, Volume 36, Issue 5, pp 541-564

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Communicating something confidential while travelling by train: the use of a telephone conversation versus silent modes

  • Taede TillemaAffiliated withDepartment of Panning, Faculty of Spatial Sciences, University of Groningen Email author 
  • , Tim SchwanenAffiliated withTransport Studies Unit, School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford
  • , Martin DijstAffiliated withFaculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University


Wireless ICTs are often used in public transport. Using survey data collected amongst 98 train travellers this article aims to gain insight into important factors that affect train travellers’ intentions to communicate with distant others while travelling. More specifically, the focus is on the decision-making process that leads to the intention to choose for a confidential conversation either via ‘audible’ mobile phone or via ‘silent’ SMS/e-mail. An approach that is related to the Extended Model of Goal-directed Behaviour (EMGB) is applied. Structural equation modelling results indicate that in particular past SMS behaviour, the desire to communicate (goal desire), the perceived efficacy and controllability influence the intention to conduct a confidential phone conversation in the train. The influence of the social environment (e.g. eavesdropping) seems to be less important. Several EMGB constructs are strongly influenced by age. It seems that older respondents have more negative attitudes towards telephoning while travelling by train, and find it more difficult to call other people in such a situation. Finally, they have a lower intention than younger respondents to conduct a confidential conversation over the phone while travelling.


Train situation Mobile phone conversation vs. SMS/e-mail Extended Model of Goal-directed Behaviour (EMGB) Structural equation modelling