Sshhh! Would you mind keeping it down that infernal tappity-tap on your keyboards, please? As for the noisesome flapping of your eyelids - think I wouldn’t notice - be so kind as to observe that this is a Quiet Website and you will answer to us…

Silence is bliss

Never mind the screaming kids in your nearest McMall and all the sundry squawking they have inspired among; it’s time to bid a (very tight-lipped) welcome to ... the Quiet Carriage Nazi.

CityRail recently created the Quiet Carriage for those who like to travel on Sydney trains with a little less wear on the eardrums. It’s a simple and pleasant idea – in the rear carriage, talking on a mobile phone, playing music and conducting loud conversations are frowned upon and the concept has been popular, CityRail says.

Indeed, during the initial trial, nearly 90 per cent of customers said travelling in Quiet Carriages had improved their overall travel experience. Further, 98 per cent indicated they intended to continue using Quiet Carriages.

But there is always someone wanting to sink their digits firmly into the rule of thumb.

On a trip to Sydney the other day, two elderly ladies sat together, murmuring quietly as two elderly ladies sitting together would. Luckily, Quiet Carriage Nazi was on hand to spring into action and point out the heinous nature of their ways.

“Do you realise this is a Quiet Carriage yada yada ... “ QCN firmly reminded them. No, sorry, said the stunned and demonised pair, who promptly hid their embarrassment behind books and dared themselves the occasional whisper for the rest of the journey.

“No, I don’t think that is right,” pointed out an anarchist nearby. “Quiet talk is fine – it’s loud conversations that are not allowed.”

QCN was having none of it. She rode this train and this carriage every day, we were (loudly) informed, which clearly made her some kind of carriage president whose inauguration we had all somehow missed.

“Well, I think you’re very rude,” said the anarchist.

“Well, I think you’re very rude,” QCN retorted.

The rest of us shrank; it was clearly heading for Sudoku puzzles at 10 paces ... They went back and forth a little longer, completely shattering the peace and calm of the Quiet Carriage. The only thing louder than them was the clanging of the irony alarm.

QCN eventually settled for a (quiet) harrumph, leaving the rest of us stewing in a rather humid silence and wondering what mutterings we could manage before the powers that be again empowered themselves.

I needed a change of channel at this point and put on my iPod, but even there, no relief. Up shuffled Curtis Mayfield’s Move On Up, a verse of which begins: “Bite your lip, and take a trip ... “ Even long-deceased soul icons were getting in on this act.

A mate who takes the same route reckons CityRail is messing with our minds, conducting some giant social experiment complete with hidden cameras and such. He works for Four Corners; he should know a bit about conspiracy theories.

Like prohibition, the Quiet Carriage concept is unenforceable, and even the CityRail website admits the policy is “customer regulated”. They are not about to employ extra staff to walk up and down with index fingers pressed to lips – and this works perfectly for those folks who must oversee every facet of their existence and everyone else’s.

They have taken it, bravely, upon themselves to be sole arbiters of who is suffering from a decibelity and who is not. Shush-ters are indeed doing it for themselves.

I dreamed last night that QCN recognised me on the train, somehow deduced I had written this article and harangued me all the way to Central. It won’t surprise you to know that I never heard the bloody end of it.

Comments on this post close at 8pm AEST

Most commented


Show oldest | newest first

    • BMJ says:

      07:00am | 01/03/13

      I love listening to hardstyle max volume in quiet carriages.

      Everyone loves it. Hehe

    • Josh says:

      07:32am | 01/03/13

      Well aren’t you just a lovely dickhead?

      If other can hear your music (no matter the carriage) you should be shot.

    • BMJ says:

      08:05am | 01/03/13

      You’ll be fine. Just enjoy the tunes.

    • gobsmack says:

      08:34am | 01/03/13

      Assuming you wear earpieces, if others can hear your music you’re probably going to go deaf in a few years.  Hehe.

    • john says:

      08:45am | 01/03/13


      “You’ll be fine. Just enjoy the tunes.”


      This is why I love the fact mental institutions have closed down and let schizophrenia loose on the streets or some person is having a real bad day & won’t like your tune or doing some illegal narcotics and having a bad trip. They tend to restore the balance of inconsiderate people.

