availability.
Luc Altmann, London

With nearly all phones having both video and camera ability this [move] must be able to help tackle the crime on the Tube in some way. If you see something suspicious why not take a photo? You never know it could help solve a crime that happened a few weeks ago. This could also serve as a deterrent to would be criminals.
Neil D, Birmingham UK

Let's face it, this has got nothing to do with receiving travel updates and everything to do with profit for the phone providers
Steve, London

Let's face it, this has got nothing to do with receiving travel updates and everything to do with profit for the phone providers. No I don't think that mobile services should be extended underground. Mobiles are becoming as anti-social as cigarette smoking.
Steve, London, UK

Its bad enough having to travel on the dilapidated, smelly and overcrowded tubes without having to endure people braying into their mobiles as well. The tube must be about the only sanctuary from the tyranny of being permanently contactable and should remain that way. If Ken wants to improve the Tube he should do something about air pollution and noise pollution, not increase noise pollution.
Tom, London

Not a good idea for those of us who prefer to be uncontactable for at least half an hour of the day. Can someone please market a cheap anti-mobile phone device that renders them inoperable or will it have to wait until the first phone rage case hits the courts?
Barry, Hornchurch, Essex, UK

To Barry of Hornchurch, the device you are seeking exists, but it's illegal to use it to interfere with telecommunications signals for which the companies have paid for the rights to broadcast. Personally, I don't see how extending the signals to work in the tube would make any difference. It's already so loud anyway that you can barely hear.
Ed, St. Albans

It's a shame there is no way of providing mobile coverage which only allows texts
Paul Beckett, London
Having someone blathering rubbish at high volume on a crowded tube does not appeal in the slightest. It's a shame there is no way of providing mobile coverage which only allows texts.
Paul Beckett, London, UK

Damn good idea. Modern day life and demands make this well overdue. As for terrorists, they'll do whatever they want whenever they want.
David Ball, Wokingham, UK

Like many others, I find it intensely irritating when someone holds a mobile conversation rather than simply a quick call on the train. However, many times I've been delayed on the train and have wanted to call my destination and with the increase in online entertainment delivered to mobile phones, I have to say I'm in favour of the idea.
Phillip Holley, UK, London

Let there be somewhere where we can be free of mobile idiots rabbiting away to all and sundry. It is one of the pleasures of using the London Underground that it is relatively quiet and one can read or doze in peace.
Pauline Fothergill, Halifax, West Yorkshire, UK

How about spending the money on getting the trains to run on time and the signals to work first?
Bill, UK
How about spending the money on getting the trains to run on time and the signals to work first?
Bill, UK

Yes I think that mobile telephones should be allowed on the tube, as people may need to make an emergency call.
Zara Khan, Reading, Berkshire

Terrorists could already detonate a bomb on the Tube using conventional timing devices. What worries me more is the prospect of having to listen to people shouting: "Hello, I'm on the Tube."
Tristan, Guildford

In Hong Kong, we've had reception in the MTR for a number of years. Quite honestly, mobile phones are everywhere and one hardly notices them on the underground
Helen, Hong Kong
In Hong Kong, we've had reception in the MTR for a number of years. Quite honestly, mobile phones are everywhere and one hardly notices them on the underground. Hearing them is a different matter.
Helen, Hong Kong

No way! In Hungary I am fed up being part of other passenger's private/business life. Arriving back in London, it was truly refreshing to take the Central Line and hear just the normal traffic noise on the Tube. Also, if we are constantly chasing information and the myth of being indispensable, it will result in making psychiatrists rich far beyond their wildest dreams.
Mary McCannon, Budapest, Hungary

Maybe we shouldn't drive cars in case they're used by terrorists, or fly planes? The real travesty of this is that it means one of the last remaining sanctuaries from inane, annoying mobile phone conversations is about to be lost.
Peter, Bradford

The approach of Shepherd's Bush station on the Central line could at least guarantee the loudmouth city worker would shut up. I always saw it as a welcome break. Why the need to be contacted wherever you are, at all times? The world won't come crashing to an end if you can't pick up your voicemail for 20 minutes.
Lee, Crewe - ex-pat Londoner

Commuting by tube is annoying enough in the rush hour without some idiot trying to conduct a meeting next to you. They should design a way to prevent them working on overland trains as well.
Graeme, London

Maybe a compromise would be that they could be used on platforms of tube stations, but not on the tubes themselves
Katherine, London

I like the fact that there is some small amount of space in which we are not bothered by mobile phones. I find it hilarious that as soon as the train emerges at East Finchley on the Northern Line the entire carriage gets their mobiles out to say: "I'm on the train". So no, I am not in favour of being able to use mobiles on the tube. Maybe a compromise would be that they could be used on platforms of tube stations, but not on the tubes themselves.
Katherine, London, UK

If terrorists wanted to attack the tube they're not going to wait until 2008 when the equipment is installed. They probably have their own technology that caters for this... Fear of terrorists should not be a reason to hold back on technological advancements.
Amir Yasin, Oxford, UK

A good idea for safety. Ladies can feel more secure when travelling at night now
James Murphy, Dorset
A good idea for safety. Ladies can feel more secure when travelling at night now.
James Murphy, Dorset

To not allow them "just in case" terrorists use it mean the terrorists have won, and our way of life has been altered by the self centred opinion of these despicably cowardly individuals. Allow mobiles on the tube, then let us manage the risk.
Steve, Newcastle




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