You have entered the Quiet Zone!

What’s the point of the Quiet Zone Carriage?

What’s the point of the Quiet Zone Carriage?

Twice today I have travelled in the Quiet Zone Carriage, first with First Great Western and secondly with CrossCountry. Both times there were people in there listening to their personal stereos really loudly! Though of course for everyone else in the carriage had to put up with the irritating tinny music.

To be honest I would have been annoyed with it, even if it had been a “normal” carriage. One of the reasons I listen to music or radio on the train is often to drown out the tinny music from others. However with respect to other people I don’t listen when I am in the Quiet Zone Carriage, as I know they don’t like it.

Now I would stand up and ask the person to turn it off, however I have no idea where they are sitting in the carriage and from my seat I can’t actually see who it is. Also the noise I would make asking them to turn it off, potential argument, would annoy people even more I think, well it does when I hear it.

The only reason I am in the Quiet Zone Carriage is that though there was no reservation on the seat I was sitting in, someone did have a reservation. Personally I think they caught the wrong train, but it was easy to move and there were free seats in the Quiet Zone Carriage.

Virgin Trains use to have a weird Quiet Zone policy when they ran the franchise (now run by CrossCountry) you couldn’t even use your laptop in the Quiet Zone Carriage. This was just use it, for reading, writing, not listening to music or watching a film. I remember one woman getting very irate I was using it, even though she made significantly more noise shouting at me then I was using the laptop. She got very hot under the collar, so much so, that the guard made an announcement over the tannoy about not using laptops in the Quiet Zone Carriage.

Talking of announcements I am reminded again of Virgin Trains where the buffet person when we were arriving at Birmingham, where he was getting off, he thanked us for been a lovely audience!

The Quiet Zone Carriage only really works if everyone in it respects the rule that it is the Quiet Zone Carriage. Unlike the First Class Carriage the rules aren’t enforced by the guard or ticket inspector; if you don’t have a first class ticket then you can’t sit in the First Class Carriage. Whereas if you aren’t quiet, you can sit in the Quiet Zone Carriage and be noisy.

I have to admit I don’t really see the point of a Quiet Zone Carriage on a really busy train, mainly as trains are very noisy things anyway, lots of engine noise, and announcements. Those within it, even those been quiet, have conversations, chat, tap away at keyboards, breath, drink noisely, snore and so much more.

The question is, with a small four carriage train, can we really afford to have a Quiet Zone, well one that works as it should?

Travelling stories

I recounted earlier this week the problems affecting my travels to work caused by the weather.

It actually hasn’t got much better.

On Wednesday I checked to see the trains were running and they seemed to be running fine. After changing trains at Bristol Temple Meads I arrived in Gloucester a few minutes late, but nothing too untoward. There were problems on the rest of the network, but it seemed to be restricted to Devon and a few other parts of the UK.

As it got to the time to leave work, I did check the departure board from my phone and it seemed that there were a few alterations, but nothing that would impact on me too much (I hoped).

I arrived at Gloucester station, checked the departure board, saw I had a 30 minute wait for my train, got an espresso from the Pumpkin Cafe and sat down with my laptop and the free wifi. After a minite or so and just as I was checking the e-mail, a CrossCountry Voyager came into the station, this was a bit strange as they generally avoid Gloucester these days. The station announcer came on and said “arriving platform two, an extra train to Bristol Temple Meads” well that was an unexpected opportunity. So I grabbed the coffee, my laptop and bag and got on the (quite) crowded train. Found the last remaining seat in Coach C and sat down.

One of the reasons that CrossCountry trains don’t call at Gloucester is that it isn’t on the main line from the South West to Birmingham. As you come down from Birmingham you swing right into Gloucester. To continue down to Bristol you reverse direction and swing back onto the main line. I recall catching trains from Weston to York and they would call at Gloucester, they would then detach the engine from the front of the train loop the carriages and couple it to the other end. With High Speed Trains (with a cab at each end) the driver needed to switch cabs. This of course would all take time, sometimes enough time to grab a coffee from the cafe – though I did sometimes worry about been left behind.

HST at Gloucester Station

Today though you need to change trains at Cheltenham Spa or Bristol Parkway to get to Gloucester as the mainline trains don’t call there anymore, hence my surprise at the CrossCountry Voyager. So I was expecting the train to leave Gloucester from the same direction it had arrived… it didn’t! It left in the opposite direction to the way it had arrived at Gloucester. That wasn’t the way to Bristol, that took you to Lydney, Chepstow and Wales. I really did think for a while as the train travelled further into Gloucestershire, into Forest of Dean country that I had taken the wrong train, would have to pay a penalty fare and end up in Cardiff!

Eventually the train manager came on the tannoy and said there had been a landslip in Westerleigh. As a result the southbound mainline was closed. The train was going to go around the problem, through Lydney and Chepstow, under the River Severn and arrive in Bristol Temple Meads.

We eventually arrived in Bristol, five minutes later I made the connection home. What was slightly weird was I actually got home thirty minutes earlier than I normally would.

As a result today I decided to drive. This morning the motorway was a lot busier than normal and I suspect the railway problems contributed to that. However checking my National Rail app on the iPhone it was apparent that lots of trains had been cancelled, so train hadn’t been an option even if I wanted to try the train.

This evening though, sadly there was a six vehicle accident on the M5 which closed all three lanes for a time, so it took me over two hours to drive home, twice as long as it should take. There are lots of accidents on the M5, which is one of the reasons I recently swapped to taking the train.


Well tomorrow is another day.