After being aggressively abused for once taking an emergency phone call, I have mixed reservations about quiet train carriages. A lot of our readers seem to love them though. You’ll therefore be pleased to know that all NSW intercity trains now have double the number of quiet carriages. This means that effectively 50% of each train is now silent.
This week, Minister for Transport Gladys Berejiklian announced that quiet carriages will be expanded to more areas and will operate on more carriages, in response to customer demand.
“We will effectively double the number of existing quiet carriages on intercity services, giving ctomers twice as much opportunity to travel in a quiet carriage and enjoy their journey in peace,” Berejiklian said.
Quiet carriages will now operate on the first, last and two middle carriages of eight-car trains, the first and last carriages of four-car trains and the last carriage of two-car trains. Previously, eight- and four-car trains had half that number and two-car trains had none.
In addition, quiet carriages have also been introduced to the Southern Highlands Line, the South Coast Line between Kiama and Bomaderry (Nowra), and on the Bathurst Bullet express train between Bathurst and Central. Quiet carriages already operate on the Newcastle, Central Coast, South Coast and Blue Mountains lines. (A similar service is also provided by Queensland Rail and Victoria vLine.)
According to CityRail, the expansion of quiet carriages reflects feedback from almost 90 percent of respondents to a Transport for NSW survey saying the initiative had improved their overall travel experience.
As I've made clear in the past, I'm not a huge fan of quiet carriages. While the concept is great on paper, it seems to lead to a lot of anti-social behaviour. In addition to my own personal brush with overzealous sound wardens, I witness at least two or three arguments between commuters every week.
The sad fact of the matter is that the "rule" is entirely voluntary, which means there'll always be a small pocket of passengers who refuse to pipe down. Even worse are the silence extremists who furiously leap on the tiniest of infringements.
We spoke to a transit officer today who said he'd had to deal with more complaints since the quiet carriages came into effect. Two examples he gave involved a person getting abused for rustling their newspaper too loudly and an old lady who demanded everyone on her carriage stop using their phones to browse the internet. (For the record, the rule only covers conversations, music and noisy electronics.)
On the plus side, Sydney Trains has pledged to add clear signage inside carriages and train doors to help clear up any misunderstandings over which cars are quiet and which aren't.
Do you think quiet carriages are good or bad for commuting? Have you witnessed any cracking arguments between chatty commuters and their rule-abiding counterparts? Let know in the comments section below.