      If your tunes disturb his or her thoughts or brain waves in a way it rubs them up the wrong way - your going wish you kept to yourself.

      Play with fire & enjoy your tunes & disturbing others that have a civil right to their peace in their own space.  smile

    • subotic says:

      09:39am | 01/03/13

      I deliberately sit in the QC with Slayer cranked to 666 decibels whilst reading books with titles like “In The Name Of Allah by Wakeel Allah” dressed in a black hoodie, Black Sabbath T-Shirt, skulls rings, leather wrist bands and biker boots.

      I’ve never had a compliant about my reading aloud yet….

    • Kika says:

      10:03am | 01/03/13

      Subotic - LOL! Reading Aloud…

    • Jack says:

      10:27am | 01/03/13

      Reign in Blood or something post-Divine Intervention?

      Because if it’s the latter, someone should definitely take issue with it.

    • subotic says:

      11:11am | 01/03/13

      @Jack, Undisputed Attitude.

    • BMJ says:

      02:21pm | 01/03/13


      Nah it’s not me. Classic track though.


      Yeah people having bad days are the best usually they just stew though. Another favourite train activity of mine is havin a convo with them. I just pull out the earphones and start talking to them. Results do vary. People tend to freak out.

      Frankly i wouldnt have to numb my ears if people were more keen for a yarn.

    • Michael S says:

      07:10am | 01/03/13

      I’ve always wondered how the quiet carriages work with the short platforms on the Central Coast line where you need to travel on the last carriage.
      What happens if you want to be noisy and get off at Wondabyne, Koolewong or Tascott?

    • Mike says:

      07:16am | 01/03/13

      Maybe these carriages (or ALL carriages) need a decibel meter connected to an alarm which goes off at a preset level?  smile

    • A Concerned Citizen says:

      09:47am | 01/03/13

      I’d rather a system that administers a painful (and hopefully lethal) electrical shock to the source of the noise.

    • gobsmack says:

      07:31am | 01/03/13

      They need a team of mime artists to enforce the quiet.

    • TChong says:

      07:51am | 01/03/13

      “Mime is money” - Morrie The Mime.

    • Expat says:

      07:33am | 01/03/13

      Bizarre? Haven’t you ever been to Japan, Brian? This has been standard procedure in every carriage on every train for as long as anyone can remember. It’s called being considerate.

    • Josh says:

      08:48am | 01/03/13

      Considerate unless there’s a girl on board with a skirt…

    • A Concerned Citizen says:

      09:43am | 01/03/13

      Indeed- it’s sad that Australians even need to be told to show some basic respect for others- even more sad that there are people complaining about being asked to show consideration to others;  but it’s certainly better than nothing- even if it isn’t enforcable by paid staff..

      Having a few signs inside and outside the carriage might help this problem too- perhaps markings on the train platform designating where the ‘quiet carriages’ stop at.

      If only there were signs instructing people to fill UNOCCUPIED seats before parking their arses next to a complete stranger unnecessarily.

    • Expat says:

      10:18am | 01/03/13


      That does seem sad. And it’s not as if the trains are different to any other place, at any other time. No enforcement is required. It’s just common sense, and so obvious that it’s rarely even discussed.

    • Lars says:

      10:42am | 01/03/13

      Lol nice one Josh, I guess our browser histories are the same.

    • Expat says:

      07:33am | 01/03/13

      Bizarre? Haven’t you ever been to Japan, Brian? This has been standard procedure in every carriage on every train for as long as anyone can remember. It’s called being considerate.

    • chuck says:

      07:40am | 01/03/13

      God I wish we had them in Melbourne. Also mobile phone free carriages for people who have no desire to listen to the frequent, puerile inanities of users -mostly young and mostly female.
      What did the earlier female generation do without mobiles I wonder?

    • Jim Moriarty says:

      08:08am | 01/03/13

      The only call you need to make in a train is “I’m at X station, so should be there in about ten? Meet you in the car park. Bye!”

