Rail travellers may be force-fed TV TVs

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The Independent Online
HUNDREDS OF thousands of rail commuters in Britain could soon be forced to watch - and listen to - television.

On-board TV sets have been installed on two Central Trains commuter routes in Birmingham and the system is to be extended into south-east England and Wales.

Amid growing anger among commuters, C2C, which operates out of London Liverpool Street, will begin putting screens in all its 50 trains within the next two months.If the venture is successful, National Express, which owns C2C and Central, will place sets in trains run by its other subsidiaries, Silverlink and WAGN. Other operators in line to introduce on-board televisions are Southern, One and Arriva Trains Wales.

Unless there is a revolt by commuters, it is thought that screens will be placed on most commuter trains. The company providing the equipment, 360 Onboard, will pay the train companies a fee, funded by advertisements on the screens.

At C2C the sets will be placed at the ends of the carriages with three-quarters of seats equipped with speakers which cannot be turned off by passengers. A spokesman said other travellers would be unable to hear the news, weather and sport provided by ITN.

A Central trains spokesman said 80 per cent of commuters using the Birmingham routes were happy with the system.

Anthony Smith, national director of the Rail Passengers' Council, said: "I don't think people want this sort of interruption. Train journeys are often a real haven of peace and quiet."