It’s 5:46pm on a Thursday night, the train is packed and the only seats available are in the quiet carriage.
Your phone buzzes and it’s your partner: “What time will you be home for dinner, and how does garlic mushroom pasta sound?”
It’s a quiet, one-minute conversation, but to the rest of the tired commuters in your carriage, you might as well have been blasting AC/DC while juggling four maracas and landing a plane in the carriage at the same time.
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You’ve broken the cardinal rule: this is a quiet carriage, and you broke the silence.
“My pet peeve is people in the quiet carriage who have loud conversations on their phone, or play noisy smartphone games,” a Canstar staffer reportedly said on the topic.
“It’s amazing how much it annoys me just because there are signs saying you should be quiet but they still won’t be quiet, even though it doesn’t actually interfere with my book reading. Gosh!”
The good news for talkers is that outside of a few sharp glares and maybe the odd “Shh!”, you’re safe from penalties. However, this may be small comfort to those with long distances to travel, looking for a respite from a noisy day.
In Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales, avoiding noise in a quiet carriage is considered more of an etiquette guideline, and is not something enforceable with financial penalties.
However, as soon as you start swearing, it’s a different matter.
Wash your mouth out, or pay $1,100
In NSW, you can be fined up to $1,100 for offensive language - the same amount you’d be fined for putting your feet on the seats and littering.
It’s one of the steepest penalties, with only trespassing on railway land, interfering or blocking doors and equipment and damaging property incurring greater penalties.
In Victoria, you can be fined up to $330 for offensive language - more than you’d be fined for littering or placing your feet on the seats ($248).
In Queensland, you’ll cop a $261 fine for placing your feet on the seats, and you’ll also be fined for eating and drinking on a train.
Playing music at a level “likely to be a nuisance” also incurs the hefty $261 penalty.
Outside of trains, you can be fined for swearing in or near a public place, with police cracking down on people saying “F**k” and “C**t”.
In the year to 31 March 2017, 1,610 Australians received on-the-spot fines of $500.
This week marks Rail Safety Week.
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