All quiet on the Western line

PAUL FIELD

The irritant with the booming voice who is late for dinner, apologetic because he is going through a tunnel and whose line is breaking up, is no more.

At least not in the rear coach of a Great Western Railways train. The rail operator has banned mobile phones from one carriage of all its daytime services between London and the West Country.

The reasoning behind the move is that while to some they are vital for business and arranging a hectic social life, to most they are nuisance. Especially for those trying to work, take in the scenery or snooze.

Great Western has designated one of the eight coaches on each service a mobile-free zone. Called business standard class, it aims to offer passengers a quiet environment. Personal stereos are also barred from the carriages, which are at the ends of the trains to avoid the annoyance of other passengers walking through.

Spokesman Ross Mackie believes most travellers know where mobile phone users should make their calls. "The best place is in the toilet. It is certainly quiet in there."

He said the service, launched last month and at no extra cost, is proving so popular that its three-month trial period is likely to be extended. "Initial reaction has been very popular but we have not had people fighting for seats. People on Great Western services are far too respectable to fight," he added.

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