Media: A Moment with Marquis

Forget the view outside, we've got a much better one coming to the inside," the train operator C2C's website proclaims. "We're about to add a little extra to your journey."

The little extra is five or six television screens per carriage "so everyone gets a great view". The "great view" will be of news, sport, weather and, of course, ads to pay for it all. The company supplying C2C is 360 Onboard, ad sales are handled by Optimal. A new medium is born.

Except there's a tiny problem. Passengers don't want it - or at least a feisty minority don't. Last week, three women locked themselves in a train lavatory in protest. Not very British, is it? You won't find stiffer upper lips anywhere in the world than on a British commuter train, so a gentle protest is pretty much tantamount to total war.

It's all the more curious because we in the UK tend to muck along with our media and the ads carried in it with something approaching affection.

(The Advertising Association measures these things and encounters very little fuss about ads.) 360 Onboard has researched its service and found no major objections. The Heathrow Express has had onboard television from day one, as far as I know provoking no riots or sit-ins or anything more hostile than a glazed expression.

So what's the problem? It could be that C2C's Essex commuters are an angry, mutant form of the common or garden British rail passenger, a sort of killer bee to the average bumble, but my hunch is that it's the noise pollution that irritates C2C's militant passengers. Unless you can find one of the 25 per cent of seats that are designated TV-free, you get the sound as well as the pictures, whether you want it or not.

I travel by train quite a bit and I have to say that I wouldn't much care for this new initiative. I quite like"the view outside". I'm with the spokesman from the Thurrock Rail Users' Group, who complained that the onboard TV would "vandalise passengers' own time to read, doze, study or think". I'm pro-media, of course, but then again I don't feel that we need to fill every single gap in our lives with it. Television's strength is its intrusiveness. Isn't that precisely the reason we don't want it everywhere?

It's difficult to define exactly when a new medium steps across the invisible line that divides a helpful service from an annoying intrusion, but if I were C2C I'd be very careful. You don't want to push those commuters too far, because there are decades of pent-up rail rage just waiting to explode ...