    • ramases says:

      09:18am | 01/03/13

      Jim Moriarty, you are behind the times there mate, its now compulsory to relate each and every second of ones day to one and all constantly on a mobile phone at a decibel level that would make a sergeant major proud.
        Everything from the breaking of a nail to the fact that one had to actually do some work for which they are paid is broadcast continually over the airwaves with no regard for those around who are usually quite right in thinking that the person on the phone is mentally challenged.
        There should now be one car in every train where those that cant live without a second away from their mobile phones or laptops or game boys can all congregate and drive each other mad and the rest of the cars as Quiet Zones. Same goes for buses, planes and every public transport means, including lifts in buildings where it is almost impossible to get away from the madness that is Mobile phones etc.
        Contrary to popular belief not everyone is enamoured of the fact that so and so has broken up with what’s his name and we don’t really want to know, thank you very much.

    • Jim Moriarty says:

      09:42am | 01/03/13


      I was meaning that a pick up call SHOULD be the only call you make on public transport. I agree, I don’t give a shit what the person next to me is having for dinner and what they’re wearing to Jake’s party.

      I normally stick in the headphones and play Plants vs Zombies.

    • Katie says:

      01:56pm | 01/03/13

      Oh yes. And while we’re at it, it’ll keep away all those mostly young and mostly male riders who think it’s a grand time to talk loudly, make sexist comments, cause a ruckus and drink on the trains.

      I’d rather have non sensical, inane female chatter than feeling uncomfortable because of a pack of young men,

    • Jim Moriarty says:

      07:45am | 01/03/13

      I’d love this in Melbourne. The shrieking school kids with their eff this and eff that are a nightmare.

    • Ray says:

      07:48am | 01/03/13

      ” ... being considerate” ???


      This is ‘Stralia!!!

      We don’t do considerate.

      Considerate is something that the baby boomers used to do.

      Humm. How can I work ‘Tony Abbott is bad’ into this?

    • Ohcomeon says:

      08:12am | 01/03/13

      For the love of God people, please turn off the keypress tones on your phone.

      No one else needs to know when you are pressing buttons, and you know that you have pressed them, because you just pressed them!

      One of the most annoying human inventions since religion.

    • AFR says:

      08:18am | 01/03/13

      I think from memory, Bris-vegas has them?

    • Danny B says:

      08:46am | 01/03/13

      Yes, we’ve had them for a while up here. They’ve worked out quite well.

    • Danny B says:

      08:46am | 01/03/13

      Yes, we’ve had them for a while up here. They’ve worked out quite well.

    • Danny B says:

      08:46am | 01/03/13

      Yes, we’ve had them for a while up here. They’ve worked out quite well.

    • SJH says:

      09:26am | 01/03/13

      As Danny B said 3 times, yes we do, yes we do, yes we do. 

      I never sit in them because that’s where most wowsers and bitter QCN’s congregate so it makes them easy to avoid.  Win, win.

    • RJB says:

      09:40am | 01/03/13

      Yes but the effect has been known to cause stuttering.

    • AFR says:

      09:49am | 01/03/13

      I saw one on the Air-train once, and was scared to use it, in case my phone rang or other commuters didn’t like how hard I typed on my laptop (I really like to uitilise the 30 min ride into town do get some work done).

    • SJH says:

      12:37pm | 01/03/13

      I understand your fear, AFR.  Friend of mine boarded one when it was on trial in Bris and was whispering quickly on his mobile telling his Mum he may be a little late.  A QCN forced a quiet carriage flyer in his lap to which he stated ” It says, quiet - not silent”.  The QCN hmphed and tsked tsked him and he never boarded another one since. 

      Avoid the QCN’s like the plague!  Let them pretend their little lives matter in their carriage kingdom.

    • john says:

      08:20am | 01/03/13

      @Ray “We don’t do considerate.”

      No no-body does any more. Quiet carriages were normal, now they are dedicated?

      Then you won’t mind waiting for a couple of days or just get sent home if your in need of emergency surgery?

      Perhaps when your old and frail we can just wheel you out onto the freeway and dump ya there!

      Oh I know don’t worry about waiting your turn in line for anything…just fuck ‘em all and go straight to the front holding your 6 shooter as a show of who’s boss.

