Where Is My Long Quiet Cab?



The longer trains on the peak time Western services have been most welcome so far this week - hey a seat!
But the next innovation needs to be the designation of The Quiet Cab.
Brisbane has just introduced this growing fashionable public transportation item and friends there tell me they’re already fighting for a seat in it as it’s proving very popular.
The three-month trial sees the last carriage of all Brisbane trains a hush zone.
No loud activity allowed although there isn’t a penalty as yet, other than a ticking off and potentially a  lynching from fellow passengers.
I keep hearing references to the concept.
National Radio’s weekly New Tech Guru spoke last week about loud mobile phones on public transport and how the Quiet Cab came in the US.
You can hear his commentary here

US rail company Amtrak  apparently faced an onboard protest on a long distance train from Philadelphia to Washington D.C., when a group demanded peace and quiet on the rails. Within a year, Amtrak had introduced the concept of having designated “quiet carriages” as a choice when you get on board.

Amtrak states the Quiet Car service is “intended to provide a peaceful, quiet atmosphere for those who want to work or rest without distraction.”

In the Quiet Cars, Amtrak policy forbids you from using any devices making noise, including mobiles; pagers; handheld games without headphones; laptop computers with audible features enabled; and/or portable CD or DVD players without headphones. Also, if you use headphones you must keep the volume low enough so the audio cannot be heard by anyone else.

Overhead lighting may be dimmed in Quiet Cars and luggage bins can’t be opened between stops. Even normal conversation is frowned on since Amtrak rules the following:

“Customers must strictly limit conversation and speak only in quiet, subdued tones. If you’d like to carry on an extended conversation, please relocate to another car.”

Guards do enforce this and any breach sees the person thrown into another carriage.

Lately on our trains, I have seen people with laptops trying to find power plugs as they travel, More and more we will see as many iPads, netbooks, Kindles and whatever as iPods which every 2nd commuter seems to have.

But the noise is an issue.

This week sitting down the very last seat of the carriage I could hear iPod through someone’s headphones way up the carriage. And someone playing music through their mobile without a headphone (why is it always music you hate!)

And I also reported some months back at the horror of a woman getting in at Grafton, standing by the door but shouting on her mobile phone as if addressing the rest of the carriage to her girlfriend about her one night stand’s strange bed fetishes - all in far far too much detail thank you and there was no escaping. I could still her her shrill voice through my iPod phones.

Coping with the growing numbers of passengers here on still a limited number of carriages, authorities will struggle  with the concept of separating off one carriage for a particular requirement but as our authorities have a love affair with Brisbane at the moment (Brisbane local government reps addressed them at the local government conference the other week on how to copy Brisbane), I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a similar trial here one day soon.

Ironically on the Brisbane trains, there is noise in the Quiet Cab drawing complaints.

It’s the noise of on-train announcements that warn constantly that in that carriage, you can’t talk loudly or use mobile phones and other noisy devices.

You can’t turn those announcements off.




  1. Alex says:

    Japan had quiet cars on the bullet trains when I was there in 2008.

  2. JBR says:

    The Swiss Federal Railways had quiet cars from around 1999 onwards. Not too bad, though I’ve never really been in a really loud car here anyway.

  3. Matt L says:

    The biggest issue I would see is on western line trains, which carriage is the quiet one as trains change ends at Newmarket ;-)

    I wish the TM’s would actually address people with loud music or phones etc. as it isn’t fair on other passengers. Loud talking is a bit harder to solve address though. Jon by any chance did the woman you described have red hair? I have heard similar things from one passenger more than once.

  4. Commuter says:

    The Heathrow Express has long had a silent carriage. Anecdotally though, there does seem to be an increase in the number of people indulging in that particularly anti-social behaviour of playing their MP3 players/mobile telephones out loud. Some train managers/passenger operators have been curtailing the practice, citing the ‘no loud music’ regulation but most ignore it. I really don’t want to have someone else’s musical tastes stuffed down my ear and there are plenty of headphones on the market to ensure this isn’t necessary. Transport for London had this problem about 3 years ago and it took some pretty determined campaigning by members of the public to persuade it to police the habit; hope it doesn’t take as long here. That said a designated quiet carriage would be a brilliant idea!

  5. Richard says:

    Another problem is to come and that is as these people gradually become deaf they will turn their ipods or similar up louder to hear.

  6. Bryan says:

    Put movies on that they will watch.??????????

  7. George D says:

    I’ve been in Brisbane for two weeks, riding the trains most days. The quiet cab isn’t a silent one, like the Amtrack, and the absence of penalties is (I think) a factor in making it pleasant. The conductor announces the quiet cab over the intercom. There are doors between carriages however, allowing you to leave a loud or quiet carriage.

    Brisbane’s rail system is however well developed, and expanding nicely. A combination of hub-spoke rail, and new busways is making it into a very decent city. Like Auckland, except they’re largely building rail instead of motorways (although there are a few of those). With another line, electrification and integrated ticketing this city could be Auckland in a couple of years.


  8. WestieCommuter says:

    ONE quiet carriage? Why can’t we put all the dopes without head phones into ONE carriage and let them duke it out. Leave the rest of the train for those who have the sense to turn their music down. It has been a daily occurrence for me - some young dolt (male and female) with a cell phone blasting their music. My 2 recent experiences:
    - One train employee (a soft-spoken, petite young woman) was purposefully drown out as she tried to get ticket info from 2 young men - I spoke up asking them to turn their music down, then she did the same so she could finish her conversation with them and then the thugs gave me the evil eye for the rest of the trip.
    - This morning a gaggle of loud teenage girls took over the wheelchair/bike/pram area, cranked their Beiber box and were told by the train employee (a tall man) “No loud music” which they turned down and then back up after he left, then down again when he returned.

    Maybe a single quiet carriage with a dedicated staff member to toss out noisy people would be best? Or maybe actually tossing people off who don’t follow the rules? So many stupid people, so few options…

  9. Andy says:

    I was on a bus once where some “cool guy” was blasting music through his radio thinking he was out of some U.S movie or something. The bus driver stopped the bus and refused to go anywhere until he turned it off or got off the bus.

    There were plenty of other passengers he would have had to answer to so he very promptly turned it off.

  10. Owen Thompson says:

    A lot of it comes down to staff enforcing the rules.


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