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Rail News: Passenger Rail

Quiet please: Amtrak seeks considerate co-existence for riders


It’s a tale of two passengers. One, Businessman Bob, enjoys commuting by train because he can use the time to work and return phone calls, thereby spending less time in his office. The other, Relaxing Rhonda, enjoys commuting by train because it gives her a chance to unwind from the day, watch the scenery instead of the road or catch a nap. Unless, of course, Businessman Bob is in the same car.

As society evolves and, in some cases, redefines the populace’s priorities according to technological advances, more and more of both passenger types are showing up — or clashing — on trains nationwide. Some transit agencies have installed signs, politely reminding passengers to consider volume when placing or answering calls. But passenger complaints about other passengers’ cell-phone use are on the rise.

Amtrak Feb. 1 increased its efforts to seek balance for both passenger types on the Northeast Corridor by designating Metroliners cars #106 and #107 as "Quiet Cars."

Passengers in the first business class car behind the locomotive on the 9 a.m. Metroliners out of Washington, D.C., and New York would be asked to refrain from using cell phones or pagers, or talking loudly.

"Amtrak in no way wants to discourage business travelers who choose to work on the train," said Stan Bagley, Northeast Corridor president, in a prepared statement. "By creating these ‘Quiet Cars,’ Amtrak is responding to yet another customer demand."

Amtrak last year began a "Quiet Car" pilot on train #151, which travels from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C., and added train #170, Washington, D.C., to Boston, a short while later.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 2/1/2001