      Start that lawn mower at 6am why wait till 8am on Sunday morning.

      Play chicken at pedestrian crossings like Sydney drivers do!! Or just go on shooting spree’s shooting up peoples houses in now regular drive by shootings in western sydney and watch your work on the news. smile Just dandy!

      To what end? we hate each other even more than we do now?

    • Joan Bennett says:

      09:02am | 01/03/13

      After being at work all day in an open plan environment, there is nothing worse than getting on a bus with people talking loud enough (on their phones or to another passenger) that you can hear everything up the other end of the bus.  But if the 2 ladies were speaking at a civilised volume, I can totally deal with that.  A slight hum of conversation that you can tune out is fine.

    • Tubesteak says:

      09:07am | 01/03/13

      Was on a train about a year ago when nearly the same thing happened only it was parents with a daughter who seemed to be about 6. The daughter was chattering away loudly when QCN approached and informed them it was a quiet carriage. I think the mother took the daughter to another carriage and the father stayed there. I wanted to thank QCN. As this was a trip from Central to Newcastle I think the rule was the first two carriages (??) so I definitely chose one of those carriages. An announcement was made at the beginning of the journey over the PA.

      I think QCN also told off a bunch of bogans who got on and started making a noise with their loud conversation. But that could have been a different journey. Can’t remember.

    • Kerryn says:

      09:16am | 01/03/13

      We’ve had them in Brisbane for a while, they’re brilliant.

      Oh, except for once when we had some louts on board who were loud and obnoxious, but when security came on board they shut up. smile

    • Kika says:

      09:51am | 01/03/13

      Gosh you Sydneysiders, we’ve had it for yonks up here in Brisbane.

      I think the quiet carriage is a good idea… but perhaps they should also have a loud one where you can make as much noise as you like including listening to your music as loud as you want. That would be great.

    • Pattem says:

      10:33am | 01/03/13

      Ever been on a Perth train?  You don’t need Quiet Cars there…step onto a train and it’s like you’ve stepped into a Morgue.

      Maybe it was the time of day, or…something…but having experienced Hong Kong train commutes, Perth trains must have a terminus at the Cemetery.

      No buzz, no vibe in the carriages…just zombies plugged in, eyes averted - head in book or mobile device.

    • St. Michael says:

      12:39pm | 01/03/13

      It’s because they’re stuffed so full you can’t actually inhale to speak.

      ...okay, it’s actually because there’s nothing to talk about in Perth, but don’t tell them I said that.  Shh.

    • AJ in Perth says:

      02:48pm | 01/03/13

      *frantically, yet quietly, shaking people awake on transperth train*

      #$%#$, tough buggers, can’t get them to wake up, but I’ll keep on trying

      hint, St. Michael, slowly start to move further east (no need to run just yet, we still have to jump the rabbit proof fence), the perth zombies are coming ...

    • Pattem says:

      04:24pm | 01/03/13

      @ St. Michael, you wrote: “It’s because they’re stuffed so full you can’t actually inhale to speak.”

      The gluttons! smile

      Ha, ha I like your sense of humour. And with the heat, the sweat, the failing deodorant, yeah, they are probably holding their breath.

      Between you and me…I can keep a secret wink

    • Pattem says:

      04:39pm | 01/03/13

      @AJ in Perth

      ...out of the Wild West they came…

    • Claudia says:

      10:37am | 01/03/13

      I don’t mind the idea, unenforcable though it probably is. Last year on the Belgrave/Lilydale line, a woman allowed her infant child to shriek for twenty minutes without bothering to even attempt to comfort the poor thing. When a passenger gently asked her to provide assistance to her child, a complete stranger at the other end of the train leapt to his feet and began shrieking about hard it is to raise a child and blah, blah, blah. He really disgraced himself. I support the idea of a quiet carriage - not necessarily to exclude parents with children, but to exclude hysterics who defend negligent parents.

    • Pattem says:

      10:37am | 01/03/13

      Brian wrote: “They are not about to employ extra staff to walk up and down with index fingers pressed to lips.”

