"Quiet coaches" : what constitutes unacceptable noise ?

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Justin Smith

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I've noticed more and more personal stereos in "Quiet coaches" which are anything but quiet. On a train back from Leicester today I could hear one from 4 rows back !
Which begs the question what is a "Quiet coach" ?
What constitutes unacceptable noise ?
Most significantly, how do guards (or train managers or whatever they're called these days) get people to turn down loud personal stereos when it's a subjective matter as to whether they're too loud ?
In fact how often do guards/train managers actually ask people in Quiet coaches to be quiet ? ! ?
What is the advice given to guards/train managers on this subject ?

I sent an E mail to the three train companies which I would normally use (EM trains, EC trains & XC trains) asking about their attitude to noise in the "Quiet coach" and in particular overspill from personal stereos.

This is answer from East Coast trains :

We intend the Quiet Coach, Coach B, to meet the needs of customers who want to work or relax quietly during their journey. Our aspiration for the Quiet Coach, based on the views we have gathered from customers, is that it should be ‘library quiet’, as to ban all noise would be impossible to enforce. This does mean that we ask people to use electronic equipment in silent mode, and mobile phone users to conduct conversations in the corridors at the end of each coach. In regards to personal stereos, they should be used quietly so other passengers should not really be able to hear any noise.
We do ask customers to be considerate to the needs of others, but unfortunately this is not always the case. We would normally expect our Customer Service Managers to deal with the individuals concerned once a complaint has been made to the staff by a customer, or if staff can see clearly hear excessive noise such as loudly singing, shouting etc. If such an incident happens again, I would advise you to contact a member of staff who will take appropriate action.


This is the reply from Cross Country Trains :

Although our train managers will ask a customer to keep the noise down in a Quiet Carriage there are no railway by laws to back up our policy. It all really relies on the courtesy of customers respecting the wishes of everyone else in the carriage.
It is sometimes possible to re-locate customers into another carriage, however the train manager can only request this of the passenger and in no way force them to move. The problem becomes even greater when there are large groups travelling together. It would be difficult to find alternative seating whereby they can all travel together. However I do appreciate that you personally booked the quiet carriage to enjoy a peaceful journey


As an aside, I thought there actually was some railway bye law about playing music on a train or station.

This is the reply from East Midland Trains :

The quiet coach should be a quiet coach. However, it is up to the Train Staff to manage the noise levels and if somebody does have head phones on and there is an over spill of music that is particularly noisy then our staff should ask them to turn the music down or ask them to move into a different coach.
 
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SS4

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Which begs the question what is a "Quiet coach" ?
A coach which is (supposed to be) quieter than the other coaches of the appropriate class.

What constitutes unacceptable noise ?
Anything significantly above background noise (~35dB iirc). You're right of course because quiet is badly defined. More practically I'd suggest loud is what a reasonable passenger sitting next to you would find loud.

Most significantly, how do guards (or train managers or whatever they're called these days) get people to turn down loud personal stereos when it's a subjective matter as to whether they're too loud ?
If it can be heard outside the headphones it's too loud.

In fact how often do guards/train managers actually ask people in Quiet coaches to be quiet ? ! ?
The few times I've been travelling it's never been necessary.

What is the advice given to guards/train managers on this subject ?
No idea sorry
 

SS4

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Screaming children. Though I deem them unacceptable everywhere <(
Good one although I'll extend it to screaming in general. I hope this thread doesn't turn into the usual debate on quiet coaches or the more general passenger behaving though :(
 

317666

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As has been said earlier, it doesn't just depend on the volume of personal stereos, but the quality of the earphones too. I got fed up of having to turn my music up to a stupidly high volume to drown out screaming kids and the like, so got myself a pair of 'Direct Sound Extreme Isolation' headphones. Now I never have to put up with listening to a noisy family from London to Manchester ever again :lol:

I think that the quiet zone is designed so that it's up to passengers' common sense to determine whether something is too loud. However, what counts as loud is obviously down to opinion, and it doesn't help that we nowadays live in a society where common sense is somewhat lacking...
 

