Man playing music out loud on train: What are our options? [Update: Solved]

There’s a man on my train this morning, and he’s listening to stuff out loud on his phone, like fully out loud, not even slightly subtle. The train is in Britain. He keeps listening to 5 seconds of an annoying song, then switching to another song. It sort of sounds like kids TV music. He appears dressed to go work in a fancy office or something, and this is a morning commuter train, so I don’t think he’s escaped from a prison or mental hospital.

Anyway, amongst myself and another couple of hundred quiet passengers, we’ve tried everything:

  • tutting and rolling our eyes
  • harrumphing, whingeing and sighing
  • when a bloke got on the train with headphones on, someone said loudly "Isn’t it great when someone wears headphones? They can listen to whatever they like and nobody else has to hear it"
  • sometimes it stops for a minute, and there’s a widespread muttering of "Ooh, thank god that’s over with"
  • followed by an en-masse groan when it starts again "Oh no, not this again!"
  • a lady on the phone saying loudly "Sorry, I can’t hear what you’re saying, because someone is being inconsiderate and playing music really loudly"
  • saying to one another, loudly enough for the man to hear "isn’t it annoying when someone plays their music out loud? I wish he’d stop doing that"
  • muttering aggressive words, under our breath, in his general direction “prick”, “wanker” “knobhead”, "bellend"
  • Someone getting onto the train, and not sitting at his table and saying “God, I’d rather stand than sit next to that prick”, loud enough for him to hear.
  • the ticket-checking man rolled his eyes, but didn’t do anything

I think generally we’re running out of ideas. I heard someone behind me mentioning they were thinking about “sparking him out”, and someone else had suggested they might grab his phone and throw it out the window.

I was toying with the idea of going nuclear on him, and directly but politely asking him to turn it down, but it’s a bit early for that kind of extreme behaviour. Perhaps I should throw something at his head?

Anyway, anyone who’s been in a similar situation have any suggestions?

[Update] The train got full, so people were standing all the way down the aisle. Three people sat on the table next to him.

Opposite him, an older woman stared at him and shook her head at him, in a gesture I interpreted as “I’m not angry, I’m just disappointed”. He put his phone in his pocket and stared out the window. I gave her the subtlest of nods, to communicate “thank you” and “good job”.

So we’re safe, this time - but I’m still interested in solutions, as something like this could happen again!

Teon avatar

If you know people would play along you could play loud music on your device and encourage as many other people to do the same just to annoy him.
Do it VERY loudly and everyone stare at him.
Another option would be to start singing a common song loudly and encourage people to join in.
Happy Birthday, or 99 Bottles Of Beer, etc.


Is this for real? “We’ve tried nothing and we’re all out of ideas!” Just tell the asshole to turn it off. Get your shit together, Britain.

Bunnylux, avatar

I think this is the joke …


We’re out of passive-agressive ideas! Help please!


It’s very clearly a joke


I was also considering: everything but aasking him directly? XD

vext01, avatar

I always have ear plugs in my work bag for this very reason.

blakeus12, avatar

just directly tell him to


But that would be rude. We can’t have that.

It’s either nothing, passive aggressiveness or full violence. This is Britain, you know.


As mentioned by someone else in the birthday sing thread; there’s a ‘skip’ button in their face, but you have to push it really hard.


Put 50p on the table in front of him, put your hand gently on his shoulder, and with the most sympathetic expression you can manage, say ‘This is towards the cost of some headphones. I hope your situation improves soon.’


I’d actually be quite prepared to buy a bunch of sets of cheapo headphones to hand out in such situations, but half the phones these days don’t even have headphone output, and I’m not buying wireless ones to give away!


According to the historic documents, you are supposed to apply the Vulcan neck pinch


By Grabthar’s Hammer!

agent_flounder, avatar

Chin up! Stiff upper lip. Best choice is to suffer in indignant silence and complain later to several friends.


At first, I was so frustrated by the amount of mental gymnastics written here to avoid doing the one thing that would fix the situation.

I realized this whole thing was satirical the moment I read “going nuclear on him, and directly but politely asking him to turn it down”.


The funny thing is… it was a sort of jokey post… but it was also quite literally what happened.

A very similar event occurred a few months back, but I didn’t think to write down the different behaviors and suggestions I overheard at the time. This one was just too funny though, especially the gruff bloke saying “m’gonna spark 'im out!” (and that it lasted almost an hour).

There was also one on my train back after work, but the volume was a lot lower, so it was more ignorable.


Bombard them with Marmite.


That’s a new one, I’ll grant you that.


Tell him to shut up directly instead of that passive aggressive shit or report him to the authorities if you really care that much.


The post is obviously a joke


In such situations, it's crucial to remain calm and considerate. Politely asking the person to lower the volume could work, as they might not realize their behavior is disturbing others. Alternatively, notifying the train staff or a transport authority can lead to a resolution. Engaging with fellow passengers to address the issue collectively may also be effective. However, avoid escalating the situation with confrontational or aggressive behavior, as this can worsen the experience for everyone. Remember, it's about finding a peaceful resolution while respecting the rights and comfort of all passengers.


I’ve confronted somebody doing this in a packed commuter train once, back when I lived in the UK, and not only did the guy not care, but not a single person expressed support (everybody else just puts on the “this is nothing to do with me” body posture)

By comparisson, I’ve seen a similar situation in The Netherlands were pretty much the whole train rose up when the guy doing the noise refuse to turn it down after being politelly asked to do so.

Mind you, in my own native Portugal it’s the same shit as in the UK.

That said, politelly asking doesn’t hurt as people sometimes aren’t aware of how their noise is disturbing others, but yeah, if the other person is an asshole, in the UK (and Portugal) you’re going to be solo on this.

For a practical solution I suggest you get noise reduction headphones, which are also good to help you focus in the workplace if its noisy.


I think if someone is obtuse enough to not realise playing loud music on public transport is rude and disruptive you should consider the consequences before interacting with them. They are either 1. a bogan who thinks they’re top shit, or 2. someone with a questionable mental state. Either way, the chances of them turning the music off are low and the chances of fisticuffs higher than I’d like.

I’d rather roll my eyes and fork out the extra for noise-cancelling earphones.


I would’ve thought the same before I had interactions were I politelly told somebody their music/video-audio/whatever was too loud and they apologised and lowered it.

I know there’s a natural tendency to conclude others are just assholes for not even considering those around them (certainly, I have that tendency to conclude that), and yet such “anti-sociallity” does seem to be more of a range than an absolute characteristic and some people whilst they might not think “what about other people” upfront (or even it’s just situational and normally they do but not this time) will actually do so and adjust what they’re doing to take in account others.

But yeah, it’s a risk, not as much of the thing ending up in violence but more of the person asking ending up in a humiliating situation (unless you yourself escalate it to “fistcuffs”).

Obi, avatar

The Dutch love stepping in to any situation to make sure you’re “doing normal”, regardless if it concerns them or not. Sometimes it’s good like in this situation, sometimes less so.


I am finding this more and more common place on my commute. I chalk it up to the Bluetooth headphone push/ loss of the aux. People either don’t have headphones now or their Bluetooth ones are dead. I just resort to putting my headphones in, maybe make a bit of a show of it in hopes that they see me.

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