NSW Doubles Down On Quiet Carriages

NSW Doubles Down On Quiet Carriages

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.

See also: Quiet Carriage 101: What You Should And Shouldn’t Do | Are Quiet Trains Good Or Bad For Commuting?


      • Yes, but NSW TrainLink run the outer suburban/intercity trains, such as the Oscar and V sets, which feature these quiet carriages.

        None of the Sydney Trains services (currently) have quiet carriages.

    • My observation has been of control freaks deciding who can and can’t have a conversation be it quiet or otherwise. Most disturbing is the pack dog mentality and lack of common sense or intelligence displayed by folk too stupid to move or put on their headset.

    • What happens if you’ve a few potentially noisy children and grand parents in tow with no room to park them in the allocated noisy areas? Does one stand around in a noisy huddle in the general maelstrom getting in everyone’s way, or is one allowed to overspill into a roomier noiseless area, if prepared to administer sufficient gagging or sedative preventatives as necessary to elements of the party most likely to lean in the way of unruly or messy behaviour?

  • This isn’t good news. For anyone who travels with a family, it’s near impossible to keep kids quiet on an hour long train ride – and if 1/2 the train is for people that insist on absolute silence, you’re just asking for trouble.
    Two problems:
    1. You’re restricting where anyone can sit – for little benefit.
    2. All the rowdy rebels go to the noisy end of the train, as do the parents with kids that can’t hope to keep them quiet – not a good mix.
    Like you Chris, i’m all for having a quiet carriage – but not 1/2 of a train. 1 carriage is all you need, otherwise, you will find that others are subjected to the same abuse that you have been (and I have heard similar stories of quiet carriage passengers showing little tolerance and respect).
    On a separate note: you might want to consider what this article has to do with life-hacking.

    • I agree that it shouldn’t be half the train that is labelled “quiet”. However, when you catch a train in Sydney are you more concerned with finding the quiet carriage or finding a carriage with space?

    • It’s useful information that ties into one of our main categories: travel. If you must have a hack, you now know that the middle two carriages are also quiet which may save you a confrontation.

    • “For little benefit” – to you maybe.

      I never have much time for people who choose to have kids and then complain about all the little difficulties they face because of it. Kids = sacrifice. Not having kids requires different sacrifices. I choose to deal with the sacrifices I have to make.

  • Stupid idea to start with. I think it’s fine to tell people with ridiculously loud music to turn it down. Or people having really loud conversations on the phone to pipe down. But rustling newspapers?

    I get on the last carriage to go home, only because it corresponds with the stairs at the station I get off at. Will I answer my phone if it rings (it’s always on silent)? Yes. Will I talk really loudly on the phone? No. I am quite capable of speaking normally without being particularly loud.

    If this rule is ‘entirely voluntary’, then what’s the point of putting it up on the train doors etc???

    In my opinion, it’s a train, not a library. So why treat it like a library? Next we’ll be putting our phones in buckets at the front of the bus, to collect them only upon disembarking……

  • I take the quiet carriage almost every evening back home because it’s all
    the way to the front from Central and usually there are some seats left.
    As for the silence.. I have not been in a single quiet carriage yet where it was actually “quiet”.
    Why? Like in the original post there is always some argument that breaks out over
    being quiet, or a lot of confusion where the carriages are. Rule is they are at the front and the back, but I have seen arguments break out in the middle carriages because some people
    thought that the whole train should be quiet. This is impossible in peak hour.

    Myself and a friend have been told off by one guy sitting in the back (and we were the only
    other two people in the carriage towards the front) for talking too loud.
    He must have had super-hearing.

    • Sounds like you’ve had bad luck. In well over a hundred trips in quiet carriages, I’ve only seen the kind of things you’re talking about twice.

  • I don’t know the person next to me on the train so having silence and being able to read, study or draw is great. If a friend catches the train we move to the other carriage and chat (not so loud that the whole carriage can hear us) where we know we are not disturbing others. In all honestly, it shouldn’t have to have been enforced. You should know that blaring lady gaga through your speakers so loud that everyone in the carriage can sing along is a dick move, why we had to tell people this is beyond me. It was only put in to stop truly disrespectful behaviour and was an eye opener to the complete selfishness some people show on public transport to their fellow commuters.

    If we hadn’t had such a selfish group and we had respectful carriages to start with then your short phone call in a carriage would have been tolerated @chrisjager. This is perfect world where people care about whether the person next to them is comfortable.

  • What’s the point. I was on a quiet carriage last night. They even made an announcement stating which carriages where quiet carriages. I was in the first carriage. I have no issue being quiet. But regardless of the announcement some people who heard that announcement couldn’t give a rats and continued on.

    I agree with Chris that it’s a good idea on paper. I couldn’t care less if you want to be noisy or not, if it’s a problem it will be made known.

    Personally I just want to get home and out of the tuna cans that are our Sydney’s train.

  • I lived in England for a while and the funny thing there is that people just deal with it; my experience on the tube is that it was a lot quieter anyway. Probably helps that there’s no mobile reception underground.