Captain Speaking

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In my experience it's those cheapo Apple earphones that are the problem. Even on moderate volume they create a lot of noise for those around. They are also awful quality to listen to even if you are the one with them in your ears.

My last car came with an Apple music box thingy, complete with those cheapo earphones. First thing I did was buy some quality ones - great to listen to and no leakage. Why do people put up with such poor quality sound while imposing nasty techno noises on others?
 

SS4

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My last car came with an Apple music box thingy, complete with those cheapo earphones. First thing I did was buy some quality ones - great to listen to and no leakage. Why do people put up with such poor quality sound while imposing nasty techno noises on others?
That would be cash. I buy cheap headphones because they're cheap and never seem to last (the two are almost certainly related!)

For the screaming kids I think it's got something to do with frequency as well as amplitude
 

12CSVT

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It amazes me how many people claim to be illiterate when asked not to use mobile phones in quiet coaches - "Sorry I didn't didn't know it was a quiet coach" they will say, even though there are notices on all the windows which clearly state 'Quiet Coach'
 

Anon Mouse

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In my experence the Quiet Coach is never respected. I try to head into that coach on East Coast and Cross Country and almost always regret it. For some reason it attracts those who want to make a noise and who seem to like to exclaim at full volume "this is the quiet coach" before laughing and continuing their loud behaviour, people who seem to think the 'no mobile phones' bit does not apply to them or kids that do not stop making noise. The Wife and I went to London last year and we were in the Quiet Coach and there was a Guy and bairn sitting in front and the Guy could not keep the sprog quiet and eventually gave up. The kid actually said "If it was the noisy coach I would be quiet". I actually think the quiet coach concept actually makes it worse as its practically impossible to enforce in todays society.
 

PaxVobiscum

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In my experience it's those cheapo Apple earphones that are the problem. Even on moderate volume they create a lot of noise for those around. They are also awful quality to listen to even if you are the one with them in your ears.
Cheapo? They cost £66 to replace! :D Tesco have real cheapo ones starting about £5.
EDIT: No they don't - that's the price for the semi respectable in-ear model not the supplied earbuds. Sorry!

I think we could all agree that these earbud headphones of all makes have a lot to answer for - causing hearing loss to countless users in addition to annoying all those round about. While the over-ear designs can look a bit silly at times they do give the rest of us peace. And the noise cancelling ones let everyone have a quieter life.

There are zillions of models of headphones out there to choose from, but interestingly a remarkably small number of models are used by audio professionals for monitoring - some examples being Sennheiser HD 25-1s and HD280s and Sony MDR-7506 and these are far from the most expensive.
 
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exile

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Once I was in a quiet coach having a normal conversation when I was asked to be quiet by someone across the aisle.
 

90019

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Cheapo? They cost £66 to replace! :D Tesco have real cheapo ones starting about £5.

I think we could all agree that these earbud headphones of all makes have a lot to answer for - causing hearing loss to countless users in addition to annoying all those round about. While the over-ear designs can look a bit silly at times they do give the rest of us peace. And the noise cancelling ones let everyone have a quieter life.
I personally use a pair of in ear headphones (Sennheiser CX500), which are great.
Because of the design, you don't have to have them at all loud, they block out a lot of other noise, and they don't leak sound.
I think I paid £25 for them.

The headphones that come with Apple products are crap of the highest order.
The sound that comes out of them is very tinny, and the sound leakage is so bad that those around you can hear what you're listening to better than you can.
 
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PaxVobiscum

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I personally use a pair of in ear headphones (Sennheiser CX500), which are great.
Because of the design, you don't have to have them at all loud, they block out a lot of other noise, and they don't leak sound.
I think I paid £25 for them.
I was criticising the earbud design but mistakenly quoted the price for the Apple in-ear headphones (which get reasonable reviews BTW). Previous post corrected.

The headphones that come with Aplle products are crap of the highest order.
The sound that comes out of them is very tinny, and the sound leakage is so bad that those around you can hear what you're listening to better than you can.
Agreed! Though if fitted very carefully the sound can be improved a bit (but only until they fall out again).
 

