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Rail News: Passenger Rail

Chicago, Boston-area commuter railroads to test 'quiet cars'


Starting this month, two commuter railroads plan to launch "quiet cars," on which riders will be asked to keep the noise down during peak commuting hours.

Chicago's Metra and Boston's Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority will conduct test runs of the quiet car concept, which requires riders to silence the sound on pagers and laptop computers and to refrain from talking on their cell phones.  

On Monday, MBTA started its quiet car pilot project on the Franklin and Fitchburg lines during peak travel times. The project will run through the next 90 days, after which it will be evaluated. Conductors will remind riders when they board that they're in a quiet car, and allow them to move to another train if they so wish, MBTA officials said in a prepared statement.

Meanwhile, Metra will launch a quiet time on Jan. 10 on the first and last of the Rock Island trains. The test, to run for three months, will apply to inbound and evening outbound trains from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m., and from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. daily.

The program will be enforced primarily through peer pressure and, when necessary, conductor intervention, according to Metra officials.

"Many riders told us that having a rule in place will empower them to ask noisy people to pipe down," Metra said.