    I’m heading to Korea in a couple of months’ time and I’m told that people there behave in ‘quiet carriage’ mode all the time. Very much looking forward to it. Why do you need to make huge amounts of noise on the train / bus anyway?

  • I totally ignore these gimmicky attempts by Ministers to appear to be doing something positive for the general public. Lower the fares if you really intend to do something.
    Now I spend a good 3 and a bit hours on trains and buses going to and from work weekdays. I’m a fairly quite person and pretty much keep to myself but If I need to take a phone call or choose to talk with someone I am sitting next to I’m going to. It’s my legal right to have a conversation and I’ll make no apologies for it either.
    Also why is the carriages that usually stop in front of the platform exits are suddenly deemed the Quiet carriages?
    I would rather be guaranteed that the carriage I enter won’t smell like vomit, urine, or B.O.

    People need to remember these key points about bullshit Ministerial placation’s of this type:
    1 – Its ‘VOLUNTARY’.
    2 – Its ‘NOT’ enforceable by law.
    3 – Its ‘PUBLIC’ transport…. Deal with it!!
    And for all you Shoosh Nazi’s out there, if the noise bothers you so much get some fracken earplugs…

    • I remember a few words that could come in handy when in public: common courtesy. This of course applies to the shoosh Nazis’ too, But there seem to be not a lot of it going around these days.

    • “I’m going to close my eyes and walk around punching the air. And if your face gets in the way then it’s your fault”

    • Exactly, Chris, why didn’t you leave the carriage when you were making the call? Was there a life threatening situation occurring that you had to make a decision on? I’m guessing it’s because you’re too important for everyone else.

  • i think it’s not the face to face chatters that annoy most people, but those who talk on mobile, and people who put their music too loud that everyone can hear what they are listening to.

    having lived in japan, where there’s a lot of unwritten rules, most of the people have the curtsey of not talking on their mobiles and have loud music on. It’s actually quite fun to eavesdrop on some chitchats

    • Nope, it’s the face-to-face that is just as annoying. People mere inches apart from each other speaking like they are giving a public speech is just as annoying.

  • Well you should have moved to the normal carriage if you wanted to make a phone call. I study for test in those carriages, Im sick of dero, and bogans going on and on about bullshit, and scoring drugs, when just above your heads says refrain from using mobile phones and loud conversations. Have some respect for people in the zones that want to be left alone and dont sit in them

  • Trains are PUBLIC space, not PRIVATE space. Too many people love the sound of their own voice and feel compelled to flap their gums incessantly. It is a form of masturbation. The minutiae of your banal existence and your appalling taste in music are PRIVATE and should not be inflicted on others in PUBLIC spaces.

    • “Trains are PUBLIC space, not PRIVATE space.” That argument works both ways though — should you really expect complete silence in a public place? Even libraries allow quiet conversations.

  • I catch an express train from Town Hall to Mount Druitt in the afternoon each day.
    Is there a quiet carriage in this express train going to western line?
    Situation Happened!!
    Yesterday there was a lady having a earphone volume so loud that all people in that carriage can hear the irritating sound coming out – so I nicely spoke to the lady telling her that the volume of the earphone is high = she told me if I don’t like it go and sit somewhere else!!
    Tell me how long a human will survive if they need to go through these type of frustration every day, I firmly believe it’s the fault of the City Rail not addressing these thinks seriously!!

  • I have just listened to my husband being abused because he rang to tell me he was on the 3:27 train and to pick him up, he was in a quiet carriage. That’s all he had to tell me. But because a woman, then her husband, then another man joined in the whole carriage was subjected to a loud argument. And the train had not left the station!

  • The train fares have come down. The idea of quiet trains and lower fares is to compete with petrol sapping CO emitting cars and the parking spaces they take up and traffic congestion.
    Despite being a Public space, I am attracted to the quiet carriages for all the reasons stated so far. I used to drive to work everyday and can afford it but now I take the train because of the two reasons above. Its soo cheap and I can snooze or study in the quiet train.
    I think you should be completely quiet in those carriages and move to the other carriages if you find it difficult.
    One other point. I have no interest in anyone elses conversation and their music. So if those people who think you are interesting ir your music is interesting. YOU ARE NOT. If you think I am wrong. Go up to people and ask them if they want to take a picture of you for their photo album or sell people tickets to your conversation. See how many people take your picture or buy a ticket. Only if you are Brad Pit would people accept.

  • I think the whole idea of quiet carriages is frankly absurd. How much control can you have over something that runs on mutual cooperation short of having a person in charge fine the people that don’t cooperate.

  • Iv wittness a lady with a small baby sleeping and toddler in hand get ask to leave a quiet carrage becasuse her children may make noise later on in the travel . The mother was embrassed and changed carrages nexted stop . I sat with the young mother and told her i didnt think the law ment children but she changed carrages any way . I was so disgusted with the person who embbrassed this young lady that when I returnd to my seat I proced to make loud phone calls to my friend about this lady’s behaviour , she started to tap me on the shoulder and kept saying this is a quiet carrage. I laught and said im sure it is than played my music loud and sang to it badly . I told her that im sure the baby and the 2 year old would have been more quieter than I but hay your only pointing to a sighn aha

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