DaveNewcastle

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In fact how often do guards/train managers actually ask people in Quiet coaches to be quiet ? ! ?
Its my experience, as a regular in East Coast's quiet 1st class coaches, that the loudest noises are the banter, laughter and shouts from the staff. This frequently includes the Guard or even another Guard travelling as passenger.

It doesn't bother me, and I prefer that to the sound of someone else's stereo anyway.
 

SS4

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I was criticising the earbud design but mistakenly quoted the price for the Apple in-ear headphones (which get reasonable reviews BTW). Previous post corrected.
I hope you took the metaphorical pinch of salt when reading those reviews. Apple products polarize opinion to the extremes.
Personally I have no trouble agreeing with the standard model of Apple being overpriced ;)
 

wintonian

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Just a few comments,

Firstly I must be the only person who defines personal headphones as to mean personal to the user and not those arround them.

Secondly your phone is called a mobile phone because it has the ability to be well... mobile, however if the phone wishes to be mobile but it's owner does not thats fine its just a shame you can't open the windows on most trains these days. <D

Lastly do people realise that most laptops/ DVD played actually come with a headphone jack built in? Or are they already using them to listen to some crummy CD on their ipod whilst watching the latest film release on the laptop, helping to explain why I need ear plugs when we are at apposite end of the coach?
 

Mutant Lemming

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The nearest equivalent to a 'quiet' coach on a 319 is to go in to the motor car and open the windows in the hope it will drown out the noise from phones/stereos/rowdies/ and other assorted racket.
 

LE Greys

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In the spirit of Arthur Conan Doyle, perhaps we should redefine them as "Diogenes coaches". Nobody is allowed to take any notice of anybody else, and talking or making any other form of noise is permitted under no circumstances. Three offences gets the talker's ticket confiscated and an UPFN issued.

Or maybe just show some courtesy and understanding on all sides. :?
 

wintonian

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In the spirit of Arthur Conan Doyle, perhaps we should redefine them as "Diogenes coaches". Nobody is allowed to take any notice of anybody else, and talking or making any other form of noise is permitted under no circumstances. Three offences gets the talker's ticket confiscated and an UPFN issued.

Or maybe just show some courtesy and understanding on all sides. :?
That works in every coach in the morning peak, and without threat of an UPFN, so why it can't work in a single coach the rest of the day I don't know. :?
 

34D

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Once I was in a quiet coach having a normal conversation when I was asked to be quiet by someone across the aisle.
Quite right too, in my opinion (not that I use quiet coaches as I need to be in touch by phone all the time).

Out of interest, does anyone other than the over 50s use them?
 

calc7

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I used to use XC a lot as a student and found the quiet coach the only sane part of standard class (when it was respected, that is). Tended to be a bit quieter (pun not intended) in terms of loadings, too.
 

Essexman

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Any electrical device that is audible to passengers other than the user is in my view unacceptable in the quiet coach. By all means play music if it is quiet and you have good headphones, but the person sitting next to you should not hear a sound.
 

Failed Unit

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Quite right too, in my opinion (not that I use quiet coaches as I need to be in touch by phone all the time).

Out of interest, does anyone other than the over 50s use them?
I was onced forced into it with my baby, as that is where my seats were reserved. The joys of the booking engines giving the choice of quite coach and no preference, so us people with noisy children that don't want to be in the quite coach make a lot of noise. The train was full so it was disturb or the vestibule!
 

SS4

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I was onced forced into it with my baby, as that is where my seats were reserved. The joys of the booking engines giving the choice of quite coach and no preference, so us people with noisy children that don't want to be in the quite coach make a lot of noise. The train was full so it was disturb or the vestibule!
Would you a like a tin opener for that can of worms ;)
 

Failed Unit

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Would you a like a tin opener for that can of worms ;)
Yep, to be fair most TOCs have it about right in terms of ratio and at busy times people who don't want to be the quite coach are disappointed, but I suspect many who are in the normal coach reading or whatever may not have minded if they were in the quiet coach. The ratio in 1st class is wrong, but when you have 3 coaches you can only have a 1/3 and 2/3 split really.

I was on east coast in coach L and some woman had a go at me as I was on the phone. I pointed out that if she wanted quiet she could have gone into the empty coach K. She stayed put and moaned.....
 
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