      Just promote the Quiet Carriage as a reading-room for retired Librarians!

      Problem solved.


    • Michael R says:

      10:39am | 01/03/13

      I’m with QCN: quiet means quiet. That makes it easy to enforce. For rules to be functional, they must be clear and precise. To throw up our hands and say “unenforceable” makes you a fatalist for anarchy (FFA). And if you have to call someone who values quiet a Nazi, you instantly lose the debate.

    • Adupa says:

      10:46am | 01/03/13

      Quiet carriages worked well in Brisbane, if you were in one, you knew that you COULD answer your phone but would have to talk with a quiet voice, and you COULD have a conversation but quietly. It was designed to give workers a respite from overly loud extroverts, and school kids.

      The system worked, anyone who didn’t want their volume controlled didn’t jump in the quiet carriage, and people IN the quiet carriage were able to have quiet conversations.

      The QCN in question should perhaps petition for Silent Carriages, or actually work from home, as they obviously despise any social interaction.

    • Gordon says:

      11:28am | 01/03/13

      As president of a National Support Organistion for Tourettes Suffers I believe quiet carriages are cruel and discriminatory. Many people cannot last for long without a tic developing, and ejecting them for a train is simply adding to their f*cking stigma c&nt; and fckng sh1t shit sh1t ARE YOU LOOKING AT ME f%ck c^nt. ....

    • Sanity says:

      06:52pm | 01/03/13

      Oh dear, someone’s clearly showing their lack of intelligence. I sure as hell hope that you were private schooled.
      For the record, your argument would be more credible if:

      1) you could spell “sufferers” correctly.
      2) you realised that the organisation that DOES support Tourette’s in Australia is actually the Tourette Syndrome Association of Australia.
      3) The swearing is only present in about 5-10% of those with Tourettes. The remainder are likely to have more physical or verbal tics.

    • Bruno says:

      12:00pm | 01/03/13

      the last carriage is now the quiet carriage. how times have changed. It used to be the vandalising carriage. ah the good ol days.

    • SAm says:

      12:18pm | 01/03/13

      While its a good idea, the best part about the Central Coast line I can say is that in general, on any carriage, people tend to be far more polite and quiet than any of the normal sydney trains. They need them on the normal lines but with the amount of &^%$heads on them anyway it probably wont work

    • Wayne Kerr says:

      12:41pm | 01/03/13

      I don’t know SAm.  Up until recently I had been commuting on the Central Coast line for almost 20 years and you still got your fair share of ferals talking loudly on the phone about how they were just getting back from Sydney where their boyfriend was jailed for 5 years and how unfair it was or just generally talking loudly and swearing every second word and arcing up if someone asked them to stop.

    • AFR says:

      01:00pm | 01/03/13

      When I lived in Wollstonecraft many moons ago, I used to try and get the trains coming from the Central Coast. i called them the death trains, as everyone was asleep. Always quiet.

    • SAm says:

      01:17pm | 01/03/13

      haha true Wayne. Admittedly I just miss peak hour either side (so half the train sleeps on the way down and its pretty empty going home, usually again people sleeping or reading).
      Weekends and nights are another matter, although I must admit I never feel unsafe on them

    • Markus says:

      02:16pm | 01/03/13

      So many of the complaints about public transport in this country are just ridiculously petty and gutless. That it got to the point that CityRail implemented such a system is just sad.

      Being forced to sit in silence while being terrorised by a 14 year old girl discussing her boring life on the phone to her equally boring friend? You must have been powerless to stop it!

      Maybe just try telling her that as interesting as hearing that Aymee is so crushing on Skyler even after she totes said she wasn’t, perhaps it’s a conversation that can wait until you see your friend next.
      The worst thing that can happen is she will squeal for a short time and then cry. But at least the sound of quiet sobbing will be better than the phone call. More satisfying, too.

    • S says:

      03:11pm | 01/03/13

      We’re so much better connected these days. Sit on a train, play with your facebook and interact with your “friends” while not even daring to make eye contact, let alone speak with the person sitting next to you. What a messed up world we live in when such a concept exists… All on board the dehumanisation carriage!!


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