Time Use on Trains: Media Use/Non-use and Complex Shifts in Activities


Thomas Bjørner

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - europe, mode - rail, ridership - behaviour, ridership - attitudes, planning - surveys


ICT, Travel time, Train travel, Social interactions, Observations, Goffman


This study explores how travel time is used and how passengers conceptualise travel time in Danish intercity trains and intercity fast trains. The new contribution to the literature this study can offer is in the inclusion of all kinds of passengers in the different compartments to understand train travel as a dynamic act of moving with shifts in activities. A mixed-method approach is used with self-completed questionnaires, frequency observations, shadowing observations and interviews. The findings reveal that the train passengers’ acts on the move are framed by both macro- and microstructures. The passengers create a travel space in which they make dynamic shifts in different kinds of activities: media use, media non-use, social interactions and non-social interactions. Passengers expect the train operator to provide the travel space for different activities (including the possibility of mobile communication), and passengers can be frustrated and have anxiety if these needs are not fulfilled. The mobile phone is heavily used during train travel, and it appears that passengers are not typically annoyed by phone conversations during travel but may refer to previous experiences with annoyances.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Taylor&Francis, copyright remains with them.