From February 13, Sydney's CityRail will be trialling "quiet carriages" on long distance commuter services, asking passengers in the first and last carriages to STFU and stop using their mobiles. It seems like a noble idea, but will it work?
The trial will run from February 13 to May 13, and will cover all services between Newcastle and Sydney, plus peak-hour services between Sydney's North Shore and Wyong. On four-car trains, only the first carriage will be "quiet"; on larger trains, both the first and last will be zoned for silence.
Beyond some announcements on the trains that quiet carriages exist, CityRail won't be actively policing the rules:
Quiet carriages are customer regulated. There are no penalties or consequences for not being quiet in a quiet carriage, but we encourage everyone to respect the peace and quiet and not to disturb other passengers. The success of this trial depends on all customers respecting their fellow passengers.
I suspect this will cause problems when passengers get on the train and find that they're in a quiet carriage by mistake (especially if they race to catch a train at Central and end up in the last carriage). The only way many passengers will be aware of the "quiet carriages" is if they're constantly reminded over the loudspeaker, and that partially negates their usefulness. Can you imagine this working?